Tuesday, February 15, 2011

There's Something About Robocop

I don't remember when was the last time I watched Robocop. It was most probably during the early nineties. But two scenes from the movie that I can recall are the scenes where Murphy meets his death and the antagonist Broddicker gets killed in the final fight. And from that recollection, it is safe for me to say that RoboCop or the RoboCop series in general, is probably one of the most sadistic popular movies to be shown on national television.

Now to justify my words, I have seek the help of Youtube to refresh my memory. Here is the link to Murphy's death. You know, the one before he got turned into a robot.

Anyway let me walk you through this video first before you go and watch it, because it's graphic.

* Alex Murphy gets cornered by Broddicker and gang. He knocks Murphy down, steps on his arm and begins to tease Murphy with his shortgun. Then, he blows off Murphy's right hand and continues to make series of puns. Everyone laughs. Murphy, in agony, got up like he's going to escape only to realise that its impossible. One the crooks shoots his arm off completely. Everyone starts pumping bullets into Murphy's torso each with a shotgun. Shotguns. This shooting goes on about 15 seconds while Murphy refuses to die. It all ends as Broddicker puts one in the forehead. *

Now tell me this is not sadistic. They purposely make Murphy very resistant to death just for the sake of sadism. If Murphy was the antagonist, he would be shot in the neck and die instantly. But then again, nothing of sort would ever happen to a hero in a movie unless he would later be resurrected into an invincible force, as in the case with Murphy. This is of course the director's way of playing with the audience emotions. We the audience, having witnessed such a brutal murder of the hero, would automatically be rooting for Murphy's vengeance in his latter life. Which is a sick but very popular tactic.

This plot drive has been used in countless of films, just not particularly the same as in RoboCop's case. Bravehart for example, developed a successful one. William Wallace's wife gets murdered in the early part of the film, although not as brutal as Murphy's death, it was shown as such to intentionally instill anger in the audience as if it happened to their own family. From there on, the audience will see every move by Wallace as epic. Cheap tactic, I know.

Now let's look at the other scene where Broddicker meets his maker.

* Robocop lures Broddicker and gang into a steel foundry (or something like that) and begins to play hide and seek. The nigro dies first, as always. The gang disperse trying to look for Robocop. A series of chases ensue. Robocop's next victim is the truck driver who runs into a strategically placed toxic waste tank, after being tricked by Robocop. He lives but is turned into and unarmed Uruk hai. While Broddicker is being chased by Lewis he drove into the uruk hai killing him instantly, bursting into pieces. As things unfolds, Robocop manages to corner Broddicker. As he tries to talk his way out, an accomplice drops tons of steel onto Robocop and blasts him with a big ass gun. Seeing Robocop struggling under the rubble Broddiceker attacks him with a steel rod and thrusts it into Robocop's chest. While screaming in agony, Robocop kills Broddicker by stabbing him in the neck with the best 'middle finger' in film's history. *

First, the truck driver could have died instantly. Or robocop could have shot him once he got washed out from the truck. But no, they instead have to make him zombie-like and kill him in the worst way possible. Then, in the final part, Robocop could have killed Broddicker the moment he confronts him. Instead they made sure that Robocop endured a series of torture before ending it all. The fact that he is a robot gave the scriptwriters freedom to torture him, and not die.

Nothing short of sadism here. Marquis de Sade would be laughing and making puns in his grave.

Now, probably some of you would think, what about other films like Saw, Hostel and countless other slasher movies? Why pick on Robocop? Here's where the words popular and national tv in my statement are to be emphasized. It all goes down to how the Robocop franchise was promoted. Audience of all ages saw Robocop as a superhero. The movie is like a superhero movie in the likes of Superman, Spiderman and Batman. Which children dig. They even have figurines of Robocop for children.

I remembered how the Murphy death scene was giving me nightmares back then. It is really surprising to look back at that scene and thinking how I was exposed to such violence on tv at such young age.

As disturbing as it is, I still think Robocop as one of the finest robot films ever made, surpassing most of CGI-rich rubbish we see these days.