The Grab Bag Death Match Special Vol1

I was recently asked by some friends of mine, Doktor Stick and J-Diddy from the great state of Texas, to help them with a quandary. They had a running argument over which movie was worse. Well, being a true pal, I said I would subject myself to the agony of these two films. I would throw them into a Death Match where the only way to win is to be the baddest. Ladies and Gentlemen, are you not entertained by bad jokes (then don’t read on further), but if you are I give you…..

Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation (2004) starring Richard Burgi, Colleen Porch, and Ed Lauter. Directed by Phil Tippett.

What it’s about: Remember Starship Troopers? Well, forget all about that. In this direct to DVD sequel gone is all the self referential wit and fun, and in it’s place we get a heaping helping of Bug Combat.

When a lone platoon gets cornered while fighting waves of The Bugs, only convicted murderer Dax can save the platoon. They hole up in a cave, but soon find themselves attacked from within by a new strain of Bugs that infest the brain.

Best Line: I‘m a miserable bastard, and that’s on a good day. - Dax

Worst Line: Is this another of your psychic hot flashes? - Sgt Rake

Best Scene: When we as an audience learn that even a really hot naked blond chick can give you a Bug that will eat your brain. Now if only this had been in the form of a PSA they would have really had something.

Worst Scene: Any scene where one of the infected soldiers showed up. The majority of the actors in this flick had a hard enough time playing their character. There was no call to make anyone stretch their acting abilities until they broke.

Best Actor: Richard Burgi (Dax) - Saying he was the best actor in this film is kind of like saying someone is the person puking the most at an eating contest. While he was at least entertaining to watch (as opposed to everyone else), it becomes very clear early on that Burgi is taking a “Go big or Go Home” attitude to his role. Richard Burgi can be seen on the big screen again when Friday the 13th hits theaters.

Worst Actor: Colleen Porch (Lei) - Wow this was a hard one to narrow down, There were so many bad actors and poorly delivered lines, but no one really took the effort to stand out except Colleen Porch. Ms. Porch, the partially psychic trooper Lei, stumbles over and around her lines for the course of the movie. I don’t want to even get started on how painful it was to watch her emote after a “psychic vision”. She must have gotten a bit better over the years. She got some critical claim last year. Porch starred in Baby Blues as a post-partum mother who goes on a murderous spree.

Best Thing about the Film: Wow, I suppose the effects. While not on the level as the original Starship Troopers, I still liked seeing the Bugs in action. (Although when they start in to screaming about War on the Bug, I do get a mite nervous.) There’s not really too much you can expect from the look of the film seeing as it was made for 5% of the original’s budget. Director Phil Tippett is a solid effects guy, his work reaching all the way back to Robocop and Star Wars, but there’s a reason that he’s only directed one other film.

Worst Thing About The Film: The fact that it was Starship Troopers 2. All the jokes, all the really cool effects, all the propaganda films, all the Neil Patrick Harris…all…gone…. I would have settled for a bit of Casper Van Diem by the time the credits rolled. This flick could have easily been it’s own direct to DVD travesty without bringing Troopers name into it. The script by veteran writer Edward Neumeier, who penned the original script and that of Robocop, made me wonder if he ever saw the first film. I can’t understand how someone can write something so well, and then also produce the fake knock off version. Then I saw that he followed up this film with Anacondas, and it made a bit more sense.

Robot Jox (1990) starring Gary Graham, Anne Marie Johnson, and Michael Alldredge. Directed by Stuart Gordon.

What's it about? In the future after Nuclear War, all the nations of the world find a new way to settle their agreements, They settle matters one on one in a battle of Robot Jox, highly powered robotic exoskeletons that duel to the death. The most famous of the Jox is Achilles, but during his last match, against the Confederation’s fighter Alexander, he’s involved in an accident that kills hundreds of spectators.

The match is deemed a draw, and Achilles is called on to fight again. This time he refuses. Achillies tries to return to a normal life, but when a new female Jox is slated to fight Alexander, he knows he must finish what he has started.

Best Line: I can’t read, but I’m not dumb. -Achilles

Worst Line: I studied your body. -Athena

Best Scene: I don’t want to spoil too much here but the death of Doc Matsumoto has to up there with the greatest scenes ever. The “dramatic turn” the film takes is just too good to be true, and the way the scene ultimately pays off is priceless.

Worst Scene: Athena and Achilles throw down in his apartment. Wow, I don’t know what kind of useless martial art you have to train in to pilot a giant robot, but let me tell you it looks dang silly. We also get to find out that Achilles super-futuristic pad is mostly made out of paper.

Best Actor: There was really no contest on this one. Michael Alldredge as Tex. It was really the best role to have in the whole film. You get to chew up the scenery, and have a dynamic character arc. It’s the only one in the film, and man is it ever great. Truly an enjoyable performance. Many people may recognize Allderdge for his role in the gangster flick, Scarface, or his many, many television appearances.

Worst Actor: Also winning this category with relative ease is Ann Marie Johnson. Most of the lines that came out of Athena’s mouth sounded like they had just come off the page. Now I’ve seen her in other things where she’s been fine. She was a Robert Townsend favorite and appeared in The Five Heartbeeps, Hollywood Shuffle, as well as the Wayans brothers classic I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. This film though. It seemed like she was trying, maybe that was the problem. She was trying way to hard.

What Makes It Good? Where to start? There’s fashions that make everyone look like spawn of Devo. There’s the fact that its another in a long proud line of dystopian future sport movies. I mean this one goes right on the shelf with Rollerball and Death Race 2000, but I’m sure nestled nearby you could find Logan’s Run and the original Starship Troopers. Plus you got Mr. Re-Animator himself, Stuart Gordon, in the directors chair. What it felt like to me was an homage to the great Roger Corman backed American International films of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Sure it played out like Rocky IV with robots, but how is that a bad thing. And oh yeah, Giant Frickin’ Laser Beam Wielding Robots!

What Makes it Bad? I don’t really have too much to complain about here. Most of the acting was serviceable, and the film moved nicely. There were a few minor details that were cheesetastic. First off, leotards. Whoever is in charge of fashion in the future, hear me now. Girls need leotards. The fellows, not so much. There was also a psychedelic dream sequence in there that was just terrible, but pretty short. The only other thing I think anyone could complain about is the look of the robots, but for what it was and what I like, they were perfect.

The Bugg's Final Judgment

Two movies entered. Now only one can lay claim to the title of the worst of these two. Only one film has shown itself to be a complete waste of time, poorly made, and poorly thought out. There is no real contest here as I declare Starship Trooper 2 to be the clear winner of the WORST film title for this evening.
So there we are, Like Solomon I have reviewed two films and then split a baby in half. (Wait. So he didn’t split it. Hmmm. Well, a bit late to find that out now.) So now I say to you folks out there, do you have a need to know which film is worse? Do you have the heart to subject the Bugg to cinematic torture? Well if you do drop me a line and suggest a pair to battle it out next month in the Grab Bag Death Match.


  1. There can be only one!!

    Bugg-man, that's taking one for the team. Beer's on me next time you are in town.

  2. Nothing is sweeter than the promise of free Shiner Bock. thanks fr ther comment J.

  3. I have to agree because I actually liked Robot Jox, while ST2 is long forgotten.

  4. I am diminished. I will head into the east.

    J-Diddy and I have never seen each others' respective movies, but neither could muster the courage to watch them either.

    Thanks Bugg for taking it to the task (though you sounded beat-down after watching those back-to-back).

    Now if I only listened to J-Diddy when he said The Core was bad... OH THE UNOBTAINIUM!

  5. american films should never be trashed, they are still, by far, the best that the world has to offer, slumdog millionaire?, you must be joking, give me robot jox or starship troopers 2 anyday.


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