In various southeast Asian countries different corporations are able to work on projects that their home countries would frown upon. At some point in the near future one such project is accidentally released during its production; a lethal pathogen that basically turns people into zombies. This region of the Earth is cut off from the rest of the world.
Aside from the occasional military unit dropping in for a mission from time to time there is no contact with any possible survivors. Max Gatling (yep), played by Dolph Lundgren, is one soldier dropped into “Hell” with his unit on a random mission. After his team leaves, Max must fight his way through the infected hordes and save the kid of the head of the corporation responsible for the virus. In other words, he’s the only man for the job and he’s gotta save the President’s daughter….oh and there are robots.
The concept of this movie is so over the top that it kinda works, some of the time. Dolph is perfect for the lead role. While being an action flick chock full of clichés and exactly the kind of thing you would expect him to be in, it was also pretty cool seeing him in something in the sci-fi/horror genre. The movie is filled with cheesy one-liners, terrible dialogue and poor acting. I was willing to look past that on the premise of robots versus zombies alone, unfortunately the film doesn’t deliver like I had hoped it would.
After the initial opening sequence that introduces us to Max and his team a lot of the fun is quickly sucked out of this movie. After teaming up with the daughter, Jude (Melanie Zanetti) the film loses some of its over-the-top charm. Jude is an extremely annoying character that has even more annoying dialogue and a whiny voice that would make Lacey Chabert cringe. None of the supporting characters are likeable. They are either irritating, have ulterior motives or aren’t given a personality grander than a cardboard box. One big thing that I always look for in a horror flick is that it has at least some likeable characters otherwise we have no one to root for. We can’t always be cheering for their deaths to come swiftly. Too bad that even here we only ever care about Max and that’s only because he’s played by Lundgren. If it were some actor that no one knew we probably wouldn’t be too heart-broken if he were to come to a terrible end.
I did like that the “zombies” in this film are treated differently than your standard undead. They are very much the product of a virus rather than the “Act of God” style walking dead. In line with 28 Days Later, they run and seem more concerned with spreading the virus rather than just chowing down on the poor living. It was a little odd seeing the undead get taken out in other ways than just destroying the brain, but made sense in this story.
A big let-down for me was the screen time for the robots. For a film that’s about 90 minutes long, the robots are only part of the story for about a quarter of it. They have some good moments and combining fun action sequences and comedic horror elements, but are severely under-used. I never thought that this would be a great movie, but I was hoping for more than what I got. It’s a little better than what you would get from an Asylum production or one of the Syfy Channel Saturday night movies, but it could have been more. Hopefully the next time someone decides to make a zombies vs. robots movie it will actually deliver the goods. Other than that it is still an okay low-budget movie that is just about worth a rental or at the very least a movie channel screening.
Battle of the Damned was written and directed by Christopher Hatton and also stars Matt Doran (The Matrix) and David Field. It will be released on bluray & dvd on February 18, 2014