Looking back at the original ROBOCOP - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Looking back at the original ROBOCOP

Tom Pheby hops into his 1987 Ford Taurus and discovers the future of law enforcement.

Before I review the all new bells and whistles release of RoboCop (2014) I thought it would be interesting to go back and cast a beady eye over the original feature made in 1987, staring Peter Weller as the gun totting, no nonsense, robotic law enforcer.

Years before the Sylvester Stallone's Judge 'Dreadful' reached the screen, this metallic villain nabber was upholding the law and dishing out as many fines as he was drilling holes into people in the grimy city streets of Detroit (Delta City) - while Dread was probably still working in the lost property department or rounding up stray dogs.

Alex 'Nice Guy' Murphy (Weller) is brutally killed by a gang of drug fueled, badly dressed waifs and strays - you know the type of gormless, troublesome oinks that pollute most city streets at chucking out time on a Friday night. He is then resurrected by the science division of Omni Consumer Products or OCP (which I always thought sounded like a condition that makes you stack your cans of beans with all the labels facing out!) He metamorphosis into a cross between Dirty Harry, Rooster Cogburn and a silver Buick. Out to punish the guilty and those that put him in an early grave.

It's all a bit Six Million dollar man (if you don't know who that is ask your Dad), it's dramatic and thought provoking stuff about the dangers of dabbling in the dark arts of science, and a worrying insight of what traffic wardens might look like in the future. It's a story of greed, power and corruption on a scale not seen since the last Tory Manifesto. It's a story of authoritarianism and what you could do if given enough time with the left over parts of a washing machine and several spare toasters.

Paul Verhoeven directs this gritty, dark and disturbing look at a City in a state of collapse, taken over by a network of criminals that make the mafia look like the Salvation Army before band practice (by the way, it's not a real army if the only weapon you have is a tambourine). OCP ensure chaos by manipulating the Police force to go on strike so they can tighten their grip on their masses and scare the gullible public into surrender. As the Kaiser Chiefs will tell you, it's not long before the inevitable rioting and looting takes place and our hero is sent out to shoot stuff with a gun that never seems to run out of bullets.

Once again we encounter the king of the waifs and strays in the form of brooding scallywag Clarence Boddicker played superbly by Kurtwood Smith, a part time psychopath and general nasty piece of work who just happens to be in the pocket of the OCP chairman, 'The Old Man', played with vigour by typecast Dan O'Herlihy. There follows a series of brilliant shoot outs and show downs as RoboCop tries to unearth the truth whilst enforcing the law under his programmed directives:

1. Serve the public trust.
2.Protect the innocent
3. Uphold the law

If there was a forth it should surely be to blow up anything in a ten mile radius and shoot anyone in a leather jacket, or sporting a ponytail and beard.

Murphy suffers recurring flash backs to his former life and manages to override the directives at a crucial point in the film whilst developing a conscience, his own set of values, and rebooting part of his personality in the process.

I've always liked this Film even though the CGI is more Camberwick Green than Star Wars, which makes it hard not to smirk at the effects, but it holds up well as a story and all involved act their socks off, even Nancy Allen who at times doesn't look like she knows one end of a gun from the other. Plus points are the gun that pops out from RoboCop's steely pants - love that - the quirky dialogue "Dead or alive, you're coming with me" and the volume of bodies that stack up in a short space of time.

So after watching the classic version, now it's time to see how well the remake stacks up. Click here for my review of RoboCop 2014.

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