[Blu-ray Review] When it Comes to the 'Robocop' Limited Edition from Arrow Video, I'd Buy that for A Dollar!
In 1987, one of the most delicious gems of the 80s was let out into the world: Robocop. Peter Weller’s portrayal of the one-liner touting, emotionally confused do-gooder cyborg is an all-time classic, and has been brought to fans in a new and improved version from Arrow Video with the release of a limited-edition Blu-ray that would make the hulking tin-can himself weep…
…Written by Edward Neumeier and Michael Miner and directed by the legendary Paul Verhoeven (Total Recall, Starship Troopers), Robocop hit the streets during a time when action films were big and bloody, but audiences had never seen anything like this. Set in a near-future world where crime has become rampant, we find ourselves in, of course, Detroit (though shot in Texas). Murphy (Weller), has just been transferred to a new station, and is partnered with the rough and tough Lewis (Nancy Allen playing against her usual type). Turns out, Murphy has shit luck, as he ends up with about a dozen bullets in him and a few missing limbs by the end of the day. Seeking a promotion at OCP, Morton (Miguel Ferrer) turns Murphy into a crime-fighting cyborg…a cyborg who happens to remember the men that killed him, and is on a mission to bring them in, dead or alive. Preferably, dead.
Opening on a bunch of guy butt in the showers at police headquarters, you immediately know Robocop is going to be different. Verhoeven has always gone against the grain when it comes to mainstream media, and so while other action films were giving audiences rippling muscle men and sexy babes, Robocop presents a refreshingly lanky Peter Weller as our hero, and Nancy Allen as his partner, an actress who had typically played the “hot girl”, most memorably perhaps as Chris in Carrie. We’re not distracted by the usual “will they or won’t they” budding romance. In fact, Lewis doesn’t even seem to like Murphy all that much. Verhoeven doesn’t worry about typical Hollywood tropes, and it shows.
Robocop says you can shove that forced romance trope up his shiny metal butt, because this film doesn’t need a romance subplot where it’s going. Eventually, the sexually tensionless duo ends up in a gunfight with That 70’s Show’s Eric Forman’s dad, Kurtwood Smith (Clarence) and his goons. In one of the most over-the-top and epically bloody executions on film, Clarence and his cronies treat Murphy to a death by a thousand bullets and leave him for dead. The blood in moments like this is as rich and bright as ever on this new disc, completely uncut and extending what is already an excessive moment. But that’s why we love this film.
In fact, if you’ve never seen the director’s cut of Robocop, I can safely say watching it on this disc is like experiencing a whole new, gloriously gory film. If you thought the early moment where Robocop’s robotic foil, ED-209, malfunctions and blasts an exec full of lead was tasteless, just wait until you see the extended version, where you can practically taste each bullet wound as it sprays a small geyser of bright red blood. The squib market was king in the 80s, and Verhoeven used their services to the fullest effect.
Every aspect of the film has been updated by Arrow to an impressive quality. Some would say the digital effects are dated, whereas I would say they have character, and everything, down to Robocop’s grid-like vision, is as crisp as ever. You can see every inch of detail on ED-209’s wobbly frame, and every drop of sweat on Kurtwood Smith’s dome.
Mixing a comic-book sense of humor with a heavy dose of violence and a hero facing an existential crisis in determining whether he’s even human or just a machine with the face of a man, Robocop is the gold standard when it comes to entertaining action films of the 80s. Dead or alive, this film takes you on an unforgettable adventure with a commentative eye towards the soullessness of technology. So, if you’ve never experienced this tongue-in-cheek, ultra-badass action flick, now’s the time, thanks to Arrow.
As for the special features on the new disc, Arrow has gone above and beyond in gathering content that will make it worth purchasing Robocop one last time. They have made Robocop bigger. Faster. Stronger. Shinier. The disc features two new commentaries, both great, but my favorite being with fans Christopher Griffiths, Gary Smart, and Eastwood Allen. All three seem to know just about everything about the film, including Kurtwood Smith’s apprehension towards the blood on set. Their energy and love of the film is infectious, and listening to them feels like being in a dive bar with a few shots of whiskey and talking the bloody ole days of 80s action movies.
Other extras like “RoboTalk”, a new roundtable discussion with co-writer Ed Neumeier and filmmakers David Birke and Nick McCarthy, is a fun chat detailing how Robocop came to have its comic book style. “Truth of Character”, an intimate conversation with star Nancy Allen, brought me a whole new appreciation, both for her character and for her as an actress. She discusses getting the part and her desire to approach it not like the “sexy” girl that’s described in the script, but as a down and dirty cop with an attitude. Hearing her talk about that damn haircut and her willingness to go along with it proves she’s a trooper who just wanted to make a great film, and that’s exactly what she did.
As if these and a bounty of other extras weren’t enough, the two disc-set even allows you to watch split-screen comparisons of the Director’s Cut vs the Theatrical Cut, as well as the Theatrical Cut vs the Edited for TV version. Did I just hear the obsessive nerd in you gasp over the opportunity to see every last difference of the cuts side by side? I know mine did.
If you’re a fan of Robocop, there should be nothing stopping you from buying this disc for a dollar (or a few more, in this case). You’re move, creep.
The two-disc, limited edition of Robocop is now available from Arrow Video.
Full Blu-ray Specs:
LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
By Matt Konopka