Saturday, June 26, 2021

Battle of the Damned, Starring Dolph Lundgren

It is hard to say whether this film is a good advertisement for the robotics industry, but there is no denying these bots’ utility. A programming error once turned them into runaway killing machines, but they have mostly fixed themselves. They are still a little twitchy, but they are the best hope for a group of humans stranded amid a zombie apocalypse in Christopher Hatton’s Battle of the Damned, which airs tomorrow night on Comet TV.

The shadowy big pharma tycoon responsible for a massive zombie outbreak in Malaysia hires crusty military contractor Max Gatling to extract his daughter Jude before the damage-containing fire-bombing commences. The film keeps telling us these are not technically zombies, but they sure act like them. However, you can kill them with a good slash to the throat. That turns out to be a lucky thing when the mercs run out of ammo and are only left with their Rambo knives.

Pretty soon, Gatling is the only one left, but he remains duty- (and financially)-bound to complete his mission. It turns out Jude has holed up in the enormously cinematic Sultan Ibrahim Building with a rag-tag band of survivors. Their leader, “Duke,” has slipped a little too easily into the role of authoritarian decision-maker. He and Gatling are not going to get along. Just when things look completely dire for our man Gatling, the robots turn up.

Damned is set in the same world as Hatton’s Robotropolis, which told their origin story. However, even if you saw the previous film, their arrival still comes way out of left field. Yet, you have to give Hatton and the effects team credit for really delivering on the promise of robot versus zombie action. You never have to sit around waiting for something to happen in this movie.

Of course, Dolph Lundgren is reliably steely as ever playing Gatling. He looks totally credible blowing away zombies. It is also nice to see an action hero who can rock a pair of reading glasses. The rest of the cast are really just serviceable at best, but Lundgren’s real co-stars are the robots. Plus, co-star Jen Kuo Sung’s fight choreography is pretty impressive (and he has the chops too).

Battle of the Damned
is about as meatheaded as movies can get, but it delivers for its intended audience. As formulas go, you can do a lot worse than adding together Dolph Lundgren, robots, zombies, and some striking architecture together. Recommended for fans of Beyond Skyline (who are looking for something a bit less sophisticated), Battle of the Damned airs tomorrow night (6/27) on Comet (and it streams on Hoopla).