Go ahead, punk, mech my day.
Few moments in films are as epic or entertaining as a good robot scrap. More varied than a bar-room brawl, and more socially acceptable than forcing two fat children to fight over a Twix, the clash of two robots spells almost certain destruction for at least a mile-wide radius. And while many see robo-barneys as ‘big dumb fun’, some are as beautifully choreographed as even the most elaborate martial arts face-off.
So blindfold the toaster (in case it gets any wise ideas) and join us as we celebrate the biggest, meatiest, metal-clankingest (totally a word) robot fights in all of cinema. And yes, we know some of these are mechs. And robot suits. Look, just enjoy the feature, yeah?
25. The Black Hole (1979)
The Robots: The stubby V.I.N.CENT, a.k.a. Vital Information Necessary CENTralised. It operates and shares a distinct visual similarity to Tik Tok from Return To Oz crossed with a Henry vacuum cleaner. Its opponent is the far more dastardly Maximillian, an ominous slightly more humanoid-looking robot working for the bad guys.
The Battle: V.I.N.CENT engages his hover mode, honing in on Max while blasting away with his lasers. The tussle turns into a Tom and Jerry-esque chase, as Max charges after the flying hoover – his mecha arms clutching the little ‘bots’ body zapping him of energy.
The Victor: V.I.N.CENT triumphantly ploughs into Max when a suggestive drill bit emerges from his nether regions, frying the bigger bot.
24. Screamers (1995)
The Robots: Two identical AMS (Autonomous Mobile Swords) androids, complete with artificial intelligence and self-replicating capabilities. Often referred to as Screamers due to the sound they emit during battle.
The Battle: Rumbling poor old Hendrickssons (Peter Weller) hope of a horizontal shuffle before death, turns out Jessica (Jennifer Rubin) is merely an attractive bag of nuts and bolts – as evidenced by the arrival of an identical robot. Hendricksson tries to escape back to Earth, the mirrored pair get entangled in a ‘toss ’em about the room’-style brawl as Good Jessica tries to pull a swifty on Bad Jessica. Kicking, lobbing, well-timed sucker punches, it’s all a-go.
The Victor: Good Jessica punches through Bad Jess’s guts, sending her electronic lower intestine into sparky spasms before she short circuits.
23. Robo Warriors (1996)
The Robots: A behemoth Earthbot (piloted by James Remar) left to wither away as Earth is ravaged by aliens. Tall as a skyscraper, with guns, lasers and steel pincers to really squeeze the pain. Another towering mecha-bot, equipped with rocket launchers and lasers. This one manned by a reptilian alien.
The Battle: The lumbering mechas pummel each other – laser streams zapping, metal-to-metal wrestling until Robo Warrior summons a blue circular laser thats presumably rather hot as it slices through his foe like buttah. Nice.
The Victor: Severe damage to both ‘bots means this one’s more of a tie.
22. Nemesis (1992)
The Robots: On the brink of death after a savage gang beat-down, Alex Raine (Olivier Gruner) undergoes a strenuous cyborgian recovery. Meaning he ain’t human no more. His adversary is the creation of a newly-designed android that sucks the life-force from people and plops it into synthetic bodies instructed to do its bidding. For lucky Alex, his nemesis appears as his old boss Farnsworth (Tim Thomerson).
The Battle: After all of Farnsworth’s team wipe out a crew of freedom fighters, the coiffed droid then unleashes a relentless shotgun assault against Alex and his friend Max before their final showdown… As Alex and Max try to escape in an aerodyne pod, Farnsworth re-appears, bearing only his mechanical endoskeleton. With the pod shooting through the air, he taunts Alex on the loading dock.
The Victor: Robo-Farnsworth plummets to his death after tearing Alex’s cybernetic arm free of its socket.
21. Robot Wars (1993)
The Robots: MRAS-2: a giant, mechanical scorpion robot hijacked by Wa-Lee, evil leader of the Eastern Alliance. His humanoid adversary is the MEGA-1: a humongous mega-robot left buried beneath the waste of a world succumbed to a fatal toxic event.
The Battle: The Megarobots jockey, Drake, takes to the MRAS-2 like it’d personally nipped at his nuts with its crushing pincers. With the two enemies head-to-head, their robot counterparts tackle each other on the dusty desert floor.
The Victor: MEGA-1 saves the day, restoring order to the land and finishing off scorpion.
20. Robocop 2 (1990)
The Robots: Tin cop with a heart, Alex Murphy (Peter Weller) – a.k.a. Robocop – and the newer, shinier, murderous, Robocop 2. An updated version of the original ‘bot, Robocop 2 is entwined with the brain of a power-hungry drug-dealer, Cain.
The Battle: At a press conference unveiling the new Robocop, Cain gets a sniff of the drug he’s addicted to and overrides all of his programmed directives. He opens fire on the crowd, taking them out with round after round, until Murphy shows up and the cyborgs battle it out, metal-to-the-metal.
The Victor: Murphy teases Cain with a canister of the drug, distracting him. He punches through the ‘bot, and tears out Cain’s brain.
19. The Transformers: The Movie (1986)
The Robots: The evil head of the Decepticons, Megatron, and heroic leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime.
The Battle: One of the most unexpectedly sad robotic showdowns ever presented in glorious animation. The two robots-in-disguise go tet-a-tet in a vicious brawl. Optimus jabs away at Megatron, landing some punishing blows but it’s the beastly bad guy who has the last laugh.
The Victor: Megatron penetrates through Optimus’ stomach with a giant shard, rubbing salt in the wound by blasting the gash with his gun a few times for good measure.
18. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge Of The Sith (2005)
The Robots: Obi-Wan’s personal ‘bot, R4 P17, a female astromech droid and a swarm of buzz droids; spider-style weapons deployed at enemys ships to disarm them with a series of mechanical tools.
The Battle: During the heart-racing Battle of Coruscant, Obi-Wan’s ship is attacked by a cluster of buzz droids who set about trying to breach the hull and send him to a fiery grave. R4-P17, the chirpiest ‘bot since R2, stands her ground on the wing to keep them at bay…
The Victor: The Buzz Droids finish off R4 by sawing off her head with an electric drill bit.
17. I, Robot (2004)
The Robots: A fleet of Nestor Class 5 robots, the humanoid NS-5 ‘bots don’t hide their mechanical infrastructure. Except for their heads, on which they have sinister human-esque faces. And their punching bags: the NS-1, NS-2, NS-3 and NS-4 robots. A simpler design, their faces aren’t capable of disturbing expressions.
The Battle: Down in Lake Michigan storage facility, where the first four robot models are kept locked up, the NS-5s start a war. On the cusp of taking control of… well, the world, they drag out these previous iterations and brutally tear them apart.
The Victor: The NS-5s equipped with free will leave the older bots for scrap.