Critical Reaction

RoboCop Redux
The Gunarm
The Flightpack
Otomo Underground
On the set: Atlanta

Picture gallery > Movies > R3 > otomo

By: Phil Carpenter and Dan Persons

In a desperate move, the crazed Rehab officer MCdagget recruit Splatterpunks into his army and sends them out in a last-ditch attack on Gadillac Heights. Joining the assault is Otomo, a formidable martial arts android the Kanemitsu Corporation has unleashed to destroy Robocop.

According to director Fred Dekker this Japanese take on the Terminator, named by Frank Miller in homage to AKIRA creator Katsuhiro Otomo, is everything that RoboCop isn't. Robo is mostly a robot, or appears to be mostly a robot, Otomo appears to be mostly a human. Robo can move very slowly and deliberately, Otomo can move fast as a whip and do triple somersaults. Robo has a gun, Otomo has a sword...a sword that can cut through steel.

For the physically demanding role, Bruce Locke - who had no movement or martial arts training - was handed over to stunt and martial arts expert Bill Ryusaki. "For the first two months" said Locke, it was very, very intense. We went literally every day for anywhere from two to five hours a day. I would stretch out an hour in the morning, an hour at night because I'm not very flexible and that was one of the main concerns. I literally couldn't kick above your bellybutton. So that was that, and then I started to weight-train, too, so it got pretty rigorous as far as weight training during the day and working out with the martial arts at night. I found that to be a big toll on the body." Another thing that that worried Locke was that he had no actuall movement training. "It's easy throw lines out and things like that, but when you have to cross from one part of the stage to the next, sometimes that's the most terrifying thing for an actor; let alone carrying a sword and shooting a gun and being menacing. That worried me, too."

In studio training wasn't enough to prepare Bruce Locke for the adverse conditions he would encounter playing otomo during Robo3's initial location according to the actor. By the time we get to our night shoot it's 10 degrees. It snows during the day, 20 below with the windchill factor. The crew shows up and they're in arctic parkas, gloves, everythinq. You can only see their nostrils and the smoke of their breath. I have a suit on, standing there, freezing. They have a steel sword for me. It shatters-because of the cold into a million pieces. Question was, did i look mean, or did i just look cold?

Locke's adventure didn't begin or end that night, though. An encounter with Rob Bottin during which the makeup master had to take body castings in preparation for the creation of several animatronic otomos, left a literal impression on the actor, "What hasn't he done to me! They needed to take casts of, literally, my whole body, and that meant full head casts, body casts. In a confrontation between Robocop and Otomo, Robo fires a missile from his multi-weapon arm attachement, decapitating his opponent in a fiery explosion. Rob Bottin's company built three exploding Otomo heads for the scene. Fred Dekker's intention was to have it happen so quickly that there would only be a couple of frames to establish that it was Bruce Locke's face.

They did an extensive photo session with Bruce and took a lifecast of him screaming a sort of kung fu scream, then sculpted replicas of his head which were then molded. From those Henry Alvarez made three wax heads. There was also a fiberglass body made that was posed in a swinging position similar to Bruce Locke's position as he held up the sword. There was a very simple mechanism below camera that just let the body swing. As it did, the pyro-filled wax heads were detonated. Another Otomo head was made for a scene in which he gets hit in the face with a lead pipe. He comes up from beneath fame and his jaw is out of alignment - he moves his jaw from side to side, and you can see that it's broken. Then he put it back into place, but now he has this sort of Jack nicholson grin.

In the final part of the movie Robo flies into a trap as twin Otomo androids overwhelm the cyborg cop until Nikko uses her laptop computer to reprogram the deadly duo, causing them to redirect their assault on each other, which turn into the biggest Otomo gag in the movie. In the script, it reads that the two Otomos square of against each other, both swinging their samurai swords and striking at exactly the same moment, cutting each other's heads. Then their lifeless bodies were to fall on the boor, sparking and sputtering. For this they literally needed two mechanical dummies that we could activate with a push of a button to animate and swing at each other, with a switch inside the dummies so that when the blades actually made contact with the neck area, it would detonate a kind of rocket in the neck that would make the heads lift off, with pyrotechnics exploding out of the neck. That whole fireworks display was made into two phases so that some would go off when the heads first lifted off and others would go of when the heads hit the floor. The bodies were also mechanized so they would continue to swing as the heads flew up into the air. Then, once they were headless, the bodies would lose power and begin to collapse at the knees. These things were fully mechanical - no guys operating cables or anything.

Unfortunately, the hectic pace of the production schedule did not allow for the most advantageous shooting of the effect. Basically they shot it in one take, and they didn't get the cameras round to cover it the way Bottin had covered it in the tests. If anybody ever want to see the most bitchin' shot of two samurai guys cutting each other's heads of, Rob Bottin has the video. It was one of the neatest things they did but it's not in the movie.