Shoktir Lorai (Review)
Still better than the remake
Robocop gets remade by Bangla cinema, and the result is far from the worst Robocop film. Shoktir Lorai (শক্তির লড়াই) takes the basic premise of a murdered man being rebuilt into a robot who fights for justice, adds an evil counterpoint built by the villains, and throws in as many other Bangla tropes as they can to bring about a movie that is amazing and ridiculous while still being as Bangla as possible.
Bangla cinema is full of over the top characters and over the top action films, and it’s amazing just how naturally science fiction fits right in. We’ve seen a prior example of Bangla robots battling it out with Machine Man, and that film even stole some of the same parts of Robocop that Shoktir Lorai did! (though it was mostly stealing from Terminator franchise!)
As usual with these rarities, the review is a longform synopsis with commentary and we’ve included plenty of pictures and animated gifs. Thanks to Bangla cinema being so rarely written about in English, the cast and character names are partial guesses, and there are no subtitles to speak of. But at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles! I can’t seem to tell if this film was originally made for television or if it had a theatrical run, but television is where it first caught my attention as someone uploaded a clip to YouTube, and after that it was only a matter of two years of searching before I located a copy. Basically, any rare film you can’t find in less than an hour will probably take years to locate, that’s the disparity of rare cinema. So if people can fill in the blanks on who Shahin Alam and Notun are as well as all the actresses/actors who are nameless, it would be a great help!
It’s everyone’s favorite scene!
The march of the production companies in the beginning includes a company called High Power. Even the names of Bangla production companies showcase strength.
The opening fanfare starts out as one song before morphing into several songs played over each other with static buzzing away. It’s a really weird medley that I don’t know if it is done on purpose or not, because the style is nor repeated in the rest of the movie, the score of which is mainly songs swiped from Hollywood films.
I am glad that even with the march of technology that Banglar Pop Cinema still looks like they processed the print with the floor of a movie theater after a 24 hour film marathon. Scratched to hell and back, murky coloration, and random overexposure points, it’s a glorious mess.
Scientists are hard at work pouring colored water into gigantic round flasks, at which point their very modern 1990s computer let’s them know “BRAIN WASH”. As you can imagine, that means head scientist Dr. Mola celebrates, and then explains to his assistant Dr. Johan how important BRAIN WASH is. It sounds pretty important.
Dr. Johan, his wife (who is also Dr. Mola’s older daughter), and their daughter Lita go to the beach and have a happy family time musical number, which is interrupted by a bunch of thugs who walk up and sexually harass the wife. They then beat up Dr. Johan until cops drive by and the goons run off.
The next day there is even more exciting science discoveries, including someone shouting “Eureka!”
A woman in a San Francisco Giants cap is driving so badly she not only runs over a fruit car but also drives through two shacks. This could either be somewhere in Bangladesh or the Bay Area, no stranger to awful drivers. She’s Charmine, Dr. Mola’s younger daughter, and she gets arrested by a cop she thinks was going to hit on her. He’s Inspector Suhil, who is her sort of boyfriend that they have some sort of playful flirtatious thing going on but that doesn’t stop him from throwing her in the slammer or her then doing a musical fantasy number where they are dressed like extras from Grease. Basically these characters are superflurious and just here to add a popular supporting actress and to have a heroic authority figure character who can act as the law while Robocop is free to murder his enemies and is above the law.
Inspector Suhil has his own fantasy song romance sequence in response to Charmine’s, except his costumes are a bit more wholesome than Charmine’s greaser getup. Which proves the point I just made. I’ll be typing the rest of this review with my feet kicked up on the desk in self-congratulations.
Okay, maybe not, it’s a lot harder to type in that position.
A trio of goons gun down an old man in the street, and Dr. Johan gets out of his car to watch like a moron. This ends with him being carjacked and forced to drive the villains away from the scene of the crime. Miraculously, they let him live, which is dumb on their part because he then just memorizes the license plate of the car they steal when they leave him and reports it to the cops. The cops bring in a bunch of goons for questioning and they get to see Dr. Johan during this time, which means he’s now a target of the gang.
The villains are lead by a grey-haired businessman named Sharif Mohammad, who is evil for reasons not easily explained when there are no subtitles. His right hand girl is Julie, she’s there basically to look mean and all the real killing is done by his army of nameless goons. They make threatening phone calls to Dr. Johan’s wife, to get Johan recant his ID of the suspects. He refuses, identifies them anyway, and has the police put his family in a safehouse guarded by the cops.
Not that this will stop anything this early in the movie, mind you, we still need the tragidy that causes revenge to be sought and the hero to become Robocop.
Inspector Suhil takes the wife and daughter in for more questioning, except they aren’t there when Dr. Johan goes to see them, and Suhil is confused as he never took them for questioning. Because they were kidnapped by an impostor wearing a Inspector Popni mask!! Dun dun DUN!
Inspector Popni is tossed in jail for kidnapping! This time Charmine can cry for him being in jail instead of acting upset that she’s in the klink.
Sharif Mohammad calls Dr. Johan to meet him by a volcano, where he’ll trade him back his family. Despite the fact there are like 25 armed guys there, the young daughter Lita just runs away from them down the side of the cliff to her dad, all while the Superman Theme plays in the background music. Lita is gunned down by the villain who finally aims and fires, the Superman Theme still blaring. Then they shoot Dr. Johan in the back a few times, and the wife faints to they just leave her there and book it. Hours later, the wife awakens to find Lita dead and Dr. Johan barely alive.
So she drives not to the hospital, but to her dad’s laboratory where Dr. Mola can start doing SCIENCE! on Johan. He straps him to a table underneath two big overhead machines, puts a steels strip over his head, and injects him with stuff and then zaps him with the machines which emit red light. A computer has readouts for E.C.G. and Blood.
After a bunch of surgeries, Johan is alive, and then gets up and walks around and can even lift large glass flasks that normal people could lift. He also doesn’t seem to talk any more. So they give him armor that looks mysteriously just like a bootleg Robocop costume and then try to teach him to do stuff. Bangla Robocop is born!
Robocop just ignores them and walks past them, then gets into a jeep and drives off. Dr. Mola and Wife follow in another jeep, while the background music sounds like it is a bad approximation of the Robocop Theme without actually being the Robocop theme. I’m not sure if it’s just a track from maybe one of the Canadian sequel movies or just something else they stole that sounds similar enough to work.
Robocop drives to the volcano canyon where everyone died and freaks out and screams and screams, then leaves to drive off again.
Robocop drives up to a woman being attacked by THREE goons (and it is now suddenly night time) and thanks to the power of using footage from the actual Robocop, he takes a gun out of his leg holster. Good thing they equipped him with a gun? Robocop shoots the main goon in the balls through the skirt of the woman (as in the movie), then tosses the other two guys each on top of different buildings. His wife laughs at this. There is no scene where 100 other guys with their pants down run up so Robocop can shoot 100 people in the dick, though, which is still the iconic remake of this scene.
And Robocop can talk since he talks to the lady who he saved, so good job to Robocop for speaking to some random woman before he talks to his wife, I’m sure that won’t be a topic of a fight years down the line.
I guess the plan now is to just spend their days driving around and looking for trouble, because that’s what Robocop and his Wife do again the next day until they stumble across some armed carjackers stealing a van. Robocop beats them up (they do some of that themselves, injuring themselves punching him) and we find out he is impervious to both bottles of alcohol getting tossed on him and bullets. His wife informs him he should probably bring these guys to the police station, so he does. Don’t worry, the Superman theme is playing all the while. It hasn’t abandoned this movie yet. Robocop now basically tosses a pile of criminals into the police station each day, at first the cops are ready to shoot him until he explains that he’s just tossing them criminals, so then they just wait for his deliveries.
Eventually Robocop and Wife stumble across one of the criminals who kidnapped his family, Robocop and her toss him around and demand information on the boss. Robocop then smashes through a wall in Sharif Mohammad’s headquarters. How dare you suggest the wall was a doorway stacked with fake bricks to make him look like he was bursting through real bricks, this was totally Robocop smashing through a real wall. The villains recognized them and Wife gives her impassioned speech about how they are all awful people and it’s revenge time, so they best be eating their cold-served dish of Robocop fist to their faces! Or something to that effect.
The bad guy goons line up and fire guns repeatedly, yet the guns do nothing. Luckily the evil lair has a lot of stacked empty barrels for Robocop to toss the goons into. Sharif Mohammad and Julie hide while the gunfire is happening, and then make a break for it when Robocop is tossing people around. No one seems to notice the Sharif Mohammad is missing, despite him being the target of the attack, and he’s easily able to follow Robocop and Wife back to the lab.
Sharif Mohammad spies on them a bit then goes to his other secret lair and sits in a chair and thinks to himself. This secret lair features a big stage background behind him that features two plywood buildings connected by a plywood rainbow that arcs over where his chair is. This is totally not what you expect from an evil businessman’s secret lair office, but maybe that is a clue as to what his evil pan is. He wants to corner the market in bootleg Rainbow Connection merchandise! No wonder he wants Robocop dead!
Sharif Mohammad sends in a bunch of goons to kidnap Dr. Mola. In a nice touch he doesn’t even notice them surrounding him with guns drawn until he’s done mixing some chemicals. Sharif Mohammad also went to the trouble to kidnap Dr. Mola’s wife and his other daughter Charmine, all to force Dr. Mola to make Sharif Mohammad his own Robocop. Dr. Mola objects, saying the treatment only works if someone is basically dead and then is brought back, so Sharif Mohammad shoots Julie! Now Dr. Mola must turn her into Robocop 2.0, or his wife and daughter get electrocuted!
Despite the drama, Robocop and Wife are having a musical interlude where she dances around him and he looks every weird sap character who reaches out for the girl dancing around him but can’t grab her that we see in a surprising amount of these musical sequences, except thanks to the Robocop costume and the robotic acting he looks even more like a weirdo. After the song the creepy rapist gang from the beach returns and Robocop is sicced on them. They shoot a gun at Robocop, but we already know the gun will do nothing, and then try to run, but Robocop chases them down and beats them up, including brutally murdering the gang leader by stomping on his chest.
Wife brings Robocop to the grave of his dead child, which appears to be the first time the daughter has been acknowledged since she died, and Robocop has a flashback memory of his daughter singing that quickly turns into a flashback of her murder, and Robocop cries.
Julie is now Robocopped herself, except she doesn’t get her own armor, because the process is now refined enough that the armor is not needed. Also because it cost money to make a Robocop costume, this movie isn’t made of money, it’s made of cardboard! Sharif Mohammad has Julie murder all the spare scientists who aren’t Dr. Mola. Wife is soon captured when she discovers all the bodies, but Inspector Sunil is out of jail and a cop again somehow (I guess he got cleared of the charges off camera) and spots them leaving with her and follows.
At Sharif Mohammad’s lair, he’s now wearing a giant white hat and shows off the revived Julie to Wife, and then shows off her kidnapped family members Dr. Mola, Dr. Mola’s wife, and Charmine, all strapped to chairs. The cops raid the place, but Julie has Wonder Woman powers and can deflect bullets with metal bracelets. Also the soundtrack plays random crow calls when she’s moving on screen which is hilarious. Does that make her Robocrow? Inspector Suhil lets all the other cops get murdered by Julie while he runs off on a motorcycle, but he’s shot in the shoulder as he flees.
Sharif Mohammad demands Charmine do a seductive song and dance for him…or else! She agrees only when her dad makes her, but the song time gives plenty of time for the wounded Inspector Suhil to go get Robocop. And also heal from his gunshot injury, because we’ll soon see Inspector Suhil tossing bad guys all over the place and not bothered at all by his injury.
Robocop battles Julie as Inspector Suhil cuts a swath through the other goons. Julie has the power to slide along the floor and kick people, which is really hilarious as these two cartoon characters have an over the top cartoon fight in a movie that is filled with over the top cartoon fights, which means this fight has to make all the others pale in comparison to how ridiculous it is. Basically, this is my jam. Sharif Mohammad takes a break from yelling “KILL HIM!!!” every three seconds to escape when all the prisoners are set loose and Wife tries to attack him. She chases after him in a jeep as he runs.
Robocop and Julie are fighting so rough the whole building starts coming down. Robocop and Julie manage to kick down and rip up several trees. Robocop manages to scoop her up with the end of a tree, flip her into a river, and then slam her into the mud under the river with the tree trunk. He leaves and walks off but you know the trunk then flies up and she jumps out of the water and the battle continues.
Robocop drives to the volcano from earlier and Julie follows in a different vehicle, then they continue to fight. At one point Robocop is dangling from a cliff, but manages to grab Julie and they both fall off it. Then he pick her up and tosses her into the volcano, which erupts! Ah, the ol’ throw someone into a volcano while standing at the base of the volcano trick.
Wife has managed to run over Sharif Mohammad like 3 times but he’s only slightly injured, but Inspector Suhil demands she not kill him and let the courts take care of it. But Sharif Mohammad escapes while they are arguing, and Robocop catches him, then rips off his right arm, and hands him over to the cops. So he’s going to live, but is down a whole limb.
Thanks to all this fighting, Robocop now has his memories back, and everyone lives ever after. Except for all the people who died and were traumatized by all the killings and violence, and also Robocop is mostly a machine at this point so he can’t really hold a real job. That’s assuming he isn’t charged for ripping off a helpless guy’s arm. Happily ever after!
While the Robocop stuff is fun, the film is too often mired in the non-fun stuff, and just follows the same old revenge arc that is in so many films without the Robocop flavoring. So I can’t really recommend this for anyone who isn’t already up to the challenge of watching unsubtitled unauthorized remakes of American films.
Maybe don’t aim for the bracelets?
Rated 6/10 (scrub brain twice a day, Chekov’s volcano, hostages, wallsplosion, beach villain, fist blocking!)
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