The dou­ble-bar­reled suc­cess of The Terminator and Robocop at the box office cre­at­ed a short-lived vogue for “robot/cyborg on a ram­page” movies.  Most of those films were dis­pos­able as you would expect trend-chas­ing films to be but there was one film to emerge from this pack that works in its own shame­less­ly com­mer­cial way: Eve Of Destruction.  It’s unde­ni­ably deriv­a­tive of its inspi­ra­tions but it adds in a few nov­el touch­es that make it a divert­ing pro­gram­mer.

The plot of Eve Of Destruction is comic book fod­der raised to the R-rat­ing lev­el: Dr. Eve Simmons (Renee Soutendijk) is the head of a top-secret gov­ern­ment project that is try­ing to cre­ate human-like robots to be used in com­bat sit­u­a­tions.  Her biggest suc­cess is Eve VIII, a per­fect repli­ca of her­self right down to the use of its creator’s own mem­o­ries.

However, things go awry with Eve VIII dur­ing a field test in San Francisco when she gets shot by a bank rob­ber.  The robot becomes inde­pen­dent and begins retrac­ing the steps of Simmons’ life, attempt­ing to right some past wrongs in an explo­sive fash­ion.  Not only is her cre­ation unbal­anced and prone to vio­lence, it also has some dan­ger­ous secrets that could endan­ger the whole coun­try.  Thus, Simmons is forced to team up with Colonel Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines), a hardass mil­i­tary vet whose anti-ter­ror­ist skills are put to the test by the good doctor’s robot­ic dop­pel­gänger.

Eve Of Destruction is the kind of high-tech pot­boil­er that is fun as long as you can look past the concept’s vis­i­ble seams.  The premise is full of con­cep­tu­al pot­holes that could have been avoid­ed, the biggest being that sci­en­tists would cre­ate an apoc­a­lyp­ti­cal­ly dan­ger­ous robot with no fail­safe shut­down options.  That said, the sto­ry­line that direc­tor Duncan Gibbins con­coct­ed with Yale Udoff works on a pulpy lev­el because it moves briskly and is packed with action.  Though it nev­er explores the con­cept in depth, it is inter­est­ing to note that the film could be con­sid­ered a riff on Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, with Eve the robot act­ing out the sub­con­scious desires and angers of Eve the doc­tor.

It helps that Gibbins knows that action and out­landish col­or are the big draws of his con­cept — and his direc­tion ensures that Eve Of Destruction is built around high­light­ing those qual­i­ties.  The action mix­es bom­bas­tic shootouts with some fun robot-splat­ter effects, par­tic­u­lar­ly a scene where some men attempt­ing to pick up Eve goes hor­ri­bly wrong and a tense finale set on the tracks of a sub­way with a rapid­ly approach­ing train.  The b-movie fun looks and sound sur­pris­ing­ly classy thanks to slick lens­ing from vet cin­e­matog­ra­pher Alan Hume and a lush, per­cus­sive score from Phillippe Sarde.

Eve Of Destruction also ben­e­fits from unique cast­ing: Soutendijk is best known to American view­ers for her roles in a cou­ple of key Paul Verhoeven films and she has fun with her dual role, bring­ing grav­i­ty to the doctor’s side of things while suit­ably camp­ing it up as the robot.  Hines is an unusu­al choice for a blus­tery tough-guy role but he gives a con­vinc­ing sar­casm that a typ­i­cal action hero type wouldn’t have been able to bring to it.  Sci-fi fans will also be amused to see fan favorite Kevin McCarthy pop up in a brief role.

All in all, Eve Of Destruction is essen­tial­ly a b-movie with A-movie resources — but that doesn’t make this Terminator-goes-girl-pow­er riff any less fun.  In fact, it feels like a fun indul­gence, the kind of midlevel pop­corn movie that gen­re fans rarely get to see in the­aters any­more today.  If you’re nos­tal­gic for the days when ram­pag­ing robots ruled the box office with R-rat­ed verve, Eve Of Destruction offers a female-friend­ly way to relive it.

Blu-Ray Notes: Scream Factory brought this title to blu-ray in the U.S. in a solid lit­tle “cat­a­log title”-style release.  The high-def trans­fer retains the appro­pri­ate cel­lu­loid look for the film while offer­ing a nice boost in col­or and detail lev­els.  The sound­track sticks to the orig­i­nal 2.0 stereo mix, pre­sent­ed in a loss­less form, and it does well with the per­cus­sive musi­cal score and fre­quent blasts of gun­fire.  It’s light on extras (just a trail­er) but it’s a wor­thy upgrade for fans.