Ah, Rutger Hauer.
Probably one of the bigger influences on my creative works through the 1980’s. The character of B’taav, the Independent who is one of the protagonists in my Corrosive Knights series, was based on Rutger Hauer and French actor Jean Marais…
I loved his appearances -brief yet stunning as it was- in Blade Runner, which will probably be viewed as his seminal role. But he was so great in The Hitcher, Ladyhawke, and Nighthawks.
He was also great, IMHO, in lesser films like Wanted: Dead or Alive and Split Second.
If you go over to Mr. Hauer’s IMDb page, you’ll find a massive 175 acting credits to his name. Looking over the many works he did post 2000, it was clear that though he remained quite active and in demand, his greatest days were behind him before he passed away in 2019.
The reality, sadly, is that even in the later 1980’s Mr. Hauer was beginning to appear in lower budgeted films, some of which were …uh… questionable in quality.
In 1996 he appeared in the film Omega Doom, which some consider the absolute nadir of Mr. Hauer’s starring films. Here’s the movie’s trailer:
Let me start by saying until yesterday I never saw this film. Further to that, my understanding is that the film is related, perhaps obliquely, to the 1989 Jean-Claude Van Damme film Cyborg. This is because the movie’s director, Albert Pyun, was behind both films as well as a few others set in the Cyborg universe.
Anyway, let’s get this out of the way: The film is quite terrible.
It features a meandering plot which directly lifts -or rips off, depending on how kind you want to be about it- Yojimbo/A Fistful of Dollars.
The plot is that in a post-apocalyptic world, the sole survivors are robots that were built to destroy humans. The robots have formed their own “tribes” and fight against each other but one robot, Hauer’s Omega Doom (yeah, that’s the character’s name!) sustained an injury to his head which made him lose his original murderous programming. He’s effectively become a “good guy” who roams the apocalyptic world and happens to stumble upon a small town which has two robot sides -who would normally be fighting against each other- living in a weird uneasy truce. There’s also a bartender and a robot “head” being kicked around.
Omega Doom enters this town and, like Yojimbo/A Fistful of Dollars, he will work both sides against each other. But the story is presented almost incoherently and at the end two prominent characters introduced early on simply disappear, never to be seen again.
Further, the movie’s effects are mostly amateurish at best and downright embarrassing at worst. Oddly enough, I would have been more forgiving had the film been released in the 1980’s rather than 1996.
The acting in the film is actually pretty damn good. Much better than one would think.
Then there’s Rutger freaking Hauer.
He’s very good in a role that, as I mentioned before, is essentially a re-tread of Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo and Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars. Don’t get me wrong: He doesn’t necessarily goes outside his comfort zone yet he’s got his charisma going and is an intriguing presence.
As I also mentioned, most of the small cast around Mr. Hauer are pretty damn good as well.
Anna Katarina is very sympathetic as the Bartender who wishes all the violence would stop. Likewise, Norbert Weisser is fun as the “Head”, a decapitated robot head that is battered around but is helped by Hauer’s Omega Doom.
The other actors -and there aren’t that many!- playing the various villains are also quite good.
One can’t help but wonder if the film had a better budget and stronger effects along with a more polished script this movie might have a far better reputation than it does.
As it stands, though, I can’t recommend Omega Doom to anyone out there other than big fans -like me- of Rutger Hauer.