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Hands of Steel (1986) - Blu-ray Review

3 beers"You have no future," read the signs and flyers populating this flick.  With those words, a whole new world of arm-wrestling, cyborgs, truck drivers, and low-flying helicopter chases over bridges begins.  Hands of Steel goes rogue soon after it begins and concerns itself with a killer cyborg that decides, after meeting his target, to be a real boy instead. 

We know the score of these kinds of science fiction flicks.  These androids  - however humanlike they are – are usually on a mission to kill.  It’s for the greater good we are told.  And their targets are usually someone who knows just how to save or destroy the world. But this one, who has feelings and knows how to rip out hearts from deep inside men's chests, decides his own fate.  A robot with a soul?  There's no way this futureshock setting goes wrong. 

Economical and usually precise, these action flicks are populated with grimy characters, echoing the mutilated times of the era they are housed within.  We get ass-kicking damsels in sudden distress and hitmen with major attitudes.  Their title sequences are usually in bold neon, announcing their intention to entertain from the very beginning.  Don’t take this movie seriously, they challenge us.  Usually, we don’t but sometimes – as was the case with The Terminator – these robots on their missions to kill cinematically take root within the culture.   

Keyed up on violence and on machismo, audiences get to cheer or boo them on in their missions to kill, kill or be destroyed as a heavily synthesized score blasts away in the background.  In that way, Hands of Steel – a low budget Italian exploitation flick starring Daniel Greene as the cyborg who is 30% human and John Saxon as industrialist Francis Turner, the dude who created him – absolutely works.  Oh, it’s ridiculously cheap and violent, but it does manage to tell Universal Soldier’s story six years BEFORE Jean-Claude Van Damme suited-up to kickbox himself into hearts and minds and that’s something, right?

Directed by Sergio Martino (Chopper Squad), Hands of Steel is a c-grade genre flick about a cyborg that is 70% android, which means it wouldn’t take much for him to squash a person like a fly.  One swat and you’re done.  That’s why he’s on the mission to kill in the first place.  Greedy people want him to take out some people they just don’t trust.  It’s the other 30% that his makers need be concerned about.  You see, Paco Queruak’s human side won’t let him carry out his mission to kill a handicapped leader with the fate of mankind in his hands and so he punches through motorcycle helmets in rage.

Eventually, our robot assassin says, “fuck it” and starts rolling cars off desert cliffs and heads for the hills by way of a arm wrestling competition.  Hey, it was the 1980s and roided-out games were all the rage.  Truckers and big, beefy arms got you in a lot of places.  The robot has gone rogue and, as he will have to arm-wrestle himself into safe haven, joins forces with the seedier side of life as he prepares to go up against his own makers in an epic showdown against the Arizona desert.

This super macho flick, outside of its buckets of cyborg cheese, is probably best remembered as being the death sentence for beloved actor Claudio Cassinelli who, alongside pilot Dennis Nasca, perished in a stunt accident that caused a helicopter to clip the Navajo Bridge as it flew under it and plummet into the Colorado River below.  This accident marred the film’s release and probably contributed to its quick disappearance as Cassinelli, before all that happened, simply killed it as the bounty hunter assigned to take down Queruak.

Code Red, giving this hammed-up, emotionless movie a second chance to find footing within the hearts of retrograde cult film lovers, brings Hands of Steel to blu-ray with a new HD scan with additional color corrections throughout.  The results are fantastic – especially the ripped-off scene where Queruak tweaks on his own robotic hand (like Luke Skywalker in Empire) and the finale with its big, bad laser gun.    

Co-starring George Eastman, Donald O'Brien, Roberto Bisacco, and a karate kicking female robot in a clear miniskirt (you know, like Blade Runner), Hands of Steel might be filled with bad hairdos and bad acting but that doesn’t stop it from ripping off all it can (Over the Top which was filming down the road) and trying to sell it as the freshest bullshit around. 

And sometimes, like the ridiculous strippers in the remote Arizona bar, that’s exactly what the doctor ordered.


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Hands of Steel (1986) - Blu-ray Review

MPAA Rating: R.
94 mins
: Sergio Martino
Sergio Martino
Daniel Greene, Janet Agren, Claudio Cassinelli
: Action | Sci-fi
The year 1997: the guardian of the future is much more than a human being...
Memorable Movie Quote: "Just follow my orders and we won't fail."
Theatrical Distributor:
Almi Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 29, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 7, 2017
Synopsis: Sinister industrialist Francis Turner creates a cyborg known as Paco Queruak, who has been programmed to terminate the leader of an ecological faction that stands in the way of the dystopian country. After failing in his mission to eliminate the ecologist, Paco flees to Arizona and hides in a local diner. Now, a hitman and a local trucker have been sent to eliminate the cyborg in this exciting Italian classic directed by Sergio Martino (Violent Professionals).


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Hands of Steel (1986) - Blu-ray Review


Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Code Red
Available on Blu-ray
- February 7, 2017
Screen Formats: 1.67:1
: None
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; single disc
Region Encoding: Region-free playback

With an aspect ratio of 1.67:1 and a 2.0 DTS-HD sound mix, Code Red presents Hands of Steel on 1080p.  It’s not as detailed as you might like it to be but it is not a bad transfer.  It just feels a bit limp in certain areas.  Colors are strong and black levels are good, too.  There are few textures running throughout but the ones we get are nice.  And fleshy.  There is some grain and some pixilation, but nothing too terrible that should prevent you from purchasing if you are fan of killer robots. 



  • None

Special Features:

Along with the new HD color corrected scan, buyers get supplemental materials that are exclusive to this release and include interviews with star Daniel Greene, John Saxon, director Sergio Martino, George Eastman and Roberto Bisacco.  A theatrical trailer is also included.

  • Daniel Greene Interview (30 min)
  • John Saxon Interview (5 min)
  • Sergio Martino Interview (17 min)
  • George Eastman Interview (11 min)
  • Roberto Bisacco Interview (15 min)
  • Theatrical Trailer


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Hands of Steel (1986) - Blu-ray Review