Hands of Steel aka Atomic Cyborg begins in an apartment building in which we’re lead to believe is the headquarters of an organization attempting to change the world via ecological science. Just outside of this building, an unknown man finds his way inside and attempts to kill the blind leader of said organization. However, we see that the blind man survives and the assailant escapes to the underground tunnels of the city.
Now running for his life, Paco Queruak (Daniel Greene), the so-called terminator, finds a vehicle to escape and drives towards the desert. We’re next introduced to Francis Turner (John Saxon) whom is the international industrialist that created Paco. You see, Paco is 70% cyborg and 30% human. It seems that Turner’s programmable cyborg had a conscious after all and couldn’t kill the blind scientist thus foiling Turner’s plan to rid the earth of the ecologically correct scientist.
At this point, Turner needs to clean up the mess he’s made and sends out a couple of men to exterminate Paco. Paco eventually finds himself at a small roadside hotel/diner in the hot Arizona desert where he befriends the owner, Linda (Janet Agren) taking repair jobs in exchange for room and board. After becoming close, Paco will protect Linda from the local thugs all the while running from Turner and his assassins whom are bearing down on him.
Hands of Steel was a surprisingly entertaining film to watch. I honestly didn’t expect too much going into the film so this is likely the reason I enjoyed it so much. If you’re a fan of the 80s action genre, then you’ll no doubt see that Hands of Steel is the bi-product of films that came before it. In particular, The Terminator (1984). And while Over the Top (1987) came before Hands of Steel, one has to wonder how the arm-wrestling scene is so similar to that of the Stallone acted film.
As far as the film goes, at least from a technical stand point, director Sergio Martino does a serviceable job moving the film along at a nice steady pace. There’s nothing too spectacular here, and considering the films budget and somewhat weak script, it turns out to be a fun watch. This is mostly due to the performances of Daniel Greene as the cyborg Paco, John Saxon as Francis Turner and Italian genre favorite, George Eastman as Raul Morales the arm-wrestling trucker.
Hands of Steel was written (screenplay) and directed by Sergio Martino (credited as Martin Dolman). The film was scored by Claudio Simonetti, shot by Giancarlo Ferrando (credited as John McFerrand) and edited by Eugenio Alabiso (credited as Alan Beugen). This of course is an Italian production disguised as a 100% Made In America film, thus is the reason for all the pseudonyms used in the credits.
Sergio Martino was for the most part a director for hire. Although he’s often thought of as a horror director, if you look at his resume, it’s clear he was just making a living doing what he loved, directing film, any genre of film. Blade of the Ripper (1971), The Case of the Scorpion’s Tail (1971), All the Colors of the Dark (1972), Torso (1973), High School Girls (1974), Silent Action (1975), 2019: After the Fall of New York (1983) and many others.
If you’re a fan of Italian film, then you’ve likely heard of composer Claudio Simonetti. For the most part, Simonetti stuck to the horror genre and scored wonderful music for films such as Deep Red (1975), Suspiria (1977), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Tenbre (1982), Conquest (1983) and Demons (1985) just to name a few. As a side-note, Simonetti was the keyboard player for the Italian band Goblin.
Cinematographer Giancarlo Ferrando has a number of genre films under his belt as well. Torso (1973), The Mountain of the Cannibal God (1978), Screamers (1979), The Scorpion With Two Tails (1982), 2019: After the Fall of New York (1983) and what has to be the low point of his career, Troll 2 (1990).
Last but not least is editor Eugenio Alabiso. This guy has 160+ credits as an editor and has done some amazing work. For a few Dollars More (1965), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Django, Prepare a Coffin (1968), The Unholy Four (1970), Blade of the Ripper (1971), The Case of the Bloody Iris (1972), Torso (1973) and Eaten Alive! (1980) to name just a few.
As far as Daniel Greene goes, he’s what makes Hands of Steel work so well. His performance as Paco the cyborg won’t win any Oscars, but it will sure put a smile on your face more than a few times when watching this low budget production. Greene has appeared in many films over the years but never did get that leading man break. Some of the films include Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988), Soldier of Fortune (1990), Kingpin (1996), There’s Something About Mary (1998), Me Myself & Irene (2000) and most recently Hall Pass (2011).
Thoughts In My Head:
- This looks like an extremely low budget film
- Daniel Greene is so sexy and sweaty
- What is all this duct work on building windows and cars
- Acid rain, HAHA!
- Dr. Peckinpah, someone was a fan of Sam
- Hmm, how did Paco lose his shirt. You just had to get that shirt off didn’t you Daniel
- Every shooting location in this film looks like a shit hole
- Ooh, arm-wrestling, with George Eastman no less
- This film is only interesting when Paco is on the screen
- Raul looses an arm wrestling match and he wants to kill Paco, what a sore loser
- This asshole wearing the sunglasses is starting to bother me
- My god, the FBI are slow and apparently they don’t have access to Government secrets
- OK, so he’s the 6 Million Dollar Man
- Wow, that’s an ugly fucking pair of ‘see through’ shorts
- Yeah, Raul’s a sore loser
- Oh shit, this woman’s a cyborg
- Off with her head “they will destroy you” she says
- Can’t afford extras for your film, just put one guy in a helmet and reuse him over and over again
- LOL, this laser-gun is ridiculous
- The FBI are completely inept
- “you don’t own a man until you own his heart” says Paco to Turner (a brilliantly corny line)
Favorite Badass or Badass Moment: Daniel Greene as Paco. He’s fucking unstoppable
Favorite Boobs or Boobs in a Scene: Two skanky strippers at a bar, neither are noteworthy
Favorite Death Scene: I’m gonna say George Eastman as Raul
Boob Count: 2 pair
Body Count: 13
IMDB Rating: 5.2 / 10
My Rating: 7.0 / 10
Final Thoughts: Hands of Steel is a low budget Italian production with high hopes of survival. I think it’s well worth a watch as it mimics the Terminator only on a much smaller scale. And oh, Daniel Greene is fucking AWESOME!