Francis Turner (John Saxon, who I will opine is my favorite American actor in a foreign genre film ever) has created a cyborg who is 70% robot and 30% human, Paco Queruak. He programs him to kill a scientist with plans to cure acid rain (that was a big problem back in the 80’s that, much like killer bees, has just gone away). However, his solution runs afoul of the military/industrial complex that Turner works for. So he must die. And guess who programs him? Donald O’Brien, Doctor Butcher, M.D. himself!
However, Paco still has humanity inside and abandons his mission and sets out to discover more of his past in Arizona. There, he finds love with Linda (Janet Agren, City of the Living Dead, Eaten Alive!) in literally ten or twenty seconds of screen time. And he gets into a feud with Paul Morales (George Eastman!), a redneck trucker who don’t take too kindly to strangers around these parts.
Paul is an arm wrestler, too. It’s no coincidence that Hands of Steel was going to come out at the same time as Over the Top (which according to this article, was filming just 50 miles away).
Then it’s back to the military/industrial complex, who sends a whole bunch of killers after our hero. There are bikers, mafia guys and even a ripoff of Pris from Blade Runner that Paco beats by ripping off her head. Then Paul comes back to try and kill Paco, but our hero literally crushes his head with his cyborg grip.
Paco takes down a helicopter and stops Saxon, who has a giant gun, before cops surround the building ala the Rambo: First Blood. Thinking Linda is dead, Paco has gone crazy, but she survives and is able to talk him into surrendering.
Then, we are gifted with this closing image:
Directed by Sergio Martino (The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh, All the Colors of the Dark, 2019: After the Fall of New York), this movie sadly shows little of the mastery of the form he showed in his giallo work.
Even worse, there’s a tragedy that happened during the filming, as Claudio Cassinelli (Warriors of the Year 2072, Murder Rock) was killed when the helicopter he was in crashed. The rotor blades struck the underside of the bridge and broke off, sending the helicopter into a canyon, where Cassinelli and the pilot died. It wasn’t Martino’s fault, as the National Transportation Safety Board reported that there were prescription drugs in the pilot’s hotel room that would have impaired his judgment. Because John Saxon was a stickler for Screen Actors Guild rules, he shot all of his scenes in Italy and refused to appear in any of the non-union American shot footage. He believes that the SAG saved his life, as otherwise, he would have been on that helicopter.
At least there’s a score by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin to liven things up.
Hands of Stone is a kind of movie we don’t get much of any longer — a movie that found life on the video shelves, a cyborg movie we could rent when Terminator was out of stock. If there’s one compliment I can give this film, the art that sells it is awesome. You can watch it on Amazon Prime and buy it at Diabolik DVD.