Words By Critical
Anarchy, Genocide & Jump Kicks…. that’s right, we’re reviewing “Cyborg”!.. No, it’s not another Justice League spin-off (I know, Jesus Christ… they seem to be dropping comicbook movies like mixtapes back in 2004). It’s the 1989 cataclysmic sci-fi action flick directed by Albert Pyun and written by Daniel Hubbard-Smith & Kitty Chalmers (which is actually Pyun using his fuckin’ pet cat’s name as a writing credit).
Pyun who is also known for a couple of the Kickboxer sequels & Dollman he usually has reoccurring themes in his films dealing with sci-fi fantasy, apocalypse & cyborgs even though he has openly stated that he has no deep interest in either topic but they are some of the most affordable types of films that can easily be made on a small buget.
He has also went on to make Cyborg a trilogy with “Knights” in 1993 starring Kris Kristofferson & “Omega Doom” in 1996 starring Rutger Hauer which are the official sequels even though most people consider Cyborg 2 (starring then new comer Angelina Jolie) & Cyborg 3 to be direct sequels for obvious reasons even though those movies are practically unrelated except for the fact that Cyborg 2 had a dream sequence using footage from the original Cyborg movie which might confuse weird people that give a shit such as myself and since Cyborg 3 is a continuation of Cyborg 2, you can see where it gets confusing but it only gets more confusing considering that the extended director’s cut for “Cyborg” is also known as “Slinger” (short for “Gunslinger”, warrior for hire) & also titled “Cyborg 009” in the UK and was actually intended to be a sequel for the first MOTU movie called “Masters of the Universe: Cyborg” which never made it to fruition do to financial troubles at Cannon films which lead to them losing deals on that film along with a Spiderman movie.
Desperately looking for a way to recoup the 2 million dollars spent on unused sets & costumes, Pyun conjured up “Cyborg” derived from the combination of 2 previous scripts that he threw together over the course of a weekend. It was made on a $500,000 budget in less than a month bringing in $3,179,811 on it’s opening weekend at the box office (yeah, I was one of those people that actually saw it in theaters… my oldest brother took me to see it when I was a youngsta and there was a giant blue cock spraypainted on the movie screen which wasn’t out the norm in a pregentrafied New York City back then. I still enjoyed the movie though… Now that doesn’t mean that I like big blue cocks or any variation of penis… let’s get the straight!).
This masterpiece starts off with a dreary, decrepit image of a partially decimated New York City while a hair-raising naration from one of the main characters (which was actually the inspiration for the intro of Method Man’s 2nd solo album, “Tical 2000: Judgement Day”) describes the ruination and downfall of civilization leading up to “the plague” but also eludes to the possibility of scientists working on a cure for the contamination & decay that’s slowly disolving what is left of mankind. We then bulldoze into the next scene where the Cyborg, Pearl (played by Dayle Haddon) & her scatter brain protector are being hunted down by what appears to be a bootleg Brian Bosworth with a dirty mullet along with a few other doomsday goons that look like they’re part of a roided-up Twisted Sister tribute band. The protector quickly falls apart under pressure and loses his head while Pearl tries to make an escape but suddenly gets cornered by pscycho henchmen in a nearby alley until being rescued by the swift moves of Gibson Rickenbacker (played by Jean Claude Van Damme).
When asked why he just murdered like 3 people to rescue her, he just replies… “I thought you were someone else” lol! She then immediately trusts dude after 10 seconds of meeting him (which never happens to me no matter how long I know a chic) while revealing that she is a Cyborg on a mission to collect data for scientists in Atlanta seconds before getting ambushed by Fender (played by Vincent Klyn who is known for his role in “Point Break” and also a well known surfer despite claiming to hate swimming in this film). Once Gibson is temporarily out of the picture, they kidnap Pearl and massacre a small village dressed in Kanye West gear to steal a small boat that somehow can fit about 20 WFF allstar rejects in it as Fender drops a slick little “Blade Runner” reference.
By now ya boy Van Damme has resurrected from the wreckage, kinda just camping out when he spots an intruder trying to creep up on him but he’s not going for it this time. Luckily it’s just a young female drifter with a nice ass named Nady (played by Deborah Richter). Gibson knocks her unconscious and then preoceeds to have repeated flashbacks of his former life on some Little House on the Prarie type shit. Nady wakes up and they become aquanted. She knows about Pearl being kidnapped by Fender & his pirates and is persistent on convincing Gibson to rescue the Cyborg in order to help find a cure for the plague… Alright, hold on, hold on… Timeout!…
I started off with the desire to write this review with the intent of breaking down the storyline play by play but to be quite honest… there isn’t much of a plot.
I think what originally attractived me to this movie (aside from the nostalgia factor) is it’s simplicity, low budget esthetic & the melodramatic dry synth of the score. Maybe it’s also the indie film maker in me that also loves the struggle story on how this film was materialized. I mean it was one of the last movies produced by Cannon films right before they eventually went bancrupt (See the Electric Boogaloo documentary). Even the way that they cast Van Damme was crazy. Apparently the legendary “Muscles from Brussels” waited in Cannon’s lobby until Menahem Golan came out his office and demonstrated a flying jumpkick a few inches away from Golan’s face which ultimately lead up to him getting a lead role. They originally had ya boy Chuck Norris in mind to play Gibson but Van Damme chose it over American Ninja pt.3 or some shit like that. Van Damme’s fighting abilities may have helped him land a lead role but it also costed him more than he got paid to star in the film after getting sued for around $480,000 for causing actor Jackson “Rock” Pinckney to lose an eye in one of the fighting scenes which actually made it to the final cut of the movie!
Speaking of fighting, let me get back to where I trailed off. Gibson & Nady are now on a “Quest” to rescue Pearl leading them through the rancid Wasteland where they encounter a group of radioactive thugs in gas masks & mesh facial garments (really impressive costumes btw… they looked as if they could be down with a degenerate Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe) who try to suprise attack the two but Gibson unsleashes the Van Dammage on them with the help of some martial arts, guns and retractable boot blades which left Nady’s tattered panties wet. (check out our Top Ten movie finishers video below to see one of these knuckle heads get disposed in one of the best deaths in the whole movie!)
Anyway… while tracking down Fender & his squad, they end up getting confronted by them while Gibson briefly recognizes a familiar young face from his past now rolling with Fender but Gibson isn’t able to pick off all of these maniacal pirates alone and has to flee carrying a wounded Nady through a sewer drain after climbing down a manhole. A standoff ensues and both are defeated. They crucify Gibson and leave but they made one fatal mistake… you never under any circumstances give Van Damme time to reflect on an old memory in a movie!.. it gives him super powers.. history has proven this!
Van Damme’s angry flashback fueled karate kicks end up breaking the crucifix and sends him crashing onto the ground. Nady helps him up and now it’s personal. They finally locate Fender somewhere on the mean streets of Eternia taking them by storm for a final showdown to rescue Pearl and settle the score!
This Apocalyptic guilty pleasure definitely had the potential to be way more (maybe even up there with the likes of Mad Max & Terminator) and I believe that they intended it to be considering that most of the villains all had unutilized names on the credits to this film. It’s one of those movies that if they were to do a remake… I wouldn’t be mad but then again, “Why bother?” those words happen to be the saddest two words in the English language right now according to actress Dayle Haddon. I wonder if that’s what helped her relate to playing Pearl’s character in the film who sincerely wanted to restore humanity in that grim, apathetic fading existence!
Words by Wayne Wilkins AKA Critical – Florida. USA