Monday, July 28, 2014


Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

One of the things about having a limited income is that you tend to look for free things.  There’s nothing wrong with getting a book from the library if you can’t afford to pay the $20 to buy it new.  Likewise, if you can find an interesting movie on demand for free or on a cable channel that you’re already paying for, you might as well watch it.  I had heard of Cyborg a long time ago.  I knew that it starred Jean-Claude Van Damme and that involved a cyborg, but that was about it.  When it came on one of the Encore channels, I decided to record it for later watching.

The movie takes place an unspecified amount of time in the future.  Humanity has been all but wiped out by a plague called the Living Death or Walking Death or something.  A man and a woman are sent to New York City from Atlanta to retrieve a cure for the plague.  Shortly after retrieving the data, they’re surrounded by a gang.  She manages to escape.  He’s not so lucky, though.

Enter Jean-Claude Van Damme as Gibson Rickenbacker, who’s basically a gun for hire.  (They’re called slingers.)  He comes across the woman, one Pearl Prophet.  Turns out that she’s the titular cyborg.  She’s been enhanced, although it looks like she’s just a robot.  She’s captured by the gang, who manage to get away from Rickenbacker.  The gang’s leader, Fender Tremulo, wants the cure for himself.  He kind of likes the world the way it is and wouldn’t mind the power he’d get from controlling the cure.

So, off they head to Atlanta.  Rickenbacker meets up with another woman, Nady, who wants to save Pearl and, by extension, the rest of humanity.  Rickenbacker just wants to see Fender dead.  So, off they head to Atlanta, hoping to catch up with Pearl and Fender.  Several fight scenes ensue with Fender and his gang almost all killed.  The threat is eliminated and the day is saved.  Rickenbacker heads back out to help anyone he can.

If you’re not in to fight movies, this one doesn’t offer too much.  Even if you are into fight movies, this movie may not offer too much.  There’s almost no plot except as a backdrop for all the fights.  Most post-apocalyptic movies have some background, however brief, about the decline of humanity.  Here, all we get is how there’s a virus and how the lead bad guy likes it that way.

Also, Rickenbacker and Nady are able to catch up with Fender, even though Fender is on a boat and Rickenbacker is on foot.  Plus, Rickenbacker has to fight some bad guys, further delaying him.  I found it very odd that they were able to get what appears to be an eight- to twelve-hour lead.  Granted, the boat was slow, but I’d think that it would still have an advantage over two people that are walking and not necessarily in a straight line.

The special effects look so bad that I was left wondering if they looked bad even by 1989 standards.  There are a few instances where the use of a green screen was obvious.  In the final fight scene, it looked like Fender was standing, even though he was hanging from a meat hook.  (He should have been slacking.)  It may just be that the film quality has degraded in 20 years, but the movie quality doesn’t look so good.

The movie is marginal at best.  Nothing is really great or horrible.  The writing was among the worst that I’ve seen.  There were parts that were confusing, such as flashbacks explaining Rickenbacker’s past.  We get that Fender tormented Rickenbacker’s loved ones, but it wasn’t immediately clear who survived and who didn’t.  All we get is that Fender is a homicidal pervert who likes to torment people.  You may also notice that many of the names come from guitars.  (Fender and Gibson were the most obvious to me.)

Van Damme was the only actor that I recognized and he’s known more for his fighting than acting.  This was especially evident in this movie.  He looked like he was told to tone it down so many times that he was practically trying to sleepwalk through many of the non-fight scenes.  Fender, on the other hand, is just so darned hyper that he’s about to explode at times.

The movie could have been more interesting if there was more background and information.  Why did Pearl have to go all the way to New York City to retrieve the data?  I would think that something that important would be stored closer to the CDC in Atlanta.  Also, why did she have to be turned into a cyborg?  Even in 1989, we had some concept of portable media.  If it were me,  I would have kept the data very close and in multiple locations if possible. I’d have sent as many teams as I could to get the data from wherever it was so as to avoid everyone being captured.

On that note, why did Fender have to take Pearl all the way back to Atlanta?  I can see that Atlanta would have the production facilities to make and distribute the cure, but you can’t tell me that there was no way for him to at least retrieve the data between NYC and Atlanta, then transmit it back.  The writers could have at least given Fender someone technologically proficient enough to give a weak reason why.  (“Looks like they have a security encryption.  We’ll have to go to Atlanta to get the code.”)

This is one of those movies that if they were playing it while you were waiting for jury duty, you’d probably wish you had brought a book.   I can’t quite bring myself to not recommend it, but I’m going to have to say no just because it’s not really good enough to seek out.  If it comes on TV and there’s nothing else, give it a try.  Otherwise, don’t bother.

No comments :