Top positive review
25 people found this helpful
One of Pyun's best
on June 4, 2004
I hope you will forgive me when I tell you I have a crushing headache as I write this review. Why? Because I devoted several hours of this sunny day thinking about not one, but two, of Albert Pyun's films. Pondering the importance of "Ticker" and "Cyborg" to the cinematic world wore me out in ways I would not think possible. Pyun, if you are not familiar with his oeuvre, constructed his B movie credentials by releasing such classics as "The Sword and The Sorcerer," "Nemesis," "Mean Guns," and "Postmortem." He's a hack's hack in the hack world of zero budget schlock. Not to pound you over the head with it, but watching a Pyun film often resembles in no little way craning your head out the window to see that car accident on the freeway. Initially, you are intrigued by what you might see only to realize later how low you feel as a human being for looking at scenes of abject horror. Ok, I am exaggerating slightly. "Cyborg," the 1989 film that launched the dubious career of Jean-Claude Van Damme, is one of Pyun's better efforts. In fact, it is one of the few movies in his canon I can watch on a regular basis and not feel too badly about it the next day.
Here's another film dealing with life in a post-apocalyptic world. Gibson Rickenbacker (Van Damme) arises from the ruins to play the part of a Good Samaritan. He tries to help survivors of a plague flee from the ruined cities to the countryside, hopefully so they can reconstruct some semblance of a normal life. Rickenbacker, as the hero, of course has an unpleasant memory of one of his missions. He tried to save a family and ended up falling in love with a woman. You don't need me to spell out what happened next. Ever since this unfortunate incident, Gibson struggles with what he should do next. When he runs into a woman named Pearl Prophet (Dale Haddon), a cyborg attempting to carry a cure for the plague back to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, he must decide whether to resume the role of hero. Why not take part in helping Pearl carry the antidote? This mission could turn Rickenbacker into the savior of the world. Unfortunately for Rickenbacker and Pearl, Fender Tremolo (Vincent Klyn), a scary looking dude with weird eyes and a mechanical voice, and his gang of like-minded cyborgs have their own ideas. They think if they can capture Pearl and get her to Atlanta, they will control the future of the world.
When Prophet falls into the hands of Tremolo's gang, Rickenbacker decides to get her back. With the help of a mouthy young lady he picks up along the way named Nady Simmons (Deborah Richter), Gibson lurches from one violent confrontation to another. Thugs fall to the ground like leaves as the two pursue Tremolo with malevolent intent. Numerous showdowns in burnt out and broken down buildings provide Pyun and Van Damme with plenty of opportunities to showcase martial arts madness. Kicks, punches, and blunt and sharp instruments-anything you can think of that will cause damage to a human or cyborg body finds a use in this movie. And for the most part Pyun carries off the action well, much better than he has in many of his other movies. You are surprised that you actually root for this guy who speaks English like he just walked off a boat. Before feelings of giddiness carry you away, however, you need to reconcile yourself with a few of the cheesy aspects of the movie. Nearly all of the characters are named after musical instruments, the outfits look like the film crew robbed a New Wave band's wardrobe closet, and the dialogue tends towards the insipid. Still, "Cyborg" entertains as few Pyun films do.
"Cyborg" works largely due to the gritty, blasted urban background that the characters move through. It is here, in the ruins of civilization, where most of the action takes place. Moreover, the picture quality of the film (probably as a result of poor film stock) has a dirty look to it, which actually gives the movie a better, more realistic atmosphere. I even thought Pyun tried to inject a philosophical statement in the film (yeah, right) when we see Rickenbacker staked to that ship's mast. Is Gibson a Christ figure "rising" from the grave to help save the world? Maybe, but I'm probably reading more into "Cyborg" than the director intended. Sure, the acting could be better-lots better-and the fight scenes are a little over the top, but why else would you watch this movie? You don't expect Oscar performances and you don't get them. What you do get is an entertaining way to spend eighty plus minutes (the movie doesn't run for even an hour and a half).
The DVD version is strictly bare bones. If memory serves me correctly, the only extra on this disc was a trailer. Too bad, but a bit surprising considering this is officially a cult classic. It's interesting to note that none other than Cannon, the company that released TONS of low budget action flicks in the 1980s, helped fund this effort. Charles Bronson benefited from Cannon's attentions back then, so why not Van Damme? I recommend "Cyborg" not only to fans of action films, but even to fans of science fiction since the movie takes a stab at incorporating both elements under one umbrella. Is it intelligent cinema? Nope, but who says it needs to be?