Science fiction and fantasy                                            



Cyborg

directed by Albert Pyun

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Van Damme's Pecs would have been a better title for this movie, because they seem to get far more screen time than the cyborg it's named after. The story is set in a blasted post-apocalyptic future, when civilisation has broken down and a plague is ravaging the population. Pearl Prophet (Dayle Haddon) is the cyborg who carries information about a cure for this disease. Before she can transport it safely to Atlanta she's intercepted by a gang known as the Flesh Pirates.

The leader of this group is Fender (Vincent Klyn), a muscular and sadistic thug with shiny chain mail to match his shiny eyes. He says things like "I like misery... I like this world". Clearly he's not much given to sensitivity, or nuance.

Gibson Rickenbacker (Jean-Claude Van Damme) runs into Pearl Prophet, who is clearly in trouble. But he's not so keen to go out of his way, when he has his own survival to consider. But Gibson picks up a stray after the Pirates burn one of the settlements they pass through. They leave a trail of destruction in their wake wherever they go. Nady (Deborah Richter) tries to persuade Gibson to help the cyborg, but Gibson has a score to settle and his own agenda.

There are plenty of flashbacks to events in Gibson's past, when he enjoyed some happier times in a sort of countryside idyll.

Cyborg has the kind of plot that might have been recycled from the common features of a dozen other post-apocalyptic B-movies. Not to mention the fact that all the character list reads like the inventory of a musical instrument store. However, it's not long before we get to the main point of this movie, which is the scrapping.

Soon enough the bad guys pile in, seemingly with no sense for their own safety and none of the co-ordination or cunning that's required to work as a team. It's not as though they don't have guns in this story, but they always seem to lose them fairly quickly and people end up duking it out with fists or knives.

Van Damme looks better than all the other effects in this film, although that's not actually the highest praise. The effects are somewhat dire, even for 1989. The cyborg model looks unconvincing, but it's not actually a large part of the story. In fact, there's no good reason to have the cyborg at all: Pearl Prophet could easily have been written out in favour of a human carrying a data disc, without changing the sense of the movie.

Everything is set up to make Van Damme look as good as possible, and to include the maximum amount of brawling. Fender leaves him to live when he could easily destroy him, and he makes the worst possible use of his gang of heavies. Vincent Klyn over-acts hopelessly, grunting and spouting lines that an intellectually impaired gorilla would be ashamed of, in a voice that's deep and more gravelly than a quarry.

This is a cheap and trashy movie which goes overboard with the martial arts. The dialogue is sparse and often painfully bad. It's a short film, but even so it's padded out with repetitive flashbacks. With wooden acting, a predictable plot and an uninspiring score, about the only thing that redeems Cyborg is the fight choreography, although even that becomes tedious after a while. This movie is strictly for martial arts and Van Damme obsessives only.

Film Details

Decade: 1980s

Categories: Films

  Science fiction

Classification: 18

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1 star rating

Review © Ros Jackson