Cyborg (1989)

Cyborg (1989)

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"My special power is growling. That's it."
“My special power is growling. That’s it.”

Twitter Plot Summary: Van Damme is an action man protecting a cyborg who has information that could save humanity.

When a film is created from the ashes of two other, potentially better projects, the result is always likely to be something disappointing. Lo and behold, such is the case with Cyborg. Much of the costumes and production cost had previously been spent on what was originally intended to be a sequel to 1987’s He-Man movie, Masters of the Universe and, bizarrely, a Spider-Man movie. All of this was financed by Cannon Films, so those in the know will be aware that this company were notorious for their terrible films. There are a few documentaries flying around about them at the moment, but try and catch Electric Boogaloo if you have the chance. There are some decent efforts lost in the quagmire of awfulness that was their output.

Jean-Claude Van Damme gets top billing as a man tortured by his past – or, more importantly, tortured by the attack on his family many years ago by a bad guy who has funky eyes. It’s worth pointing out that his character’s name is Gibson Rickenbacker – clearly a creation of someone who likes guitars. Many years after these events he encounters a cyborg called Pearl (Dayle Haddon) who holds within her memory a cure for the plague that has decimated humanity. Unfortunately she’s stalked by a group of pirates who look like Mad Max rejects. Step up Mr Van Damme and his funky martial arts expertise.

Every element of the production looks typical for a Cannon picture. Cliches abound and, whilst the HD transfer looks pretty decent and clearly a fair amount of money was spent on the costumes and sets (for those other planned productions of course), there is still a very strong whiff of cheapness to everything else. It gives the impression that everything was done in a hurry, without much thought or pre-planning, and they basically just winged it at every turn. I’m fairly certain that was actually the case.

This might be a Christ allegory. I'm not sure. (Sarcasm mode enabled)
This might be a Christ allegory. I’m not sure. (Sarcasm mode enabled)

The bad guy, Fender (Vincent Klyn), another guitar based name I might add, is clad in chainmail for most of the story, then foolishly removes it for his final showdown with Gibson. Even Bennett in Commando never removed his chainmail vest, and he still ended up losing as a result of a nasty steam pipe chest injury. Here, Fender removes his vest and spends the next ten minutes growling a bit. Hardly a classic fight to the death, not even by 80s action movie standards.

Van Damme is the only notable name here, but he was still a relatively unknown quantity at the time of release. By his standards his performance isn’t great, so that should tell you all you need to know. The supporting cast aren’t much better.

What Cyborg can offer is a few half decent action sequences, even if they feel rushed and may have resulted in one of the actors being blinded. Whilst this was an unfortunate incident, it’s more of a shame that it didn’t happen during the filming of a more worthwhile production.

Score: 2/5

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