Cyborg (1989)

As is the case with most of these post-apocalyptic cheapies from the 1980s that feature guys and gals dressed up like they were trying out for KISS’s “Lick It Up” video, the reason we’ve been transported to this potential future is so we can follow our hero on one of those dopey escort missions.

Once the world ends, escort missions are pretty much the only form of employment a good guy can get. It usually involves our boy having to get some chick (most likely the last hope for some type of vague salvation that isn’t ever really followed up on) to some place for some reason. This requires running a gauntlet of bad guys through various rubble strewn sets, abandoned warehouses, and sewers.

Jean-Claude Van Damme gets himself mixed up in an escort mission when he helps out a gal who finds herself attacked by a bunch of Pirates led by the evil Fender.

Fender is a jacked up bald dude with bad teeth and white eyes. He’s a fan of the plague that’s running rampant across the world and when he finds out that this girl is trying to get to Atlanta to give some scientists some data that can stop the plague, he decides that he’s always wanted to see Atlanta and kidnaps her, leaving V.D. knocked out in an alley.

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The kidnapped girl is a cyborg named Pearl and we learn in flashbacks (the movie is rife with flashbacks and sometimes the flashbacks even get repeated!) that she volunteered to give up her humanity so that she could be transformed into a cyborg capable of carrying the data that the scientists in Atlanta need. I’ve got three words for these so-called scientists: removable hard drive. (But then we wouldn’t have those embarrassing effects of the cyborg’s eye telescoping out of its head then, would we?)

After Pearl gets taken prisoner by Fender, V.D. gets some help from another gal named Nady. Nady thinks that V.D. ought to go after Fender and save Pearl because it’s the right thing to do. V.D. is a brooding, haunted sort who is prone to staring sullenly into space while director Albert Pyun (Bloodmatch, Heatseeker) vainly attempts to add depth to things by showing us V.D.’s tragic past.

While the flashbacks involving Pearl the Cyborg are few and dole out only the most rudimentary of information needed to set up the backstory driving this movie, V.D.’s flashbacks are frequent, boring, and filled with dialogue delivered by his then girlfriend like she was in some sort of numbed stupor.

As we learn over and over and over in these flashbacks, V.D. gets hooked up with this woman and her children and decides to live a peaceful life with them. We even get see him put his weapons under a bunch of dirty quilts in an old chest as a sign of how he’s given up his past life – twice!

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Then Fender and his gang appear and tie up V.D., his old lady, and her son with a bunch of barb wire and suspends them over a well. Fender makes the daughter hold onto the barb wire so that if she lets go, V.D. and company go splat down at the bottom of the well!

Guess who’s the only one that climbs out of the well all oiled up and shirtless; hairless pecs glistening in the sun while he rages against the injustice of it all? So even though V.D. isn’t much for doing anything for anyone else, he’s got a reason to go after Fender, though he predictably doesn’t want Nady tagging along with him.

There isn’t much more to the movie than a series of scenes where V.D. goes after Fender, finds Fender’s gang, fights them in periodic slow motion, and escapes without the cyborg. Rinse. Repeat.

V.D. even manages to get himself captured and crucified for his troubles half way through things! Watching his struggle on the cross while drawing strength from his flashbacks really left an impact on me and I find myself looking at my WWJCVDD bracelet for guidance whenever I’m confronted by some question of morality. Usually, I find that the answer alternates between throwing a roundhouse kick or punching a guy in the crotch.

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Things are wrapped up as you expect with a big kick fight between Fender and V.D. Fender does play a little dirty pool by repeatedly slamming a car door on V.D.’s head, but that’s pretty much like flipping V.D.’s switch because it doesn’t take long for V.D. to kick through a car window to get to Fender, set a guy a fire somehow in the driving rain, and to stab Fender a couple of times before the film hits the eighty minute mark and calls it quits.

Cyborg is a pretty painless little bomb that you’ll get a few laughs out of, what with its haunted hero cliches and Pyun’s bizarre fixation on the film tricks he think he cribbed from Once Upon A Time In The West.

You also get quite a bit of guys just standing around posing dramatically, as well as that interminable scene on the cross. V.D. doesn’t add much of anything to the movie and anyone who had been hitting the weight bench could have played his role.

With virtually no cyborg-related stuff going on, you’re left with some less than expertly shot fight scenes you could probably get in any number of kickboxer movies from the era.

© 2013 MonsterHunter

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