Title: Cyborg (1989)
Director: Albert Pyun
Cast: Jean Claude Van Damme,
Sometimes films get made for the strangest of reasons. Take for example the film I’ll be reviewing today: Albert Pyun’s Cyborg. Now here is a film that would never have gotten made had a special sequence of events not occurred. What this films story ultimately ties into is the death of a production company that proliferated during the 80’s called Cannon Films. You know them, they were the guys who brought us films like the Deathwish sequels, The Delta Force (1986), Invasion U.S.A. (1985), King Solomons Mines (1985), Cobra (1986), American Ninja (1985) and even Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce (1985). Let’s not forget they also gave us the masterpiece that is Breakin’2: Electric Boogaloo (1984). A pretty cheesy slate of films no doubt, but that’s what Cannon Films were all about, producing scripts that no body else wanted to produce. They focused on making b-films on a low budget so they could make a profit out of them, and they did for a while. But after a string of highs and lows, the studio started confronting financial troubles. Two straight flops brought the studio to its deathbed: Masters of the Universe (1987) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). A lot was riding on the success of Masters of the Universe, so when it didn’t make as much money as they expected, it left Cannon Films almost completely dead. But they still had one bullet in the chamber; from a proven franchise, which just might make money and save the studio. That film was Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, which ended up being another gargantuan failure for Cannon Films. But was the studio ready to die yet? Nope! That’s how Cyborg was born.
Cyborg came to be because Cannon had already spent 2 million dollars building sets and costumes for Masters of the Universe 2 and their proposed Spider Man film, both of which were to be directed shot simultaneously by Pyun if you can believe it! Thankfully, both of these projects never came to be. And I say thankfully because one look at Pyun’s Captain American (1990) film will let you know just how disastrous a Spider Man by Pyun could have been. So anyways, in order to not let those 2 million dollars they had already spent go to waste, Cannon films had Pyun write Cyborg over the course of a weekend. Seriously! Then they shot the film in 24 days and for less than 500,000 dollars! So it was this strange chain of events that got Cyborg made. And hey, I gotta say that a pretty entertaining film came out of that ordeal. I mean, Cyborg isn’t the greatest film ever made I’ll give you that. It’s a very simple film with lots of characters screaming and grunting and kicking the hell out of each other. But credit goes to Pyun for making chicken salad out of chicken shit. I mean, it proves that a filmmaker doesn’t really need much in order to make a film. Give him a couple hundred thousand bucks and willing actors and he’ll go out there and have some fun making a movie, which is what Pyun did here.
The film feels like a mix between Mad Max and Conan, both of which are revenge films, which makes Cyborg a bonafide revenge film as well. Story goes something like this. A plague is killing the human race. Only a few humans have survived amongst the rubble of a post apocalyptic landscape. Humans have reverted back to animalistic survival mode. This means that it’s literally a dog eat dog world out there, you stumble upon the wrong crowd in this post apocalyptic future and you are likely to get tortured, killed or raped. Meanwhile, a group of scientists from
So that’s basically as far as the plot goes. Get the cyborg to its destination; protect it, save the world from the plague. So it’s one of these movies where characters are on a journey across a vast land filled with many dangers. One of the dangers of this post apocalyptic world are the crazies that roam the land. The gang of bad guys that inhabit this film like living amongst the chaos because there are no rules, nobody tells them what to do, and they can intimidate and kill their way through any situation. They reminded me a lot of the type of gangs that could be seen in George Miller’s Mad Max (1979) where we have a bunch of real nasty looking bad guys who have nothing better to do than destroy everything in their path. The more you watch this movie, the more it will fill like a Mad Max rip off, only without the cool cars and car chases. On this world things are so messed up that there are no cars! People go everywhere on foot! But seriously folks, the same exact reasons that motivated Mad Max Rockatansky in his film motivate Gibson, Van Damme’s character in Cyborg. This film was influenced by others. For example, at one point, Gibson get’s sent to the “tree of woe”, the same tree where they put Conan so he could contemplate on his mistakes in Conan The Barbarian (1982). Same as Conan, Gibson titters on the brink of death while hanging, crucified like Jesus. So yeah, Van Damme in this movie is a mix between Conan and Mad Max.
One things for sure about Cyborg, there’s a lot of fighting in this movie! People run from each other, then stumble with each other along the way, fight, then run, stumble and fight some more. Ad nauseum. There was so much fighting in this movie that in one scene Van Damme actually injured a stunt doubles eye! The stunt double sued and got 485,000 dollars for his eye. This means that the stunt double’s eye cost more or less the films whole budget! There was so much fighting on this film that some of the violence had to be cut back in order for the film to get an ‘R’ rating instead of an ‘X’. Don’t know how many of you guys can see the difference between modern fighting in movies and old school fights, but the fighting in some of the older movies was so lame. Sometimes in comparison, it feels like they weren’t even trying in some of these older films. On Cyborg what we get is a lot of dudes posing to look like tough hombres. The main bad guy, played by Vincent Klyn is always walking around with his muscles all tight. You get the idea that he was thinking “Must…keep…muscles tight! Gotta…look tougher….than Van Damme!” It’s kind of hilarious to see him walk that way.
The film feels like it was shot with one story in mind and later fixed in the editing room with dubbing. But don’t mistake this for a film that gives dialog any importance, this is first and foremost an action film, and its emphasis is on the action, the fights. In fact, Pyun himself originally envisioned the film in black and white with lots of action and visuals, with no dialog. This no dialog idea, held true for most of the film. Long patches of this movie go on without a word being said. Then when dialog is spoken, you wish they’d never spoken it. The dialog is pretty cheesy, but I guess it’s something to be expected from a script that was written over the course of a single weekend. Also, let’s face it, bad dialog is what makes watching a movie like this one fun. Bottom line with this movie is that, it’s fun to watch because it’s so damn cheesy. The dialog is so bad, specially when spoken by Van Damme who hardly speaks through out the movie because he couldn’t speak English very well. One seen has him say “I don’t want to see die”. Its funny because he leaves out the “you” and sounds like a complete buffoon while saying it.
Hey, at least Cannon Films went out with a winner because even though this was the last film they made before going bankrupt, the movie made a profit. It only cost 500,000 (including Van Damme’s salary if you can believe it!) and yet went on to make over 10 million at the box office. This was one of those films that let
Rating: 2 ½ out of 5