Cyborg (Arrow Recommends)

Cyborg (Arrow Recommends)
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"Arrow Recommends is a column that has my sorry ass advise older movies to your royal asses. I will be flexible in terms of genres i.e. I will cover whatever the bleep I want. For now, it will be the way to keep my voice on the site."

PLOT: The world has been hit by a plague and has gone to shit. It's up to mercenary Gibson (Jean-Claude Van Damme) to escort a Cyborg dame (Dayle Haddon) with the cure for said plague on her through the wasteland. Alas, a group of pesky pirates get in the way as they want the cure for themselves. Nothing the splits or a barrage of spin kicks can't solve.

"I like the death! I like the misery! I like this world!” " – Fender

LOWDOWN: CYBORG has an interesting production history behind it. Cannon was gonna produce a sequel to Masters of the Universe and a Spider Man film at the same time. Surfer Laird Hamilton was gonna be the lead in both and Albert Pyun was gonna helm the two films at the same time. They spent about 2 million clams on both productions in terms of sets and costumes and then Cannon ran out of dough and couldn't move forward with their plan. So in the name of not wasting the coin they had pumped in, they had Pyun write a script over the course of a weekend around what they had and Slinger (then renamed Cyborg) was born.

Pyun wanted Chuck Norris to be the lead, but Cannon wanted Van Damme so he was cast. Once done with post-production, Pyun’s cut was shown and had an awful test screening. So Van Damme came in the edit and re-cut the picture and that version is the one that was widely released. Pyun released his director cut on disk. I haven’t seen it but I hear it’s severely different than the theatrical, more of a brooding film and less action driven - not sure that grabs me enough to ever give it a shot. We'll see...

 CYBORG is a film that I grew up with but that I hadn’t seen in a while. Being that Scream Factory is releasing a re-issue of the film (with a beautiful transfer), it was with nostalgia fueled glee that I tackled it again to see if I can still recommend it today. And yup! For lovers of cheapo action, you bet I can! Here are random reasons why Cyborg is worth a take down:

-The simpleton story! Good guys have to get from point A to Z. Bad guys are in the way. Good guy has a shady past with main bad guy. That’s it and that’s all we need to make way for an orgy of action in between the "meat".

-The action! Although cut a little too tight in places for my liking, hence not showing off Van Damme’s skills as much as they should have, the action scenes here were testosterone charged and relentless! I’m talking raw, very brutal, inventive and mucho entertaining. The set piece in the abandoned factory had to be my fav!

-The score! There are maybe two or three synth compositions (by Lalo Schifrin and Kevin Bassinson) that are reused over and over again in this film. That score so stayed with me over the years. I hum it in my head all the time while approaching a punching bag, or about to bench press. The score is totally different int the D. Cut, so not sure how that one measures up. But the one here is aces!

-The brutality! I heard that the film's violence was trimmed down to get an R, but there's still some pretty nasty stuff here with the flashback having to do with Van Damme's family probably being the cruelest. Damn!

-Van Damme's token "splits" shot! Early on JCVD would do the splits in all of his films. The way they went about it here was cool as f*ck!

 -That one STUPID idea. One thing popped in my noggin on this watch that I couldn’t get around. They turned this woman into a cyborg in order to upload the cure for the plague into circuits and for her to bring it to the good guys. If they have the technology to do that, ummm, why not put the cure on a pen drive? Or even a hard drive? Turning a chick into a robot just for that was a bit much no? Is it me man???!!!

-The dialogue! Lots of bad yet funny exchanges in this film but we also got treated with some cool lines , mostly from Vincent Klyn’s character of Fender. Gems like this exchange: Man: “The last scientists were working on a cure that would end the plague and restore the world. Fender: Restore it? Why? I like the death! I like the misery! I like this world!” Or Man: Go to hell! “ - Fender punches dude - Fender: Been there. Love that shit!

-The dime store visuals effects!  Loved that mannequin tossed down a building and the cruddy matte paintings. But the Cyborg reveal was definitely the highlight in that department! Hardly looked like the actress – gold!

-The bad guys all looked like heavy metal loving body builders (even the gals) and yes that was Ralf Moeller (TV's Conan) under that ugly ass wig (The film was filled to the brim with those too btw - so if you have a wig fetish... enjoy!).

-Vincent Klyn’s performance! The man obviously had a blast playing the heavy and he chewed that scenery like nobody’s beeyatch. His constant yelling with mouth agape during the film’s final fight had me in stitches. If it makes me laugh – it can’t be all that bad! ARRRRRG! ARRRRRG! ARRRRRG! LMAO!

-Pyun’s style! The mix of Post Apocalyptic, rock and roll (Pyun initially wanted the film to be a BnW rock opera) and Spaghetti Western vibes made for a delicious flavor. And visually Pyun’s often on the move camera and his potent use of slow motion resulted in a kinetic and enthralling sit down.

So there you have it! Cyborg went on to make 10 million beans at the box office and gathered quite the cult following on home video, DVD and TV over the years. Not bad for a flick that was basically a quick fix for two failed features. If you’re in the mood for a healthy slice of low budget Post Apocalyptic mayhem – Cyborg is a must see! You’ll have a blast with it and also at its expense. Win/win!



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