Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cyborg (1989)

Seen: On dvd on our projector set-up, recently purchased as part of a Van Damme 3-pack, a gift to myself. I deserve it.

By now you're probably well aware that all I really want in life is to watch Jean-Claude Van Damme high kick things and mumble in his cute high-pitched Belgian accent. Adorable. So obviously I was pretty psyched for Cyborg, which pairs Van Damme with my favorite thing: a post-apocalyptic future. This one's got a deadly plague and an East Coast run wild with overgrown plant life. Also: asshole pirates. Or something. Van Damme plays Gibson Rickenbacker (what?), a badass motherfucker who is after revenge for his family's brutal murder at the hands of Fender (Vincent Klyn), a bigger badass motherfucker. There's also a pretty cyborg lady (Dayle Haddon) with a cure for the plague who needs his help, but that's not really integral to the plot. The title is definitely misleading.

Dredged up from the mind of Albert Pyun (whom, you may recall, brought us ARCADE), Cyborg is in league with various other poorly-plotted, nonsensical dystopian movies of the 80s and 90s. This is a genre I love, clearly, and Van Damme's high-kicking ridiculousness fits right in. It's got the grungy, hodge-podge aesthetic to make it recognizably post-apocalyptic, and some truly cool, crumbling sets. The story doesn't make ANY sense, really, and at any given time I wasn't quite sure what was going on or who anyone was (not an unusual experience for me, though). There are a lot of dopey flashbacks that re-use the same five minutes of footage. If they were that strapped for padding, couldn't they have added more fight scenes? Because I gotta say, there are not enough fight scenes in this movie. Any time Van Damme wasn't kicking someone's ass I was kind of bored.

BUT OF COURSE the movie has its merits: Van Damme's absolutely terrible wig in the flashbacks, the supreme badassery of villain Fender, the weird future-guns, the crazy-long chase scene through sewers and meadowlands, a surprisingly gruesome crucifixion, and a weird PLOT TWIST. And when the fight scenes do happen they're pretty great, especially since Fender is a legitimately formidable villain (and HUGE) so there's more at stake. I wasn't a huge fan of the Annoying Lady Sidekick (every Van Damme movie's got one, as far as I can tell) played by Deborah Richter, but at least she got to be useful once or twice and he wasn't constantly saving her.

Cyborg is fun at times and laughably bad at others, but a good chunk of it is sort of dull, and it's sad when an 86 minute movie drags in pacing. I wanted it to be SO AWESOME so I guess part of my disappointment is my own fault- I got my expectations too high! But I will never give up on Van Damme, I've got two more amazing (I hope) films in that 3 pack to check out, plus the billion others he's made that I haven't seen.

As a movie: 2.5/5
As entertainment: 3.5/5

Pair This Movie With: The overall feel reminded me a bit of Johnny Mnemonic. Coincidentally that's also the first result you get when you search for "Cyborg" on imdb. So: destiny.