Captain Spaulding's Cinematic Gutter

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Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
If there was ever anyone on here that needed to start up a reviews thread it was you Cap so very glad to see this

"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

(Albert Pyun, 1989)

"First there was the collapse of civilization. Anarchy. Genocide. Starvation. Then, when it seemed things couldn't get any worse, we got the plague. The living death. Quickly closing its fist over the entire planet. And then we heard the rumors that the last scientists were working on a cure that would end the plague and restore the world. Restore it? Why? I like the death! I like the misery! I LIKE THIS WORLD!"

So says Fender, the stiff-walking, dreadlock-rocking, chainmail-wearing villain of Cyborg, in his opening voice-over narration of this 80's Van Damme vehicle from Cannon Films that mixes martial-arts with dystopian science-fiction. You'd be forgiven if, like me, you incorrectly assumed that this was a Terminator knock-off with Van Damme trying on the hardwired pecs of Ah-nuld. Instead, the titular cyborg is a woman (Dayle Haddon) carrying crucial information that could potentially lead to a cure for the aforementioned plague. Never mind her, though -- she's just a plot device. A reason to get from Point A to Point B. We're here to watch oiled-up, muscle-bound dudes roundhouse kick each other in the face. And, in that regard, Cyborg mostly delivers.

I'm tempted to give Cyborg a positive rating for two scenes alone. One features perhaps the greatest usage of Van Damme's trademark split, in which a hulking baddie creeps along a darkened sewer alleyway -- water sloshing, rain falling -- as Van Damme, trembling with orgasmic intensity, raises his weapon. The camera zooms out to reveal our hero suspended eight feet above the ground, legs split wide, waiting for the kill. Ominous music swells. Bad Guy stops, slowly looks up, screams. Instant death. The other highlight, in terms of ridiculous awesomeness, tops Van Damme punching out a snake in Hard Target, as Cyborg; or, The Passion of the Damme, boasts an extended sequence of JCVD escaping crucifixion by kicking his way off the cross, thus in comparison making Jesus Christ look like a weak little bitch. If I was still of the Christian persuasion, I would've immediately renounced my faith and accepted the Muscles From Brussels as the one true Messiah.

Unfortunately, the rest of Cyborg doesn't quite stack up to the brilliance of those two scenes. Flashbacks (in which Van Damme sports one of the worst wigs ever) seem to occur every five minutes, constantly interrupting the film's momentum. Action is poorly shot, involving too many cuts and close-ups. The script lacks structure. The score is often intrusive. Van Damme himself is more wooden than usual, delivering his lines as if he doesn't yet understand English, although his dialogue is kept to a minimum. I wish I could say the same for his arch-nemesis, who slathers way too much evil sauce on every word and action, constantly grunting and huffing when he isn't over-enunciating. At least he cuts an imposing figure, a trait further aided by his icy blue stare. For some unexplainable reason everyone is named after the manufacturers of musical instruments (for example, Gibson Rickenbacker, Fender Tremelo, Marshall Strat, etc). Performances from the supporting cast are flatter than a five-year-old's chest. The small budget allots for only a couple science-fiction-style special-effects.

I wish I had been introduced to this film in my youth, back when I regularly devoured every Van Damme offering from the video store. I doubt Cyborg would've been a favorite, but I know that ten-year-old me would've gotten more enjoyment from it. After all, even if Van Damme doesn't yet display the charisma of later efforts, he's still undeniably cool and bad ass in every scene, and Cyborg gives him plenty of opportunities to exhibit those educated fists and feet. (I forgot to mention that his boots are equipped with retractable blades, which is f**king bodacious; although the cast member who lost an eye to one of Van Damme's blades and sued his ass afterwards probably doesn't share my enthusiasm.) The movie looks better than its budget. The utilization of abandoned industrial buildings does wonders for the post-apocalyptic setting. The costumes, even if they were likely raided from the The Road Warrior, are top notch. The big battle at the end is overblown in the best way. There's plenty to like about Cyborg, and it's a quick, fun, action-filled venture into the wasteland, but some of its most glaring flaws -- namely those god-awful flashbacks -- sully the good points just a tad too much for me.


Time to Split

(. . . I can't feel my nuts anymore.)

I mostly feel the same way about Cyborg but it's been quite a few years since I saw it the last time.

Also Albert Pyun is/was one of the better B-movie directors. I've seen quite a few of his films and he manages to make them quite nice looking for the budget and he has his own unique style (I'm talking about his older films, btw, I'm not sure if I've seen anything from this century). The Sword and The Sorcerer and Nemesis at least are kinda decent trash (and if you're into naked women bodybuilder's you might want to check Nemesis 2).

I know I saw Cyborg many years ago and I vividly remember the scene you mention with him poised on high ready to pounce but I'll be darned if I can remember anything else about it (including the other scene you describe)
Purely for the benefit of my bad memory: 2016 • • • 2017 • • •
2018 • • • 12 • • • C&C • • • 110 • • • Summer • • • Noms

Almost famous for having nailed Madonna once

Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
Cyborg? I remember when I was like 6 and it was aired on TV at like midnight and I begged my mum to let me watch it (even though it was marked as "adults only"). She agreed, but I fell asleep within the first 30 minutes of the film.