Those of you who love JCVD and his great run of early movies probably don’t even know why this one is sort-of forgotten, the one that you either think sucks, or just avoid whenever you’re in the mood for a movie. Luckily, you have me to help, and the reason you all hate this film is Albert Pyun.
Pyun has made at least two almost-tolerable movies (the first “Nemesis” and “Dollman”) but his list of true garbage is a mile long, starting with the “Nemesis” sequels and extending far in every direction. This is the first in a Cyborg trilogy from Pyun, but they aren’t the actual sequels – “Cyborg 2”, nothing to do with him, is Angelina Jolie’s first starring role, and there’s a 3 as well (Pyun’s two “sequels” are “Knights” and “Omega Doom”). I hope this confuses you and irritates you a little, because it will recreate the feeling of watching this movie. Pyun proves my thesis that most directors aren’t making films because they’re good at it, or have anything to say, they can just hustle well, or they’re friends with a rich person.
Hey, movie, when are you set?
So, we’re in your standard post-apocalypse situation, with the addition of the “living death”, a virus which is never really shown happening to anyone. The remnants of the CDC want to stop it, so they send their best agent to go and get some important information from New York, but they convert her into a cyborg before she goes so she can store the information, or whatever. Anyway, her escort dies, an evil gang who want to control the vaccine are after her, so she has to go and get help from a “slinger”, like a bounty hunter or something (JCVD, character name Gibson Rickenbacker, is the only one we ever see).
But she doesn’t really get help from him, and that’s where the weirdness of this film starts. He keeps getting his ass kicked, so she sort of decides it would be easier to travel with the gang to Atlanta and the CDC then fight them there; JCVD then meets up with an entirely different woman, who ran away from the same gang in an earlier fight but is now prepared to risk her life to help, and spends most of the movie travelling with her. Plus, flashbacks to some time he helped a woman, fell in love with her and stopped the slinging lifestyle for a while.
The one thing JCVD is really good at is fighting. So, if you’re going to have him in a film with a lot of fighting in it, you might reasonably expect his parts to be decent. Aside from a few cool moments here and there, though, he fights like a punch-drunk old boxer, just standing there and taking blows from his opponent, occasionally dishing one out in return (like I said, he gets his ass kicked a lot in this movie). It’s really surprisingly boring, and there’s a lot of it.
Main baddie Fender Tremolo (I have no idea why most of the characters in this are named after guitars, and I can’t be bothered to check) has weird bright-coloured eyes, and reveals them a lot from behind sunglasses – however, after like the third time, I began to wonder why they kept expecting us to be surprised. Or maybe we might think his eyes changed colours? Ah, who cares? JCVD is literally nailed to a cross at one point, but because he’s quite clearly better than Jesus, manages to break it and get himself down. The exact same flashback footage is used twice within about 5 minutes, making me think the movie had lapped itself.
So it’s bad and boring and stupid, and really slow, is what I’m getting at. Two final, related examples of how strange this movie is – when JCVD has his big emotional moment at the end, it’s not with the cyborg woman, nor is it with the woman he’s spent most of the movie with, it’s with an entirely different third woman (the young girl from his flashbacks, all grown up and in the baddie’s gang). And talking of the titular female, you’d think a movie called “Cyborg” would have the actual cyborg be front-and-centre, right? Wrong. She’s fifth-billed and is barely in it, which would be like changing the title of “Candyman” to “The Woman Who Lives Down The Hall From The Heroine Movie”.
Some of this film’s problems can actually be explained though. Cannon Films had lost a boatload of money on deals for “Masters of the Universe” and “Spider-Man” movies that had fallen through, so Pyun, who was going to direct both films simultaneously (!) knocked up a plot for “Cyborg” in a weekend, got “less than $500,000” and filmed it in 23 days. While great films have been made in less time and for less money, not many of them have been post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies; to add injury to insult, one of the actors lost an eye thanks to JCVD stabbing him with a prop knife accidentally, sued and won $485,000.
Sadly, “Cyborg” commits the unforgivable crime of being boring, and it really shouldn’t be. The “stupid” and “sort of pointless” crimes are just corollary.
Rating: thumbs down