Cyborg Cop (1993)

If you’ve ever heard of “Cyborg Cop”, you might wonder why the ISCFC has never covered it – it’s perfect for us, in terms of era, production company, stars and plot. Well, I watched it about a week before I answered a forum post saying “anyone want to review movies?” and started writing for this site, back in 2012, and I’ve needed this amount of time to forget enough stuff about it to watch it again, and it fits in nicely with our “— Cop” series of reviews.

It’s a welcome return for David Bradley – not the one from “Kes”, or the one from the “Harry Potter” movies, I’m talking about the famous one here – last seen by us in “American Samurai”. Here, he’s DEA agent Jack Ryan (generic name alert!) and he and his brother Philip (Todd Jensen) are tracking down some dealer through a disused factory. The dealer has a hostage and a vest, so Jack takes out his magic armour-piercing bullets, which you’d think would be referenced later during the climactic battle but totally aren’t, and shoots him. Hostage survives, bad guy dead, no problem, right? Well, the TV news, making Fox News look actually fair and balanced, are there within seconds, and as the dead guy is the son of a media magnate, Jack is out of a job.

Jack retires to a generic bar, to wear a leather jacket and a fanny-pack and look miserable. Philip, still a DEA guy, takes a team to storm the remote compound of Kessel, and here’s where I need to stop the review for a moment.

John Rhys Davies! Reviews of his movies litter our pages, and his run on TV show “Sliders” is a particular highlight – we can even leave aside his crappy Margaret Thatcher-supporting right wing views. But here, he clearly turned up for the first day of filming and said “hey, director! I’ve got an idea. How about I do a camp Yorkshire accent?” and then just refused to change it when everyone said it was not a good idea. As far as I’m aware, it’s not JRD’s real accent (having been born down south and brought up in Wales) and it appears this particular voice is not one of his strong suits. Anyway.

Philip is captured by Kessel and Jack has to go and look for him. As the title sort of gives it away, Kessel’s business plan, as well as selling drugs, is to create cyborg warriors and sell them to international terrorist organisations – the prototype is the guy who captures Philip. Before we go any further, Quincy (the prototype’s name) has an amazing knife-hand thing, like a combination of Freddy Krueger and Wolverine, and his impassive performance is a minor gem. Anyway, Jack gets to (Mysterious Unnamed Caribbean Island) and wouldn’t you know it, the reporter who exposed him back at the beginning of the movie is here on the island to look into the same thing! It may take you at least three seconds to figure out they’ll be having sex at some point soon; but Alonna Shaw, who plays Cathy, is actually a pretty good actress, so it’s still fun to watch.

The movie progresses pretty much like you expect it to. Jack and Cathy investigate things, get involved in chases and fights, and Kessel tries to track them down, or kill them, or both. Director Sam Firstenberg (who also did the first two “American Ninja” movies, as well as “American Samurai”) knows how to keep things going at a good pace. There’s a fine example of something which is lost in movies today – good blood squibs. There’s so much CGI shooting these days that it’s fun to see someone doing it the old way, and doing it well too.

Also, kudos to writer Greg Latter, who’s got some comedy form. As well as JRD’s performance (which we could charitably describe as OTT on purpose), there’s some decent banter between the two stars, and some decent comic relief from Kurt Egelhof as “Rastaman”. Plus, a guy gets a hole punched right through his head, which (I hope for my sanity) was put in there as a grim joke.

This is another Nu Image production. They were founded by executives from Cannon after that company folded (check out our review of the Cannon documentary HERE) and decided to make movies just as cheesy as Cannon did, but to actually have a control on their finances and so on. That’s why Golan and Globus are a joke now and Nu Image is making the Expendables movies and sitting on a large pile of cash. We have the solid performance and low-ish budgets of movies like “Cyborg Cop” to thank for that success. Hurray, I guess?

Both main stars never made another movie past the late 90s, and I think that’s a shame. David Bradley was a great martial artist, looked like a leading man and, towards the end, bothered to learn acting (he’s totally fine in this, for example). Alonna Shaw is way better than I expected a former model to be, too, so there’s precious few of those moments where your brain tunes out because you can tell everyone on screen is struggling with their lines.

So, it’s a lot of fun, there’s plenty of action, and cyborgs too! ISCFC readers will no doubt have a fine time with this one. Join us in a few days to see if part 2 is anywhere near as good!

Rating: thumbs up

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