Omega Doom (1996)

That Hauer picture is from a different movie

That Hauer picture is from a different movie

If there’s a movie you don’t want to be reminded of, it’s “Nemesis 4”. Boy oh boy, does that movie suck, although surprisingly suckiness is not the primary reminder here. We’re talking location, and if you remember Nemesis 4 (pray you don’t) then you’ll remember the large, bombed out town square, the one side street and the numerous rubble-strewn buildings. I imagine Eastern Europe was lousy with such places in the 1990s (although they do look very very similar), and low-budget auteurs like our friend Albert Pyun took advantage.

 

Oh yes, that’s the slightly more important link. In 1996, Pyun made both this and “Nemesis 4”, so best guess is he shot them both at the same time in the same location (I bet he begged Rutger Hauer to show up in the other one too). So, thanks to my punishment-gluttony, we’ve got another 90s post-apocalyptic Pyun-helmed robot B-movie to enjoy!

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Hauer is Omega Doom, although he’s never referred to by that name in the course of the movie. There’s a voiceover at the beginning, the classic scumbag’s trick when your movie doesn’t make sense and you need to explain it – this is a war between robots (yes, they’re called robots throughout, no-one says “cyborg”) and humans, and the robots win. The last human soldier shoots Hauer, and it wipes his memory and evil directives, so he becomes a nameless wanderer.

 

In the meantime, the robots have split into factions and are feuding with each other over…god knows. What do robots need, exactly? They drink water every now and again, but I get the feeling that’s just because they had a bar set and couldn’t think of anything else to do with it. So, there’s the Droids (who look like yer average post-apocalyptic people) and the Roms (who all look like Carrie-Anne Moss from “The Matrix”), a bartender, a bloke who keeps getting his head kicked off (called “The Head”) and Hauer.

No, that's a great effect :)

No, that’s a great effect 🙂

Basically, it’s a retelling of “Yojimbo” / “A Fistful Of Dollars”, where an unnamed stranger walks into town, plays both sides off against each other, leaves the few good people unscathed and walks off into the sunset. As soon as this (not particularly original) thought had settled in my head, I became annoyed, because both those movies are masterpieces of cinema, and this is some pile of garbage made by one of the worst regularly working directors in history. It did nothing interesting or original with the central idea, either, and in fact making all the characters robots made it significantly stupider. There’s not a single human being in this movie, despite their motivation to find the MacGuffin (a cache of weapons) being a rumour that some humans survived and are starting an army.

 

It’s also not terribly exciting. My wife turned to me at about the halfway point and went “shouldn’t there be some fighting?” – given our last Pyun review, “Knights”, was nothing but fighting for the last half-hour, I wish he’d balance his movies a bit better. Because his plan is screamingly obvious, even to someone who’s never seen “A Fistful Of Dollars”, too much of the movie is just waiting around for him to wrap up his plan and bugger off.

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So you’ve got a movie with no-one to cheer for, which is ugly, boring and full of plot holes. Is there anything to recommend? Well, there’s Rutger Hauer. He’s one of my favourite actors, and has been in some of the greatest genre movies ever (including sleeper classic “The Salute Of The Jugger”), and while he’s sleepwalking through most of this, he’s always fun to watch. And there are a couple of decent supporting performances too, such as Tina Cote as the Rom leader, and Jahi Zuri as one of the Droids, a fine and OTT turn.

 

I know this will come as no surprise to anyone, and I could have saved myself 90 minutes, but I don’t recommend this movie. Unless you’re a reviewer trying to entertain people by writing about it, steer clear. In fact, go watch “The Salute Of The Jugger” again! That movie is amazing! As a “one last thing” idea, the original idea was for this movie to be set at Euro-Disney, and the gangs of robots would have been the animatronic Disney workers, left running for centuries after the apocalypse. Now that might have been interesting.

 

Rating: thumbs down

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Knights (1993)

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Our series on Donald Farmer’s movies will continue – we’re currently keeping our fingers crossed that our efforts to track down a copy of his unreleased-on-video-or-DVD “Space Kid” will come to fruition, and then we can carry on. But in the meantime, ISCFC readers need to know what long-forgotten movies are good or not, so we’ve got work to do.

 

And this brings us back to another ISCFC “favourite”, Albert Pyun. After losing our minds with annoyance at “The Sword And The Sorceror”, we’ve left him alone for a bit, but here we are. It’s got a typical Pyun story behind it, too. After making the surprisingly boring “Cyborg”, Pyun clearly wanted to make a sequel, but the producers decided to go with something people might actually enjoy watching, hiring Elias Koteas and Angelina Jolie. Our Albert wasn’t to be deterred though, and decided to make a couple of cyborg movies anyway, just with different names, which is why we have this and 1996’s “Omega Doom” to enjoy.

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We’re in a typical post-apocalyptic situation – well, I say we are, it’s never really touched on by the movie. Cyborgs and their human slaves raid settlements in order to kidnap people, take them back to their base and drain their blood. The cyborgs have figured out that doing this allows them to live longer, or something, which is actually a pretty cool if impractical idea, given the number of humans this one band of cyborgs gets through in the course of the movie. So, in the middle of a weird fight where the screen is full of dust and you can’t see anything – although we do get a brief cameo from ISCFC Hall of Famer Tim Thomerson, who must have owed Pyun a favour – we meet our hero Nea (kickboxer and her era’s Gina Carano / Ronda Rousey, Kathy Long) and the guy who helps her out, good cyborg Gabriel (Kris Kristofferson).

 

There’s really not a lot more to talk about in terms of plot. The cyborgs are about to invade some town somewhere, and Gabriel was programmed to put a stop to them. There’s an evil creator guy, but he’s only on screen for a few minutes and is clearly there to set up the sequel which never came; and a potentially fascinating subplot where the evil cyborgs say “are we alive?” and start discussing their programming, only to have that entire idea dropped like a hot potato, like a better writer / director had wandered onto the set and filmed that segment. Other than that, it’s the standard hero’s journey, where Nea is trained by Gabriel to take on the big bad.

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That big bad is chief cyborg Job (Lance Henriksen). Henriksen realises how silly this all is and gives it his overacting all, so that’s another mark in this movie’s favour; his henchman is 90s action movie mainstay Gary Daniels, and he’s a little more problematic. Basically, all Job’s lieutenants dress the same, and sort of look the same too (big white guys with stupid hair, and masks covering their faces) so I was under the impression Daniels was killed three or four times. Although one person who couldn’t be accused of looking the same is Kristofferson’s stunt double, who looks a good thirty years younger and has a completely different hairstyle.

 

Our most common complaint about Pyun is his lack of willingness to film transitions, to show how one scene connects to the next. That’s not a problem here, because pretty much nothing happens. Basically the entire second half of the movie is Nea fighting cyborgs and their human lackeys – while some extended fight scenes work due to escalation of the action or through bravura editing / filming techniques, this is just watching an admittedly skilled fighter dispatching hundreds of guys in one of three or so fairly similar ways. There comes a point where you’re begging them to get on with it, to have something else happen, and if Long was a complete non-actor, I’d understand, but she’s really not that bad so some variety would’ve been nice.

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It’s not the worst Pyun movie we’ve ever seen – that’s the three “Nemesis” sequels, in a tie – and it’s always nice to see a woman who looks like she can fight, with an athletic build rather than an impossibly skinny one, but too little happens to make it worth your while.

 

Rating: thumbs down

Land Of Doom (1986)

Don't know who they are, but they're not in this movie

Don’t know who they are, but they’re not in this movie

If you’re a bandit leader in a post apocalyptic situation, I’d probably recommend not indiscriminately slaughtering everyone you come across. Villagers, that poor mass of cannon fodder, do useful stuff like keeping infrastructure in good repair and growing the food that you steal. At some point they’re all going to be dead and neither you nor any of your goons will have learned any of the important life skills like planting crops and sewing those lovely leather outfits you future-people seem to enjoy so much.

 

And if you’re a remotely discerning movie viewer, I’d definitely recommend not watching this tedious garbage. Boom! Nailed it! Star of this particular delight is Deborah Rennard as “Harmony”, a striking blonde who survives the slaughter of her village and decides to…actually, I’m not sure what she’s doing. Probably trying to kill the guy who did it, but it’s really never made clear. She’s a badass, described on IMDB as a feminist but really just angry…and who can blame her? Every man who meets her wants to kill her or rape her, which might have at least something to do with her being the only woman in the entire movie (certainly the only one who doesn’t get immediately shot).

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All men bar one, that is – Anderson (Garrick Dowhen, looking like a low-rent Thomas Gibson), who’s also after the warlord Slater. She finds him bleeding in a cave, and he says he’s been there for days, indicating he’s close to death. But no! He’s fine, he just needed some motivation to get up and get going, it would seem. So, the two of them wander through the wilderness for a bit, before having a confrontation with Slater, and then setting up a sequel which most definitely never came thanks to one of the stupidest “we ran out of money, will this do?” non-endings it’s been my displeasure to watch. The actors at least tried, the filmmakers just gave up really quickly.

 

That’s really it. If you like seeing normal bikes with sort of cardboard armour glued to them riding round Turkey, then this might be the movie for you; otherwise, almost certainly not. The sole moderately interesting thing is the location – the cave villages of Turkey, one of the more unusual places to live on Earth. But when you’ve had enough of looking at them, and realise no-one’s going to drop in a weird out of place reference to how great Islam is (like the even-more-terrible-than-this “Turkish Star Wars”), then there’s really nothing remotely interesting about “Land Of Doom”. Okay, if you’re really trying to find entertainment, there’s a bunch of guys who dress like Jawas (talking of Star Wars), and a closing theme devoted to our star, called “Harmony’s Land of Doom”, which is awful-ly good fun.

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I don’t imagine Deborah Rennard gives two hoots about us mocking her old movie, though (perhaps Garrick Dowhen might, as he never acted again). Mostly retired since 1997, she’s married to two-time Oscar winner Paul Haggis, who wrote “Million Dollar Baby”, “Crash”, a couple of recent James Bond movies, and was the creator of “Due South”, one of my favourite TV shows.

 

I would recommend looking elsewhere for your cheesy 1980s post-apocalyptic fun. Check this list out, I reckon a good 90% of them are more entertaining than this.

 

Rating: thumbs down

 

Cherry 2000 (1988)

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This review thanks to a request / dare from regular reader Dave.

What we have here is a fascinating, funny movie with a great visual style…that completely fails to answer its own central mystery. It feels like some explanation was edited out deliberately to keep us in the dark, and that particular problem will become apparent in a paragraph or so. But what it does have is one of the greatest B-movie casts ever assembled, with three ISCFC Hall of Famers (should we ever do one) gracing the screen.

It’s 2017! The lead drives a weird car with two wheels at the front and one at the back (literally all the other cars in the movie are perfectly normal, though)! Something bad has clearly happened to the world, but LA still largely functions, and Sam Treadwell (TV stalwart David Andrews) works at a huge recycling centre, where endless queues of people bring in metal, cables and suchlike in return for large boxes of something or other. Food, maybe? There’s a fun bit of world-building here, as Sam and his friends go to a bar where lawyers act as pimps for prostitutes, negotiating insanely complicated one-night contracts – the main lawyer is Larry Fishburne, before the early 90s would make him famous (also, this movie was filmed in 1985 but not released til 1988).

CHERRY 2000, Pamela Gidley, David Andrews, 1987, (c) Orion

CHERRY 2000, Pamela Gidley, David Andrews, 1987, (c) Orion

Anyway, Sam goes home at the end of a hard day to his beautiful and somewhat vacant wife, only for it to turn out she’s a robot, a “Cherry 2000” model. While they’re about to have sex on the kitchen floor, the water from an overflowing sink causes her to have a complete meltdown (a rather substantial design flaw, when you think about it), which leaves Sam alone and distraught, especially when he realise she can’t be fixed. He even goes to a robot mechanic, who offers him a variety of other robot women, but he’s all about the Cherry.

What he still has is her (apparently very rare and valuable) personality chip, a tiny CD-looking thing, and armed only with that and a knowledge of where replacement Cherry 2000 models can be found  – the no-mans-land of Zone 7 – he sets off for the Wild West town of Glory Hole to find himself a Tracker to take him into this forbidden area. Melanie Griffith is E Johnson, the best tracker of the lot, but because Sam, along with pretty much every man in the world, is a touch on the sexist side, he tries to find a “better” one and ends up with Brion James, who just takes him into an alley and tries to jump him.

He eventually hires E to take him to Zone 7, which brings him into conflict with Lester (Tim Thomerson), a psychopath who cheers his gang up with sports-coach-cum-New-Age platitudes. Lester’s girlfriend / hostess / assistant is, coincidentally enough, Sam’s ex-girlfriend, and their whole section is funny and odd and promises much. Anyway, Sam and E have to fight their way through all sorts of problems, all sorts of people, and when they reach their goal they have to fight their way back. There are some pretty fantastic set-pieces, like when they’re caught with a giant car magnet and start shooting and throwing grenades at their captors as they’re being swung across a large canyon, and if you can’t tell the ending then I would like to show you a new game called three-card monte.

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To create some very slight tension as to what that big old problem is, I’ll tell you the good stuff. It’s got an amazing visual style, with three very distinct areas – the city and its postapocalyptic, claustrophobic look; Glory Hole, like a techno-Wild West; and Lester’s place, what looks like a 1950s view of the future (along with a submerged-in-sand Las Vegas). Either they had an amazing location scout or this was a higher-budget movie than I expected. It’s also got a fantastic cast, leaving aside a not-terribly-great pair of central performances. Brion James, Tim Thomerson and Robert Z’Dar are all B-movie royalty, and have a fine time here, even if Z’Dar barely says a word and James is ditched after only a few minutes on screen. The two non-Griffith women in the movie, Pamela Gidley as Cherry and Cameron Milzer as Elaine, Sam’s ex, are excellent too.

But it’s not all amazing sets, great guest performances and an exciting, fast-paced script! That script, by the way, is the first screen credit from Michael Almereyda, who’d go on to make the amazing “Another Girl, Another Planet” in 1992 using only the Fisher Price PXL200 kids’ movie camera (it recorded onto normal audio cassettes) and is still writing and directing today. It’s got a huge great gulf at its centre, and that gulf is women.

When you discover that Sam, and lots of other people, have robot wives, the first thought that came to mind was “ah, so women have mostly died out, for some reason”. It sort of explains things, but then you see the wider world and women are everywhere! And it’s not like they’re all radiation-scarred or whatever (Griffith herself is testament to that), so one would hope there’d be a reason why so many men would choose robots without much in the way of brain power over real living women. If there is one, it was either mentioned in passing at the beginning, while I wasn’t listening, or edited out. It could have been an interesting feminist statement about the way society treats women, but it ended up just being the story of a guy who wanted a compliant, dull, sex-slave/housekeeper who finally realised by the end that he’d prefer a real woman. In fact, poor Cherry, resurrected in a new body, is just tricked and abandoned at the end because “she’s just a robot”, which seems unnecessarily cruel to someone who’s “loved” him as she has. It’s all rather confusing.

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Trying not to get sucked into the rabbit hole of understanding this movie, it doesn’t even make sense on its own terms. Firstly, there are no male robots, and the subject never even comes up, as if that would be the stupidest thing you could possibly imagine.  Sam’s decision, after having a rather fun-seeming human girlfriend, to get married to a robot, is also never explored.

But if you don’t think about any of that, then you’ll have a really good time. The sense of humour is strong and it’s pitched at just the right level; it looks fantastic; and it races along at a fair old clip. I can see why the movie company had a tough time marketing it, as it’s a pretty odd little mix of styles, and it would have never been a hit, but we still get to enjoy it.

Rating: thumbs up

Hardware (1990)

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As I move towards 500 reviews here at the ISCFC, I’m taking a break from the normal run of our reviews to do some requests from friends and readers, culminating in number 500, which will be something special from my youth. Okay, this one in particular is no different to the normal rubbish we do, but thanks anyway to my friend Val for suggesting it.

 

There’s a well-known “scam” in low-budget movie circles, most often (allegedly) practiced by names you’ll have heard on here before like Fred Olen Ray and Jim Wynorski. To sell distribution or home video rights to a movie, they’ll make a teaser, usually the first five minutes or so, and then when they’ve attracted money they’ll go ahead and make the rest of the film. So what’s the scam, I hear you ask? That teaser is often completely different to the finished movie, so that first five minutes will look big-budget and exciting and the rest of the film will be…not quite so big budget or exciting, allowing the filmmakers to pocket the difference. The perfect example is Ray’s “The Tomb”, which starts off as an Indiana Jones-style adventure before having 80 minutes or so of people standing round talking on the phone.

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I’m not 100% sure that “Hardware” is one of those movies, with its Weinstein Brothers involvement (the reason the two leads are American, despite it being British-made), but there’s a definite substantial difference between the opening sequence and what comes after. A scavenger is out in the post-apocalyptic desert, and finds the remains of a robot which finds its way into the hands of Dylan McDermott, a slightly cleverer scavenger. He sells most of it to a junk dealer before giving the head to his girlfriend, an artist of sorts, and she – in perhaps the least subtle of this film’s many unsubtle messages – spray-paints it with the flag of the USA before putting it in her latest sculpture.

 

A substantial part of the movie is building that post-apocalyptic world, and they do a fine job of it. Everything is broken and filthy, the radiation from “the big one” is affecting more and more people, and voluntary sterilisation programs are in full effect. A red filter has been put on everything, which grates after a while (perhaps the effect they were going for, as I would not like to live like that), too.

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So the robot head is a military prototype (M.A.R.K. 13 – also a bible verse talking about “No flesh shall be spared”) which can regenerate and repair itself, and as it wakes up it takes an interest in the woman it’s sharing a house with, handily killing her creepy neighbour, and so on, before going after McDermott and anyone else who wanders in. A good 90% of the movie takes place in her apartment, all junk-filled walls and flashing red lights, plus nightmare images on the TV and computer screens (inspired, apparently, by art-noise band Psychic TV).

 

It feels a bit like some wildly OTT melding of “Terminator” and “Alien”, only with a rather reduced scale. If it had been made maybe 5 years earlier, the punk aesthetic it had would have fit with movies like “Repo Man” and it might have worked better, the weirdly disjointed story an artistic choice rather than the necessity of budget. I think it’s more an interesting film than it is a great one, and my main problem with it is the way it seems to keep ending – there’s a big crescendo, and it feels like it’s wrapping up, but there’s half an hour to go…then it happens again, and again. It needed more stuff happening, which I think is at least partly a result of its inspiration being a short comic strip in the greatest comic of all time, “2000AD”.

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Give it a go, I say. You might get a headache from the flashing lights but the awesome soundtrack choices will soothe you (Ministry, Motorhead and Public Image Ltd are all used), and you don’t get too many post-apocalyptic British sci-fi killer robot movies.

 

Rating: thumbs in the middle

Warriors Of The Apocalypse (2009)

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If I lived anywhere near Len Kabasinski, I wouldn’t be a film reviewer. I’d be volunteering on his movies or begging him to give me a job, because the amount of invention he can get out of non-professional casts and budgets that wouldn’t pay for a day of the average big Hollywood movie is a joy to behold.

According to the people at Killerwolf Films, this is being remastered and slightly recut this year, but the one thing I noticed is the increasing confidence in the use of special effects from his previous movie, “Fist Of The Vampire”; so I’m really looking forward to the new version. Heads explode and bullets fly about and things blow up, and it all looks good.

Luca (Darian Caine), Spring (Pamela Sutch), Vick (Amara Offhaus), and Carrie (Renee Porada) are trying to survive in a post- World War 3 wasteland, with zombies wandering about and all sorts of gangs of people who have made their own little societies. They’re trying to get to the last remaining city, as they’re tired of fighting and want to relax, have lives (and get drunk and laid, which I had a chuckle at).

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The bulk of the movie is them fighting their way towards the city, and on top of previously mentioned problems, there’s Rollins (Debbie D), the dictator of the city, sending out her goons (including chief goon Largent, played by Kabasinski himself) to stop the girls. It seems that, despite the city behind her looking huge, she doesn’t want any more people in it. For shame, Rollins! They do get the odd bit of help though, including the prisoner they rescue, Harris (Brian Anthony), who knows the back entrance to the city.

I love the little oddities in this movie. Early on, they blow up a building where they were previously held captive – only problem is, they light the gas trail while they’re still in the building, causing them to have to run for their lives (a cool visual, I suppose, but…) And in tribute to martial arts movies of yore, when there’s a 20-on-1 fight the 20 fight one at a time, to give the 1 a decent chance of survival. I love it! And my favourite crazy credit – “Assistant to Len Kabasinski – Everyone”.

But what I really liked is seeing the ways Killerwolf movies improve. Kabasinski is a good actor and I hope one day he headlines one of his own movies, but he’s coming along as a director as well. The use of special effects is much stronger here, and there’s the way the fight scenes are filmed – there’s lots of interesting use of angles to capture the impact of the big moves, and as he hires a lot of real martial artists the fights themselves look strong. The scene in the lift near the end is a little gem of editing too.

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I mean, if you look at it one way it could be seen like the typical micro-budget “people in the woods” movie we cover on here, and if you’re looking for stuff to mock, you’ll no doubt find a few things. But that’s definitely the wrong way to look at it! It’s fun, fast-paced and there’s a real love for genre movies and martial arts that shines through. I’d definitely recommend checking this out – available from a streaming service or DVD sales place near you now. And check out Killer Wolf Films for more information on what they’re up to now.

Rating: thumbs up

 

PS – this is, oddly, not the first film we’ve reviewed with this exact title. Check out our review of the 1985 “Warriors Of The Apocalypse”, one of the odder Filipino exploitation movies, here.

Youtube Film Club: Karate Cop (1991)

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While this is an exciting title for a movie, if the first part is meant to describe the thing the “cop” does most often, I would have to suggest an alternate and more accurate title, “Almost Gets Captured Cop”. This is a requested review – friend of ISCFC Len Kabasinski (@killerwolffilms) suggested we do this and “No Retreat, No Surrender 4” – and I’m glad he did. I would watch vanity project post-apocalyptic kung-fu movies every day if I could.

After dipping our toe in the waters of Jalal Merhi’s output, we’ve moved on to Ronald Marchini, who was very narrowly beaten by Chuck Norris in a big martial arts tournament in 1964. From there, Norris has gone on to be a far-right-wing lunatic; while Marchini wrote, directed, produced and starred in a few movies from 1986-1995, after which he disappeared from the movie business completely, hopefully to a career he was more suited for.

Marchini, at least, plays to his strengths. In this movie – the sequel to “Omega Cop”, which is proving trickier to track down – he’s John Travis, a man who really likes his hat, which reads “Special Police”, which he wears even when “undercover”. Every other cop has been killed, due to this being a post-apocalyptic situation, but he’s…actually, we first meet him in a ruined building with his dog, looking like he’s hiding. He rescues the beautiful Rachel from a gang of guys in generic far-future garb (ripped clothes, patches of “armour” all over the place, layer of filth) and gets involved in her plan to rescue a bunch of kids called “Freebies” from the villains of the piece, Lincoln and his “Scavs”.

She has access to a teleportation machine, which was handily built by the Government in the corner of an empty room, but needs a crystal to power it, so John has to go and get one, which involves almost getting captured then fighting his way out *a lot*. The Scavs could use the machines to expand their drug empire, apparently, so they can’t find out. You know the score. The Scavs are fantastic, as you’d expect, wildly overacting to a man. Snaker is the secondary boss and wants to make people pay, for what is never quite elaborated, and Lincoln is amazing, all wild hair and odd mannerisms (his female assistant / lover / erotic dancer is brilliant too).

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There are all sorts of curious choices made by “Karate Cop”. As well as the lead character being sort of incompetent and really bad at post-death one-liners, weirdest of all is the self-destruct mechanism for the teleporters. It’s represented by one of those marquee text things, along with a vaguely computer-sounding voice, and it’s a bit…sarcastic? I’m not sure I want my imminent death reported on by a computer that’s trying to suppress a snigger.

Far too highly billed for his on-screen time is David Carradine, in the middle of his “I will appear in literally anything” years. Seriously, look at his 1980s and 90s and see how many of the IMDB entries you recognise. He runs a country & western bar, which just goes to show that even the apocalypse isn’t enough to kill the genre. I got excited at one point because one of the Freebies looked like a young Eli Roth (I like spotting those tiny roles), but I was sadly mistaken.

The fighting in this is great, though, with Marchini really being a top-level martial artist. There’s nothing too flashy, just good strong stuff that looks like it hurts. There’s a whole cage-fighting subplot running through the Scav scenes, too, so you’re never given the chance to get too bored; the only weak link is Marchini’s acting. He really tries, bless him, but given how much he’s on screen and how he never seems terribly natural (except when he’s talking to his dog), it can be pretty tough going at times. If you were wondering, he’s nowhere near as bad as recent ISCFC review subject Jalal Merhi, though.

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I think this is a strong choice for inclusion on your bad movie night playlist. Never too boring, lots of crazy over-acting (the Scavs) and anti-acting (Marchini), and a decent look to it all, given it was apparently the job of the extras to help build the set – the first guy to die in this movie has told his story on IMDB, and it’s pretty interesting.

Rating: thumbs up

Cyborg 2 (1993)

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One of our favourite things here at the ISCFC is weird sequels – we’ve done an article on it, we coined the term “unquel” to describe some of them – and the last couple of days have brought us a few fine examples. “Cyborg 2” makes the least amount of effort possible to be called a sequel, but I presume very few of you are bothered about this preamble because, yes, it’s Angelina Jolie’s first movie (apart from one she did as a kid with dad Jon Voight).

The original “Cyborg” had a look, of sorts – arid post-apocalyptic landscapes, derelict buildings, that sort of rag-effect future-clothing – but part 2 is mostly indoors (the underground city where humanity lives, a large museum, and all sorts of tunnels and cellars, lots of blues). It doesn’t really feel anything like the first film at all – not the clothing, the people, or the world, so why they chose to resurrect the name of an awful 4-year old movie to make this a sequel to is a reason presumably relegated to a subclause of a contract somewhere.

At this point in things, the apocalypse is more a faint distraction than it is a thing that happened. Two companies, one Japanese, one American (Pinwheel), are feuding for control of the world robotics market; humanity lives in underground cities, except for the poorer folk who live “topside”. Cyborgs have taken over much of humanity’s grunt work, plus stuff like prostitution, but Pinwheel has yet another use for them and has invented Glass Shadow, a liquid explosive that cyborgs can carry round in their “blood” until it’s time for them to explode. They’ve chosen one particular model with the most advanced human-like personality, Casella (Jolie), to take a bodyful of Glass Shadow to the base of the Japanese corporation and destroy the competition.

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Elias Koteas, who’s entertained in movies as different as “The Thin Red Line” and “Some Kind Of Wonderful”, is the martial arts trainer for the cyborgs, and naturally, as Angelina Jolie is 22 and almost unfairly beautiful, he falls in love with her, despite fraternising with cyborgs being a complete no-no. But it’s handled in the weirdest way, like there’s no moments between them, the movie just treats it as a thing that has to happen.

Jack Palance shows up, although I’d lay good money on them having paid him for a day, filmed his three scenes then recorded all his oddball dialogue as quickly as possible (nothing like having hacker-speak coming out of the mouth of a 74 year old man). His skills mean he can appear on any screen anywhere to help our heroes with their quest, which starts to get a bit complicated when you factor in all the people who want to blow other people up and so on, including perennial bad guy Billy Drago as an extremely creepy assassin.

There’s a trek across “topside”, with an attempt to esape to Mombasa, the only free place for cyborgs to live apparently, and an underground fight league denouement that really feels like it came out of nowhere. There’s also a weird attempt to tie this into the first movie, as Angelina is shown video of JCVD, saying that cyborg succeeded because she had a human hero; so she needs to get one of her own. But…dammit! The bridge which is shown collapsed at the beginning of part 1 is seen fine during part 2! Of all the landmarks you could show! Why not watch your own damn movies?

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“Cyborg 2” feels like it’s four hours long. I realise getting angry, or just annoyed, is way more emotional investment than a 20 year old low budget sci-fi film deserves. Just laugh and move on! But…it’s a shame when interesting ideas are used this badly. It’s like a severely head-injured version of 1997’s “The Fifth Element”, honestly. It’s got a good (if rather oddly matched) cast, including one of the luckiest piece of lead casting in low-budget movie history, but none of it really makes any sense.

Perhaps it was written by a cyborg, who did not understand our curious human ways. Which would be a good way to explain the ending, surely one of the more inexplicable ones we’ve come across. The big dramatic narrator story about taking some of another’s life on to live like them, or whatever the hell it is, is utterly ignored, and we get a final shot which viewers of “Highlander” will recognise – only that shot was 40 minutes into the movie, and there was a load of fun stuff after that. This just had Jack Palance droning on for a few more seconds, then the credits.

Well done on making a boring movie about killer future robots, you guys! Seriously, how hard can it be?

Rating: thumbs down