Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Cyborg (1989) Review:

Robotics is an interesting field. It has fascinated scientists for decades and now it is becoming more and more integrated into everyday life. The next step is bionic robotics where mechanical equipment is connected to the living tissue. In some cases, it does exist but in limited ways. Upon first seeing the title to this movie, the first impression is that the star, Jean-Claude Van Damme is a cyborg. However, this isn't the case, which is misleading. Credit should be given for this at least being one of the few science fiction films Van Damme has been in that takes place on earth somewhere in the future. Many of Van Damme's early films involve him just participating in tournaments. That being like his most popular, Bloodsport (1988) a year before.

Richter & Van Damme
Back to cybernetics, the title is actually for what propels the plot. In a dystopic future, a lonely man named Gibson (Van Damme) happens to meet a female cyborg being chased by a notorious street gang. The cyborg holds what could be for a possible cure for a plague that inhabits this future. The leader of the street gang, Fender (Vincent Klyn) wants the cure for himself because he and his crew love death. Maybe chaos and being the headman but death? Mmm,..I don't know. As it turns out, Gibson has a history with Fender for him killing his wife, who which also happens to look like the cyborg he ran into. However, Gibson is only after Fender for revenge. He could care less about the cure, but someone else does. Meet Nady (Deborah Richter), a girl who also lost her loved one to Fender but is also more adamant about finding a cure for the plague.

So now there's your set up. Two lonely people venture out to take back from them what Fender and his cronies took away. Unusually, for such a simple follow and grab plot, the movie drags - even for its 86 minute running time. There are numerous scenes that just set up Van Damme for another brawl against Fender's mates. Albert Pyun's direction lacks focus in its storytelling. It is a minor chase film but it never feels like there's a need for a chase. Much of the time the protagonists just nonchalantly walk to their destination. Even though this cyborg is the main plot device, no one seems to be concerned to be in a rush about it. The writing is another strange element. The main characters do have back-stories but have little to no development. For example, when the cyborg finally confronts Gibson, it says "There's no point in rescuing me because the enemy is too strong". Then later on, she decides to help fight back with no explanation. Why the change in opinion?

Gibson's history with Fender is also explained but told through flashbacks. There are even a number of flashback scenes that were repeated, which is a waste. I'm amazed that viewers will be able to understand as much as they can because the dialog peculiarly lacks anything intellectual either. Van Damme barely says anything and Klyn booms with one-word commands that are too simplistic for a gang leader. That and he and the rest of his numbskulls just yell a lot. The only character that does the most talking is Nady (which may be annoying to some) since she's one of those tag along characters. Thankfully, the writer Kitty Chalmers did not move very far after this movie. Well, since this is a Van Damme film, there's got to be some decent action; appallingly not. If you're the truest Van Damme fan, then maybe, but if you just want something to entertain, it's not all that special.

My my grandma Klyn, what big eyes you have!
In fact, the action scenes might bore at times. Throughout the running time, there were only two really unique kills. Other than Van Damme doing his usual and being all that he can be, it's a standard affair. Viewers may enjoy Nady (even though I mentioned earlier she may be annoying too). She too displays feminine power and fights with Gibson. Along with that are decent looking practical effects for the cyborg. That looked good. Philip Alan Waters’ cinematography looked good around the beginning but as the film enters its final act, there aren't many shots to admire. Sadly, Kevin Bassinson's score isn't all too effective to the film. It attempts to involve its viewers with appropriate tunes, but the entire sound is synthetic and feels detached. It could've been at least average, but its writing prevents it from getting there.

Jean-Claude Van Damme tries his best, but his and several other cast members' characters barely make an impact. The writing is sloppy, the direction is slow, the action is derivative and the music is unappealing.

Points Earned --> 3:10

No comments:

Post a Comment