Today I watched Albert Pyun’s Cyborg (1989)
Jean-Claude Van Damme is simply not a very good actor, yet I am still always excited to see his flicks. There are plenty of stars out there who have reached the top of the trade despite a lack of skill, there have been plenty of actors who have won awards for essentially just playing themselves. So what about him is so appealing? Well to me there are two things he does well, as an action hero he has a great physique and plenty of moves, beyond that he has this child like wonder in many of his earlier works, he just seems happy to be there and along for the adventure.
In this film Van Damme takes on the role of mercenary in an apocalyptic wasteland who has been hired to protect a cyborg woman who is transporting a cure for a world destroying plague that has crippled humanity. But Van Damme has ulterior motives as the pirates who hunt the cyber woman have also done wrong by the muscles from Brussels. Vincent Klyne plays the villain who wants to control the cure as he loves the opportunities for mayhem it has created.
There are some strange elements to this film that speak to another film idea that never came to pass. The main character’s name is Gibson Rickenbacker and the villain is Fender Tremolo and in interviews Pyun has stated that he wanted this film to be a rock opera, expanding on the ideas he worked with in Radioactive Dreams. This obviously was not the film we have today and the final product is just a little boring and droll in a way some pumping rock jams would have really sorted out. This idea would have played better to Van Damme’s strengths, when he has fun, it is infectious and this movie lacks that sense of fun.
But it isn’t all bad, Van Damme is young and his action work is pretty solid here and Vincent Klyne is an intense villain that makes the film come alive every time he is on screen. The film also has a solid look to it and Pyun is great at making spaces that seem dangerous yet enticing. This is not a very good movie and it is rather plain in terms of story, but it is well paced and if you just need a fix of classic Mad Max ripoff-chic, I would recommend it. 3/5