Today I watched Albert Pyun’s Nemesis (1992)
Albert Pyun has gone on record as saying he was never particularly interested in post apocalyptic or cyberpunk stories, directing so many movies of the type because it was so easy at the time to get them made. While I doubt he was being dishonest, Pyun undersells his own ability to tell these types of stories and perhaps more importantly his eye for imagery perfect for the subject matter. Nemesis tells the tale of a burned out cyber cop from LA in a world that seems to be falling apart. This cop, Alex, is forced out of retirement to hunt down an ex lover of his who has betrayed the law because she discovered a secret plot to start a war between cyborgs and everyone else.
While this film does not really maintain a solid or well thought out theme throughout that has not been done better elsewhere (Robocop, Ghost in the Shell) it does touch on some interesting sci-fi elements, Namely a cyborg’s ownership of their own body. This theme may not be central to the film, which is really just about the action, but let’s admit that this is schlock in which any issues raised at all are welcome as long as they don’t distract from the action.
Said action is mostly John Woo inspired bullet mayhem, making use of cyborg’s inherent bullet resistance and durability in some expert ways. This film is chock full of creative stunt work and violence, it doesn’t just pull the shooting a hole through the floor trick, the main character goes from the third floor all the way to the basement! As the fighting gets fierce , the frame is filled with sparks and debris, it’s bayhem before bayhem and done with incredible practical effects. Bayhem for those who are not in the know is the particular style of visual carnage that Michael Bay popularized and is literally everywhere in modern Hollywood.
From the intense and fun action to the clever effects work and intriguing plot, Nemesis is pretty much everything I want from this kind of B-Movie. It even has some solid acting, Olivier Gruner plays Alex and while he is not so great at vocally emoting his face is the subtle kind of expressive necessary to play a cyborg. One issue this film does have is a loose definition of cyborg, which seems to mean here something closer to android, while characters who are cyborgs by modern vernacular standards, i.e. they have integrated technology into their body, are considered totally human. Despite some confusing diction I was totally drawn into this movie as a wonderful piece of 90’s action camp, it is a fast paced romp through a fun and cleverly designed setting that should appeal to anyone ready to laugh at an old granny pumping an entire magazine into a cyborg’s skull. 4/5