Cyborg Preview

As Poe peers into the blinding light of the puzzle box supernova he glimpses Rich fighting for his life against the robot gals. They are pulling him towards the Hell that resides within and as they do he’s becoming younger and younger. Poe stares into the eyes of 12-year-old Rich, who is now barely able to fend off their robot strength. Young Rich, that dope tween who so many years ago in the bayou professed his love for B*Witched. Who wore the shit out of a jean jacket and helped Jellyroll out of every jam. Who taught Ernie how to dance and was… was Poe’s best friend. His best friend, whose eyes now pleaded with him for help. Together they could defeat them, but Poe’s love prevented that. “Think!” Poe screams in agony. “Why must love hurt so much?!” he shouts, pounding his fists against the puzzle box. It closes slightly under the force and suddenly Poe knows what he must do. Love won’t let him destroy his lady (robot) loves, but perhaps… perhaps their love could be preserved. And with that he reaches out to Rich. The power within Rich reaches out in response and together they make the impossible possible. Rich is ripped out of the box and back into the ghost ship with the most ship. He looks away and Poe asks what he saw. “You… you were an old man,” Poe nods in understanding. He saw a Young Rich, while Rich saw Old Poe. Make sense. But Rich stops him and continues, “you weren’t just an old man. You were the old man… from the Six Flags commercial.” And they both shudder in horror, the spell only broken by a cough from the robot ladies. “You ready for a cyborg fight?” they ask. That’s right. We’re watching the JCVD classic (?) Cyborg. It’s set in a far apocalyptic future and presumably has cyborgs in it. That’s enough for us. Let’s go!

“You’re a cyborg, too,” the guard whispers in fear, his eyes darting wildly around the room. “Yes,” the two disfigured men say, “but this ain’t no nightmare. And soon the… twins,” one spits in disgust, “will know what we are capable of. Once we possess their… power.” And with that they enter the portal. That’s right! We’re watching Cyborg 2, the straight-to-video sequel to Cyborg that starred Angelina Jolie in her first film role. A whole two years before Hackers! Let’s go!

Cyborg (1989) – BMeTric: 57.8; Notability: 18 

(I’m a bit surprised that a film produced by a studio which had basically already went bankrupt managed to get 18 well known people involved. The ratings they are arising, but it is still close to being in the fours which is very very low. Sweet 2011 inflection as well.)

RogerEbert.com – 1.0 stars – I am not sure I remember the opening words of “Cyborg” exactly, but I believe they were, “After the plague, things really got bad.” I do remember laughing heartily at that point, about 30 seconds into the movie. Few genres amuse me more than post-apocalyptic fantasies about supermen fighting for survival. “Cyborg” is one of the funniest examples of this category, which crosses “Escape from New York” with “The Road Warrior” but cheats on the budget.

(Haha, yeah that sounds about right. It is a totally earnest knock-off of other better films while trying to make it all on a sub-$1 millon budget. Ebert shouldn’t have pulled the punch though, give it the full thumbs down.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3BeaSdMxehg/

(Man I love Cannon. They made just insane films! “Take him out!” The cyborg-vision looks suspiciously like the interface in Universal Soldier. And oh shit, he’s doing the splits!!! I am amped for Cyborg!!!!)

Directors – Albert Pyun – (Known For: The Sword and the Sorcerer; Future BMT: Captain America; Kickboxer 2: The Road Back; Alien from L.A.; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; Dangerously Close; BMT: Cyborg; Notes: Inducted into the B-movie Hall of Fame in 2011. He thrived in the 90s straight-to-video era. Released a Director’s Cut of this film in 2011.)

Writers – Albert Pyun (written by) (as Kitty Chalmers) – (Known For: The Sword and the Sorcerer; Future BMT: Alien from L.A.; Adrenalin: Fear the Rush; BMT: Cyborg; Notes: Apparently actually filmed a Cyborg sequel, but due to health issues it remains stuck in post-production.)

Actors – Jean-Claude Van Damme – (Known For: Bloodsport; Kung Fu Panda 3; The Expendables 2; Kung Fu Panda 2; Kickboxer: Retaliation; Kickboxer; Hard Target; Timecop; Kickboxer: Vengeance; Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning; Sudden Death; Lukas; JCVD; Enemies Closer; Future BMT: Street Fighter; Derailed; Welcome to the Jungle; The Order; Legionnaire; Double Impact; Maximum Risk; Inferno; Replicant; The Quest; Black Water; Missing in Action; Pound of Flesh; Nowhere to Run; A.W.O.L.: Absent Without Leave; Breakin’; Last Action Hero; BMT: Universal Soldier: The Return; Double Team; Cyborg; Knock Off; Universal Soldier; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screen Couple for Double Team in 1998; and Nominee for Worst New Star for Bloodsport in 1989; Notes: Y’all know JCVD. He used to re-edit his early films to make the action scenes better, and this film is no exception. He apparently re-edited the film for two months prior to its release.)

Deborah Richter – (Known For: One on One; Promised Land; Future BMT: Square Dance; BMT: Cyborg; Notes: Was married to Charles Haid who was on Hill Street Blues (she played his wife in that show on occasion as well).)

Vincent Klyn – (Known For: Point Break; Future BMT: Kickboxer 2: The Road Back; In God’s Hands; BMT: Double Dragon; Cyborg; Notes: A professional surfer, he was at one point a top five surfer in the world. Pyun saw him at a tournament and then chose him as the antagonist of Cyborg based on his intimidating look.)

Budget/Gross – $500,000 / Domestic: $10,166,459 (Worldwide: $10,166,459)

(That is an incredible return! See, this is how Cannon made its dough back in the day. Well … Actually this was their last release before going bankrupt. They would come back for a bit in the early 90s, but they completely collapsed by 1994.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 20% (3/15)

(I get to make a consensus: Just another martial arts film, and just another post-apocalyptic film with a main character which requires no acting ability to play. Reviewer Highlight: Mr. Van Damme’s Gibson is so opaque that he makes Mel Gibson’s Mad Max seem weepy by comparison. – Stephen Holden, New York Times)

Poster – Sklogborg

(I was trying to make the hardest to pronounce fake film name and I think I succeeded. Half sklog, half robot, all rock-and-roll. Sklogborg. Oh right, the poster. Uh, that’s crazy. But also just crazy enough that if I saw that in a theater I’d probably be intrigued. C+)

Tagline(s) – He’s the First Hero of the 21st Century…And He’s Our Only Hope. (D)

(Those seem like two random sentences smashed together into a cyborg of a tagline. It’s simply terrible. But not so terrible that I’m embarrassed for it.)

Keyword – cyborg

Top 10: Avengers: Endgame (2019), Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (2019), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), Bloodshot (2020), Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Deadpool 2 (2018), Alita: Battle Angel (2019), Mortal Engines (2018), Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw (2019)

Future BMT: 55.9 The Stepford Wives (2004), 50.1 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016), 46.6 Solo (1996), 30.0 Mortal Engines (2018), 29.2 Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone (1983), 25.0 Teen Agent (1991), 23.4 Impostor (2001), 22.0 Terminator Genisys (2015), 19.4 Terminator Salvation (2009);

BMT: Bloodshot (2020), Sucker Punch (2011), Jupiter Ascending (2015), Masters of the Universe (1987), Universal Soldier (1992), Judge Dredd (1995), RoboCop 2 (1990), Jason X (2001), RoboCop 3 (1993), Cyborg (1989), Universal Soldier: The Return (1999)

(The later uptick is clearly because of Marvel and DC films … but it does seem like cyborgs are having a moment doesn’t it? Ooooo I really want to watch Solo, it seems like an insane film.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Jean-Claude Van Damme is No. 1 billed in Cyborg and No. 1 billed in Double Team, which also stars Mickey Rourke (No. 3 billed) who is in Get Carter (2000) (No. 4 billed), which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 1 + 3 + 4 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 19. If we were to watch Maximum Risk we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – Jean-Claude Van Damme accidentally wounded Jackson ‘Rock’ Pinckney’s eye during a swordfight scene, permanently blinding him in that eye. He took Van Damme to court, and eventually won a settlement.

This was the last official theatrical release for Cannon Films after going bankrupt in 1987. (Wow! That is fun)

Jean-Claude Van Damme re-edited the film, much as he did with Bloodsport (1988), to make the fight scenes more exciting and trim down the drama. Van Damme spent two months editing the film. He would do the same on Hard Target (1993) (WTF?!)

This film was conceived to use the costumes and sets built for a Masters of the Universe (1987) sequel and a live action ‘Spider-Man’ film. Albert Pyun planned to shoot both projects simultaneously. Cannon Films had to cancel deals with Mattel and Marvel because of their financial troubles, and they needed to recoup the money spent on both projects. Pyun created the film’s script, under the pseudonym of Kitty Chalmers, using two previous scripts, “Johnny Guitar” and “Alex Rain”. Some network television channels still give the film’s title as ‘Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg,’ leading people to think it’s a sequel. (WHAT IS HAPPENING! That is a crazy story. I want to read both Johnny Guitar and Alex Rain!)

The MPAA originally gave the film an “X” rating. Numerous cuts got it rated “R”, including a good deal of blood in the village massacre and one character’s death scene. (What? The film isn’t even that violent)

The test screening was a disaster. Only one out of 100 people surveyed liked the film. Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus tried to convince Jean-Claude Van Damme to allow them to release the movie as it was. Instead, Van Damme convinced both producers to let him edit the film, as he had done with Bloodsport (1988), and asked them for 2 months. Cyborg was finally released 2 months later. (Jeez)

The budget, including Jean-Claude Van Damme’s salary, was $500,000. The studio had already spent $2 million on production design, costumes, and miscellaneous prep work on the aborted projects “Masters of the Universe 2” and “Spider-Man.” (Ah, so with the box office take of about $10 million it was probably not that far from a wash in the end)

Matthias Hues turned down a role in the film. Years later, he claims to regret the decision. (But why would he regret it?)

The chain mail and forearm guards worn by Fender were part of the costume for the character “Blade” in Masters of the Universe (1987). (Ahhhhhh right!)

After the success of Bloodsport (1988), Cannon films offered Jean-Claude Van Damme the lead in Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection (1990), American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989), or this film. He chose the latter, and later admitted “I didn’t like the film so much.” (Neither of the other two were very good though.)

Albert Pyun originally envisioned the film as a heavy opera without dialogue, shot in granulated black and white. The producers rejected the idea. (How much cocaine was Pyun doing when he pitched that idea?)

Albert Pyun is currently developing a prequel to this film, which was originally titled “Cyborg: Rise of the Slingers”, before the title was changed to “Cyborg Nemesis”. The film which takes place before “Cyborg”, details the formation of the Slingers, after the plague brought about the fall of civilization and the Pirates begin terrorizing the survivors and the Slingers are organized to deal with them. (Yeah it isn’t happening because Pyun retired after being diagnosed with MS)

In 2011, Curnan Pictures got hold of the missing tapes of the original cut of the film through Tony Riparetti, Albert Pyun’s original choice for score artist. This director’s cut features Pyun’s editing and previously unreleased scenes. It is commercially available through the director himself. Pyun’s director’s cut was released in 2014 in Germany with the film’s original title, “Slinger”. (What? Wait …. What? I can watch the Director’s Cut of Cyborg?)

The original theatrical version does not explain what Slingers are. In the director’s cut, the opening crawl defines Slingers as hired warriors who safely escort people out of cities and protect them from pirates.

When the film was first released on VHS in Germany, so many violent scenes were cut out that it ran only around 58 minutes, not even reaching feature length.

The film is included on the film critic Roger Ebert’s “Most Hated” list.

The film is believed to be a remake of Fist of the North Star (1986).

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