Retro Raist is back people with volume 2! Yes it’s the new feature where I once again talk about something from the era of either the 80’s or the 90’s. This time around we will be diving into the former, as I bring you a review for a movie that came out way back in 1989: Cyborg! If there is one thing that the roaring 80’s were famous for, and also one of the reasons I am so very much in love with that era, it’s the huge amount of high quality action films. It’s what’s sometimes called the birth of the action hero, as of course it was around that time we saw Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone begin their rise to fame. If you are interested in maybe seeing some of the other films that were released back then you might want to check out my Action Movies of the 80’s post. While Arnold and Sylvester (I almost make them sound like a comedy act) were certainly the biggest stars, we must also not forget some of the others that began their careers as well back then. One of them was Jean-Claude van Damme, aka the “Muscles from Brussels”. With the release of Bloodsport in 1988 he became famous in action circles, and that film is considered by many to be a martial arts classic. One year later Cyborg was made, and I myself have always found this to be one of his best films.
Cyborg takes place in a very dark and post apocalyptic world. Everything has gone to hell, and humanity is struggling to stay on it’s feet. To make matters even worse a terrible Plague is wiping out what’s left of mankind, and scientists are desperately trying to find a cure. Then hope appears in the form of a female cyborg that might just hold the key to bringing an end to the horrible disease. She has to travel from New York to Atlanta in order to make contact with the last of the world’s remaining doctors. However it won’t be an easy journey. The land she has to travel through is very dangerous and bands of pirates are making prey of everyone they come across. One of these gangs is led by the monstrous Fender, a particularly nasty individual, who likes the world as it is. He has no interest whatsoever in curing the disease and just wants it for himself, to exploit it as he sees fit. When he comes across the cyborg and a human escort she is travelling with, he immediately orders his marauders to attack her. They manage to kill the escort but just as they are about to capture her, a young man appears who tries to rescue her. He fails in this, but then sets off in hot pursuit. The man called Gibson Rickenbacker has his own bone to pick with Fender. Together with a young girl they desperately try to stop him, before humanity’s dusk will truly descend…
Well, there is no reason to hide this fact: Cyborg is a B-movie. But anyways, just as we all often like a bit of fast food I also sometimes love to watch B-movies especially if they are fun and action packed. Cyborg certainly falls into both categories. As far as comparisons go, it has a similar vibe to the Mad Max films. I always love watching films set in post apocalyptic times, and it’s definitely presented well here. Even though this film obviously had a low budget, it makes the most of it’s resources. Bleak and depressing buildings combined with some great setpieces help create a foreboding and dark atmosphere. And that’s not all that works well here. The soundtrack of the film is also a cut above the normal and usually bad music one often hears in films like these. Some recurring themes really help set the tone during the many fightsequences this film has, and conveys a depressing mood. The weaponry, especially van Damme’s rifle, looks pretty good too and helps you to believe the fact that these really are the endtimes. So how about the characters in this film, and the actors that portray them?
Besides van Damme himself, none of the actors that appear in this film are well known. But it has to be said, while there are of course no Oscar winning performances here, they still aren’t too horrible. Fender, played by Vincent Klyn is one of those true totally over the top villains. He is a menacing figure, that screams a lot (especially in the final scene, where it gets to the point of becoming slightly annoying), but still works effectively as the bad guy. The young girl that accompanies Gibson on his journey is played by actress Deborah Richter. She really is the only bright and positive character in this film, and at least brings a little bit of light into the world. I liked her quite a lot to be honest, and even though she admittedly didn’t always do the smartest things, she was very brave and had a pure heart. And then of course we have the man himself, mr. Van Damme. Acting has never been his strongest skill, but despite that fact, he still makes Gibson Rickenbacker (yep, craziest name ever) a likeable character. He is the strong silent type, and has more than a passing similarity to Mel Gibson’s Mad Max. (Maybe that’s why his first name is Gibson?). When you learn exactly why he is after Fender, you more than want him to succeed with his revenge.
Last but not least I should adress the action, one of the main reasons one watches films like these. And I have to say on that front the film also does an okay job. Van Damme pulls off many of his signature moves such as the always impressive spin kick, and a split that when you watch it as a male makes you wonder how on Earth he is able to that and keep his private parts intact. Ahem, right. The fight choreagraphy is done well, with some cool slow motion shots, and enough variety to keep it entertaining. It’s also quite bloody and brutal. The special effects, such as they are, are the film’s weakest point, but well there aren’t many there in the first place, so that never really becomes a problem. Cyborg is just a fun film, that you can enjoy when you are on the look out for some mindless entertainment. It’s not the best movie you will come across, but it get’s the job done, and for a now 30 year old movie is still well worth checking out. Just don’t expect too much of it, and you will do just fine. So that brings us to an end of this second volume of Retro Raist. I hope you enjoyed reading it. What’s next you ask? Well, I’m going to keep that a secret for now, but I will give you a small hint: “ I have the pooooooweeerrrrrrr!!!!!” Nuff said. See you next time!
I give Cyborg a 8 out 10 score.