Post-apocalyptic movies hold a special place in my heart. There is just something intriguing about fantasizing about the end of civilization and how mankind would fare in such a dire situation. The late seventies and all of the eighties were a goldmine for this genre of films and the bulk of the good ones were released in this time period. I think that the amount of these films being made directly correlates to the state of the nation at the time—in the eighties, the United States was on the brink of annihilation with the Cold War (mutual assured destruction anyone?) and filmmakers were more than happy to explore that idea. Cyborg came out at the tail end of that era and while it isn’t an instant classic, it does have a few cool ideas.
The film is a Jean-Claude Van Damme action vehicle and he plays his usual martial arts slinging good guy. The story is revealed with a series of flashbacks and his past turns out to be the most interesting part of the story. It is paced well and there are some twists and turns that you won’t see coming. Cyborg takes place in a world ravaged by plague, starvation and fighting and it conveys the desolate world in a convincing way. The backdrops are colorful and interesting and it seems they spent most of the budget on making Armageddon look cool and they definitely took a page from Mad Max when it came to character designs.
All of the characters costumes are especially sweet. The main villain wears chainmail, furs and radical shades and he looks not unlike a post-apocalyptic Ice-T. The cyborg has some really good animatronics and the blood and guts look realistic. Most of the fight scenes are pretty terrible and the choreography and the editing in them do not hold up to other movies Van Damme has starred in. I’m almost positive the score was composed and performed entirely on an old Casio keyboard and it adds absolutely nothing to the film. It’s easily the worst part of the movie.
While I wouldn’t necessarily say that Cyborg is a great movie, it does have some interesting ideas. Apparently, it was heavily edited to get an R-rating and there is a director’s cut available (which I have not seen). As a side note: the transfer on the Blu-ray for this movie is very good—I wish they gave all older films this treatment. Cyborg is middle of the road when it comes to end of the world films but worth a watch, especially if you dig those types of films or are in the mood for some low budget sci-fi.
-Review by Michelle Kisner