Release Date: January 29th, 1993 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Albert Pyun Actors: Olivier Gruner, Tim Thomerson, Merle Kennedy, Marjorie Monaghan, Marjean Holden, Brion James, Deborah Shelton, Jennifer Gatti
n Los Angeles, California, in the year 2027, the world is overrun by information terrorists and cyborg outlaws. LAPD officer Alex Rain (Olivier Gruner) is assigned to apprehend data chip smuggler Morico (Borovnisa Blervaque), resulting in the woman’s robotic head being blown apart. The courier was to be met by members of the terrorist organization Red Army Hammerheads, and they don’t take kindly to the interception. Though chief gunwoman Rosaria (Jennifer Gatti) destroys much of Rain’s already robotic body (he prides himself on being 86.5% human), technicians are able to utilize synthetic flesh and bioengineered organs to put him back together, over the course of six months.
He’s sent to Baja, New America, for recuperation, where he tracks down and executes Rosaria, proving that he’s physically ready to be reassigned to the field. Synthetic commander Jared (Marjorie Monaghan), who also serves as an unnecessary narrator, and Commissioner Farnsworth (Tim Thomerson) evaluate Alex’s performance, but the vengeful cop retires to New Rio De Janeiro, where he works freelance for a year with the Brazil Triad. But Farnsworth forcibly recruits him again by having a bomb installed in his heart, extorting him to reclaim stolen security plans concerning an upcoming meeting between the American president and the Japanese prime minister.
Jared has become a renegade freedom fighter and, along with fellow fugitive Julian (Deborah Shelton), plans to sell the information to the leader of the Hammerheads, somewhere in Shang Loo, Java. Alex has three days to find them before his heart literally explodes. If he can complete this one last delegation, Farnsworth claims he will set him up in a real retirement with money and possessions. But when undercover officer Billy Moon (Thomas Jane, credited here as Tom Janes) is found out, and dangerous crime boss Angie-Liv (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) comes knocking, Alex begins to realize the operation is steeped in corruption and double-crosses and that no one can be trusted.
The opening scene is instantly action-oriented, followed by a multi-party shootout at a construction site, with an uncountable quantity of bullets being unleashed by black-garbed, sunglasses-wearing female assassins. Explosions take place every few seconds. The plot continues to be overly complex and unfolds at a nonstop, breakneck pace, with one action sequence rapidly replacing another, while fight scenes and stunts regularly occur without reason (other than to fill up the screen). Every role is involved in visual feats, some of which are unique and energetic – especially a hotel escape involving blasting holes through the floors that would be unashamedly stolen years later for Len Wiseman’s “Underworld.”
“Nemesis” borrows heavily from “The Terminator,” with its human versus cyborg themes (man and machine warfare), visible machinery components invading flesh, lack of comedic relief, general grittiness, mutilation of ocular material, the seemingly everlasting persistence of the robots, and Gruner’s abrasive accent. It also snags concepts from “Robocop,” with the murderous overkill gunplay, mechanized rejuvenation and outfitting, and police career and betrayal. Colors are no more original, being muted and possessing low contrast, though they nicely depict the post-apocalyptic environment, while sets crumple under the onslaught of projectiles and ammunition (many appear like abandoned construction zones where destruction can be doled out indifferently).
But the film is nonetheless thrillingly stylized, riddled with slow-motion, practical gore and makeup effects (few outdated computer graphics are to be found), operatic music infused with metallic sounds and dominant drum kit beats, and more weapons and spent cartridges than “The Matrix.” On an amusing side note, all of the female characters are given male names and vice versa – thanks to the writing of Rebecca Charles and director Albert Pyun, either intent on emasculating the men or commenting on the unisex qualities of androids (and the incredibly toned bodies of the leading ladies). If “Nemesis” is little more than a rip-off of countless other great science-fiction and action films of the ‘80s, it’s definitely one of the best.
– Mike Massie