Cyborg (1989)
Cyborg (1989)

Genre: Action and Sci-Fi Thriller Running Time: 1 hr. 26 min.

Release Date: April 7th, 1989 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Albert Pyun Actors: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Deborah Richter, Vincent Klyn, Alex Daniels, Dayle Haddon, Blaise Loong, Rolf Muller, Haley Peterson, Terrie Batson




irst came the collapse of civilization. Then anarchy, genocide, starvation … and the plague. Currently, the last scientists on earth are working on a cure, but hordes of chaos-loving pirates roam the streets, intent on keeping random survivors in New York City on the run and in fear. “I like the misery,” insists Fender Tremolo (Vincent Klyn, who essentially just growls throughout the entire picture), the leader of the savage thugs, who slits throats, crucifies bodies, and severs heads for entertainment.

Pearl Prophet (Dayle Haddon), a female cyborg with critical information about the plague, must get to Atlanta, where doctors can utilize the information stored in her brain. Before she’s captured by Fender, Pearl runs into Gibson Rickenbacker (Jean-Claude Van Damme, sporting a fictional moniker almost as ludicrous as his stage name), a mercenary guide known as a “slinger,” who recognizes the importance of the cyborg’s mission. He teams up with Nady Simmons (Deborah Richter) – the lone survivor of a small settlement that is torched by Fender just to acquire a boat – to trek through the Wasteland to intersect the pirates at the beach.

The story starts in the middle of the postapocalyptic predicament before slowly filling the audience in on Rickenbacker’s past, which oddly has nothing to do with the plague and everything to do with revenge against Fender. Flashbacks are prevalent and occasionally repeated, perplexingly arriving from multiple characters, as if “Cyborg” doesn’t know whose tale this is. Other moments look like dream sequences, muddying up the already disjointed, confusing narrative. Several roles are randomly introduced, then explained via flashbacks so that audiences won’t be completely lost. But it’s really all just a setup for martial arts combat, focusing on action over competent science-fiction. The beginning is nothing more than a foundation for a chase and a showdown, while the middle contradictorily appears to span months, with Rickenbacker recovering from wounds and traveling across the region to surprise his adversaries (despite their several-day head start). And the conclusion is merely a series of drawn-out, repetitive face-offs, which are so silly they’re hilarious.

Grandly graffiti-ridden cement structures, dilapidated steel erections, and humid sewers provide effective playgrounds for slow-motion fight sequences with fittingly comical choreography. A few amusing camera angles further embellish what could have been very average fight sequences. The costume designs are obvious rip-offs from “The Road Warrior,” “Conan the Barbarian,” and “The Terminator” (other ideas are even stolen from director Albert Pyun’s own “The Sword and the Sorcerer”), while the acting comparably consists of grimaces and macho posturing. The dialogue never gets in the way, as most characters only utter war cries or single-word acknowledgements. Ironically enough, the most believable cyborg is Van Damme … in his role as a human.

– Mike Massie

  • 3/10