“In the future, it pays to be more than human.”
Inflicted by Albert Pyun
Starring Olivier Gruner, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tim Thomerson and Brion James
Right. Alex is a cop, see, and he’s hunting these terrorists called the Red Army Hammerheads. The RAH are cyborgs. Or maybe they don’t like cyborgs. Anyway, Alex gets shot up by them and has to have even more of his meaty bits replaced with robot parts. He pursues his quest for vengeance to “Baja, New America,” where he guns down the people who shot him up. He then confronts the LAPD types who follow him, and tells them he’s quitting.
Good so far?
More time passes, and we find Alex eking out a mercenary lifestyle in the “New Rio net.” He gets bushwhacked by a cyborg and taken to confront his LAPD boss (Tim Thomerson) and his inexplicably European minions. They tell him he’s got a bomb in him and send him off to Java or somewhere to track down some terrorists. Or something. A chip with his ex-girlfriend’s personality (Personality is a pretty strong term for it – The Prophet) on it comes into it somewhere. Surprise surprise, Tim Thomerson was the baddie all along, being in actuality an evil cyborg who replaced the real Tim Thomerson and who now chases Alex and this girl he just met all over hell and gone, shooting at them with an arsenal of high-tech waprons.
Yes, waprons. Goodness defeats wickedness, hurrah hurrah.
What’s wrong with it?
Olivier Gruner fails to bring the necessary tenderness and humanity to his role as a none-too-bright robot. Special effects are crude, fight scenes are stilted and dull, and the love interest was obviously sleeping with the director, which just goes to show that if your name is Albert Pyun, even being a Hollywood director is not enough to get the really pretty girls. He’s going to have to start dealing coke.
What’s right with it?
Uh, some of the scenery is kind of nice, I guess, when they’re in the south pacific. And Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is funny as a tropical gangster. But he’s not in it for long.
How bad is it really?
I saw this movie with Happyfett and our friend Tim, and those hardened veterans were ready to gnaw their own legs off to get away. And Happyfett wasn’t even drinking.
Best bit (if such there is)?
Alex and girl-he-just-met fly away from robo-Thomerson in a plane on strings. But the villain clings to the bottom and clambers up to attack! In the ensuing struggle (which is all done in stop-motion; it’s kind of like watching Jack Skellington kick King Kong’s ass), robo-Thomerson grabs Gruner’s head and scrapes it against the plane’s torn bulkhead, peeling the skin off his forehead, revealing gleaming metal beneath!. Course, we already knew Alex was a cyborg, so it’s really not that big a deal.
What’s up with…?
- “cyborg” meaning “robot” in this world?
- the New Rio net? It’s totally inexcusable that this was not called “neo-Rio.”
- “Baja, New America?” “Baja” just means “lower.” Baja what? I mean, yeah, OK, people call Baja California “Baja” for short, but that’s still not its name.
- the LAPD’s incredible expanding jurisdiction? Not only do they send Alex to chase crooks in Bora Bora or wherever, but when he gets there the crooks are hiding from the LAPD.
- the haircuts? Whenever Pyun needs to tell us that time has passed, he changes Alex’s haircut, from Moe-cut to mullet to low-top fade. He’s like a one-man Kid ‘n’ Play of the future.
- the Red Army Hammerheads? I think I saw them opening for Midnight Sunstone Bazooka.
- gunheads? The cyborg superweapon is this titchy little gun that emerges slowly from the machine’s head. Wouldn’t a pistol just be more efficient?
- The wapron? It’s this titchy little gun that blows robo-Thomerson into robo-smithereens. Of course, he gets back up, but it’s a very big blast for such a small wapron.
- Albert Pyun’s strange need to dump tons of backstory on us before the chasing can begin? It’s not like anyone gives a crap about Alex’s motivations.
Production values: Poor, even allowing for it being 1993. Unforgivable in areas like props and armoury, which aren’t that expensive. 17
Dialogue and performances: Nope. 15
Plot and execution: Remember Blade Runner? Well, imagine if it sucked. 17
Randomness: Well, if you mean “random” in the sense of “proceeds with no rhyme or reason” then, well, yeah. 15
Waste of potential: The relationship between humanity and technology has been the basis of many great stories. This is not one of them. 13