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Gibson Rickenbacker is a hired fighter living in a plague-ravaged apocalyptic America where a plague has infested most of the United States and the rest of the world. In New York City, Gibson encounters a woman named Pearl Prophet. Pearl reveals to Gibson that she is a cyborg who is carrying vital-information for a group of scientists in Atlanta who are working on a cure to the plague and Pearl hires Gibson to escort her back to Atlanta. But Pearl is kidnapped by "Pirates" a murderous gang led by Fender Tremolo, who wants the cure for themselves and they decide to take Pearl to Atlanta themselves. Gibson, joined by a young woman named Nady Simmons, goes in pursuit of Fender and his gang, as Gibson sets out to rescue Pearl, stop Fender and his gang from reaching Atlanta and defeat Fender who slaughtered Gibson's family
For more about Cyborg and the Cyborg Blu-ray release, see Cyborg Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 8, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Deborah Richter, Vincent Klyn, Dayle Haddon
Director: Albert Pyun
» See full cast & crew
Cyborg Blu-ray Review
A great under-the-radar Sci-Fi/Action flick finds a home on Blu-ray with strong picture quality.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 8, 2012
I like the death. I like the misery.
Director Albert Pyun often falls into that chastised/derided director category, a filmmaker whose pictures earn a bad rap in cinema circles, are usually met with ridicule from more demanding viewers, and are sometimes even brushed off by some casual audiences influenced by the more vocal of the highbrow critics. At best it would seem Pyun's name has become synonymous with "mediocrity," but if there's a diamond in the Albert Pyun canon rough it's Cyborg, a simple but stylish, straightforward, and hugely effective post-apocalyptic Action flick made well ahead of its time before end-of-the-world material was all the rage in entrainment, filmed and printed both. The picture finds a lot of muscle and mileage out of a tiny budget and a script largely devoid of depth. Pyun squeezes every last ounce of potential from the material and the result is a highly entertaining, surprisingly well-made, and nicely acted little gem that should be the envy of small Action movies everywhere.
In a desolate, destroyed world ravaged by plague and overrun by gangs, a cyborg named Pearl Prophet (Dayle Haddon) is tasked with delivering sensitive information -- a potential cure for the plague -- to Atlanta, home of the Centers for Disease Control. When her guardian is killed by a ruthless gang led by the nefarious Fender (Vincent Klyn), she teams up with a reluctant hero, a "slinger" named Gibson Rickenbacker (Jean-Claude Van Damme), to protect her from the thugs who will do anything to maintain the status quo in which they wield so much power through muscle, intimidation, fear, and a total absence of morals. Gibson fails to keep Prophet out of Fender's hands; as Fender and his cyborg prize travel down the Atlantic coast by boat, Gibson and a tagalong named Nady (Deborah Richter), a survivor from one of Fender's bloody raids, keep ahead on shore. With time running out, the race to Atlanta is on and the future of mankind hangs in the balance. For Gibson, however, the task isn't so noble; he's out not to save the world but rather for personal revenge against an old enemy.
Cyborg masks its budget shortcomings with relentless energy; a quality score that mixes up-tempo beats with an underlying sense of dread, danger, and despair; strong acting of fairly well-designed lead characters; and a breakneck pace. The picture literally bursts open after a brief stage-setting monologue and never lets up save for a few simple but crucial character background moments that lend some depth and urgency to the running confrontation between Gibson and Fender and that drive motivations and allegiances. This interconnected backstory is effectively compiled through a few brief and well-done flashbacks that even in a handful slower moments maintain the same rhythm and style of the rest of the film. Otherwise, the movie is all about frenzied intensity and stamina, about getting the absolute most from a small budget, about entertaining audiences through a fairly dark dramatic prism, across a desolate landscape, and through rugged and worn characters. Cyborg oozes style and a "cool" factor that's not often achieved with movies of such limited means. Pyun's photography gets more than seems possible from locations and performances, and he gives the movie a largely personal feel that injects the audience into the hopelessness, isolation, and decay of a post-apocalyptic landscape that's obviously limited in scope but nevertheless visually effective and largely convincing. The action is robust, dialogue is minimal, and the movie never betrays a dark and dangerous tone, remaining modest in many ways but making the most of every last detail and element at its disposal.
Indeed, the filmmakers with include Van Damme in the final editing room -- are to be commended for making such a great little movie out of so few resources. They craft the film through a strong vision for the story, a script that's less about words and more about mood and action, a great score, Jean-Claude Van Damme's presence, and smart use of location. Abandoned buildings and ravaged streets haunt many crucial scenes, and even the convincing appearance of worn clothes, rusted blades, and even layered dust on Fender's sunglasses and a few choice gothic/terror shots produce a quality environment at minimal cost, a post-apocalyptic landscape that feels larger than it is, that feels very much worn down, depraved, and real. What the picture lacks in scope it makes up for in raw intensity, violence, and mood. It's effectively dark though often bathed in daylight, at least until a clichéd final action sequence that's one of the movie's weaker moments, a somewhat dull fight scene taking place at night, through torrential downpour, and with a lot of raw, primal screams and muscle flexes that do get the adrenaline pumping. Yet the end still maintains the same character intensity and quality acting that define the rest of the film; it's just that something a little more imaginative would have fit better into the whole. To be sure this isn't award-winning stuff, but the leads are highly effective in shaping what are superficially one-dimensional characters but with a little depth provided in those flashbacks, depth that does shape them with a bit more meaning and history in the pursuit of adding motive and dramatically intensifying the fight scenes. Van Damme is strong in a largely silent effort; he exudes a sense of cool, cool under pressure and just cool in how he carries himself. Vincent Klyn is quite good as the menacing Fender, the devil personified, an actor effectively performing a character who epitomizes the entire Cyborg experience: basic yet highly effective.
Cyborg Blu-ray, Video Quality
Cyborg is the sort of movie one might expect to be shoveled onto Blu-ray with little thought -- MGM has countless more historically significant and better-received movies than this to worry about -- but the transfer is actually quite good and fans should be elated with the results. The transfer displays sharp, natural, film-like details. There's no evidence of major noise reduction, leaving facial lines, war-torn textures, and clothes natural and very well defined. Even the finest bit of dust on Fender's sunglasses is made clearly visible. The image is clean, covered by light grain but with no excess wear or, better, major digital tinkering. There are certainly a few hazy and soft shots -- notably when Gibson first meets Pearl -- but generally the image borders on striking, particularly compared to older VHS and DVD releases. Colors are excellent as well. Splashes of green veneration play nicely against what is otherwise a fairly barren and gray assortment of hues across landscapes, industrial backdrops, and clothing. Flesh tones are fine, and blacks are good, too, not too overpowering or too bright but a little noisier than some might like. On the whole, however, this is a very good image that should delight longtime fans.
Cyborg Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Cyborg's audio soundtrack isn't quite as revealing as MGM's video presentation. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless soundtrack leves a bit to be desired all around. It's somewhat subdued and not exactly the sort of experience one might want paired with an Action movie. There's minimal energy to every element, but the front-end spacing suffices and clarity is acceptable. Some of the deeper musical elements prove satisfying on a general level, but the absence of a fuller stage, greater robustness, and attention to detail leave this one wanting and playing with an obvious lower-end feel. Gunshots are rather puny, the driving rain at the end is only basically effective, and ambient effects are minimal, including the rather mushy and indistinct sound of a campfire and gently rolling ocean waves during a nighttime dialogue scene in chapter eight. However, dialogue is usually centered and suitably clear and intelligible. This track gets the job done, but those hoping for a more revelatory sonic experience will be disappointed with what is a fairly nondescript sound experience.
Cyborg Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Unfortunately, the only included supplement is is the Cyborg trailer (HD, 1:30).
Cyborg Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
If one were to summarize Cyborg in a word, it would have to be "intensity." This isn't smart storytelling or Oscar-caliber filmmaking, but it's a remarkably strong movie with fine pacing, good characters, sufficient acting, a great score, robust action, strong photography, a convincing landscape, and relentless energy, all on a small budget. It's a movie that demonstrates the effectiveness of resource utilization, mood, music, and photography in masking budgetary shortcomings. It's also a good example of how style and screen presence can be substituted for excess dialogue and make a movie of this sort all the more dangerous and potent. Most of all, Cyborg is a fun ride with high replay value, one that with every viewing comes a reminder of how good it really is on a technical level and under budget constraint. It's too bad Pyun's director's cut probably will never find a home video release through a major label, but hopefully it will one day see the light of day on Blu-ray, one way or the other. Considering this cut's effectiveness, one can only wonder what the film might be like under what are some supposedly drastic changes. MGM's Blu-ray release of Cyborg features great video, adequate audio, and practically no extras. Recommended on the strengths of the film and the video transfer.
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Cyborg Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Three Jean-Claude Van Damme Films Heading to Blu-ray - July 28, 2012
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment have revealed that they are planning to bring to Blu-ray three action films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme: Albert Pyun's Cyborg (1989), Deran Sarafian's Death Warrant (1990), and Sheldon Lettich's Double Impact (1991). The preliminary ...
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