Created in the malestrom of Cannon's death throes, Albert Pyun was commissioned by Yoram Globus and Menahem Golan to make a movie using the the sets built for the (sadly) aborted sequel to MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987) starring Dolph Lundgren. Ironically Pyun cast Jean Claude Van Damme to star in his now iconic dystopian, post-holocaust fusing of hard sci-fi and kickboxing action. Ironic since Lungren and Van Damme would, only a few years later, go on to star together in the hugely successful sci-fi / action epic UNIVERSAL SOLDIER (1992). Albert Pyun's CYBORG (1989) was not only a smashing success during its limited theatrical run, but went on to staggering popularity on video and cable. Of course this sort of cash-wallowing does not go unnoticed in Hollywood and a sequel finally ensued.
After Cannon was drawn and quartered, MGM ended up with the rights to CYBORG, but somehow Trimark managed to end up with the rights to a sequel. How this happened seems to be a factoid lost to time, but suffice it to say, they were going to make the most of it. CYBORG was reportedly made for a paltry $500,000, which I don't think would even cover Van Damme's coke debts on the set of STREET FIGHTER (1994). CYBORG 2: GLASS SHADOW (1993) on the other hand was reportedly budgeted at ten times that amount, making it a substantial production for an era of DTV action.
|*Sigh* ...another day at the office.|
|Koteas contemplates his career.|
Directed by veteran second unit / first assistant director Michael Schroeder, the man sure knows how to make a film look good and you have to give him credit for not doing a mindless rehash of Pyun's certified classic, but I'm not sure he actually wants to make a cyborg film at all. The bulk of the film is Cash and Colt being relentlessly pursued through a BLADE RUNNER / MAX HEADROOM / JUDGE DREDD vision of the future by a hitman (Billy Drago) dressed up like a '40s era gangster, complete with waistcoat and cravat. Not that this is a bad thing at all, I really don't mind the patchwork of sci-fi influences in low-budget films, however it seems that Schroeder is really interested in the tragic romance between Man and Machine and spends so much time with long gazes into eyes, long winded emotional dialogues and sappy, sentimental sequences with tender piano and violin music that the film not only drags to a grinding halt, but really starts to chafe. Even worse, the straight dialogue scenes are simply cringe-inducing. For example this exchange between Sheperd's allegedly Chinese assassin and Koteas' marble-mouthed wannabe Robert Deniro:
Chen: "So tell me what's worse... Cyborg envy, or human envy?"
Colt: "Penis envy?" (big goofy grin) "Huh?"
Schoeder to his credit has an eye for great widescreen shots and throws in cool little details here and there, even sporting an obligatory (for the era) underground fighting tournament of death. Even so, in the end it still feels like he just wants to do the whole BLADE RUNNER romance angle and if he had his way, the film wouldn't have any action in it at all. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that once again, we have the beautiful and badass Karen Sheperd's mad skills being completely wasted. In the one scene we get of her putting the boots to Koteas, it's a jumbled mess of close-ups and jumpcuts. Wouldn't want to mess up Koteas' purdy mug, I guess. The most damning thing is Jolie and Koteas have zero charisma and their dishwater dull performances are what really takes this would be epic off-line.
CYBORG 3... Next!