Blu-ray Review: Cyborg (Collector’s Edition)

When a big studio gives up on a film in pre-production, the studio has the sets destroyed and they figure out how to claim a tax loss and deny more net points on other productions. When Cannon Films had to pull the plug on both The Amazing Spider-Man and their sequel to Masters of the Universe, they had no intention to trash the sets down in Wilmington, North Carolina. Instead they told Albert Pyun (Captain America) to write a script that incorporated the sets. This isn’t the first time a location has dictated a film. Corman had pulled it off with Little Shop of Horrors. Pyun came up with a tale of a post-apocalyptic action where people are named after brand names of musical instruments. Jean-Claude Van Damme had his break out role in Cannon’s Bloodsport so they were eager to get him into another film. Cyborg: Collector’s Edition contains this recipe for a futuristic beatdown.

Civilization has ceased with the outbreak of a deadly virus that has ravaged humanity. Deep in Atlanta at the Center for Disease Control, scientists think they can achieve a cure if they can get a cyborg to retrieve necessary information from New York City. Pearl Prophet (Max Headroom‘s Dayle Haddon) agrees to become that cyborg. But the trip to Manhattan goes bad because Fender Tremolo (Point Break‘s Vincent Klyn) enjoys a world in chaos and collapse. Before the cyborg is unplugged, she’s saved by Gibson Rickenbacker (Jean-Claude Van Damme). But salvation doesn’t last long as Gibson is trapped under a collapsing building. Fender takes Pearl hostage to Atlanta supposedly to get the cure. Gibson follows them to rescue them. Along the way he befriends Nady Simmons (Gorp‘sDeborah Richter). But are they really enough to defeat Fender and his vicious team of post-apocalyptic warriors?

Cyborg does a really good job of using the sets. This is a plus since many Cannon films had their budget vanish during production so there wasn’t much money for sets or dressing in the final act. Once you get over the fact that the characters sound like they were named by the kid who hangs out at the Guitar Center, this is some fine low budget action. Van Damme nails the role of a loner out for revenge on Fender. Luckily he’s not one of the scientists which makes everything kinda believable. The scene where Fender has him nailed to a ship’s mast is rather impressive in how it’s pulled off and how it will upset your Holy Roller Aunt Anna. This was a great follow up vehicle for Van Damme after Bloodsport. Cannon didn’t merely salvage its sets, but solidified Jean-Claude Van Damme’s status as the new action hero as the ’90s approached.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. You get a glimpse of what Cannon’s Amazing Spider-Man would have looked like which makes you really happy they ended up used in Cyborg instead. The 1080p transfer brings out the apocalypse. Audio is DTS-HD Master Audio Stereo. The levels bring out the bone crunching sound effects. The movie is subtitled.

Audio Commentary with Albert Pyun allows him to breakdown the on screen mayhem. Pyun had a completely different film in post-production.

A Ravaged Future: The Making of Cyborg (29:40) gets deep into the production with director Albert Pyun and actors Deborah Richter and Vincent Klyn. The big take away was the Pyun wanted to cast surfer Laird Hamilton as the villain, but it didn’t work out. Lucky Klyn is fine in the role of Fender.

Shoestring Fantasy: The Effects of Cyborg (11:57) reminds us that the key to a low budget science fiction film is low budget special effects. Christopher Warren talks of how he was inspired to work in the business since his dad won the Oscar for The Time Machine. Gene Warren Jr. talks about working on various budget projects at this shop. The shop was working on Vanna White’s Goddess of Love when Cyborg arrived. They used some leftover effects from Terminator.

Extended Interviews from Mark Hartley’s Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (63:34) is more tales from a great documentary. Make sure you see the original film. Albert Pyun talks about how his first meeting with Cannon led to him walking out with a script and orders to have it ready for production in a month. He gives a little background on Tobe Hooper’s Invaders From Mars screening for the bosses. There’s also more questions for screenwriter Shelton Lettich. He talks about how he had to retool Cyborg to cut back the laughter. They had to come up with new lines that were stuck into the film with ADR instead of reshoots.

Theatrical Trailer (1:31) welcomes us to the not too distant future. Seeing how the film is almost 30 years old, we still haven’t hit that future yet.

Still Gallery (4:39) are photos from the set including a lot of pumped up Van Damme.

Scream Factory presents Cyborg: Collector’s Edition. Directed by: Albert Pyun. Screenplay by: Albert Pyun. Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dayle Haddon, Deborah Richter & Vincent Klyn. Rated: R. Running Time: 86 minutes. Released: April 24, 2018.

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