Cyborg (1988): Collector’s Edition [Blu-Ray]

Albert Pyun’s “Cyborg” is a lot more famous for its back story and production woes than it is for the actual movie. There’s even the famous tale of how much of the sets and outfits for the characters were re-used from the cancelled “Spider-Man” movie, and sequel to “He-Man” that Golan Globus failed to finish. It’s a shame, because in the eighties when a whole sub-genre sprang from the success of “Mad Max,” we got a whole library of post apocalyptic action films with gritty warriors charged with saving mankind or something like a child or village. In a massive sub-genre of B grade copycats, “Cyborg” is one of the best.

Pyun’s “Cyborg” is still a fine and entertaining early vehicle for Jean Claude Van Damme who was at the beginning of his massive career and does a great job playing hero Gibson. We set down on a world that’s been ravaged by the apocalypse. After an unknown infection wipes out most of the world, and turns a lot of the population in to the undead, the remaining civilization has turned in to savage hunters and foragers. Gibson is a Slinger, a hired bounty hunter kind of warrior who hunts down pirates. Haunted by his past, he’s thrust in to a grand plot to protect a cyborg who holds the key to curing the horrible infection and restoring the world. But she’s being hunted by a horrible warrior known as Fender, who wants the cure to hold over everyone and rule the world with.

Known as “Slinger” internationally, “Cyborg” is a childhood favorite that I mostly remember as being a late night basic cable staple. A friend of my aunts was a hardcore action geek and every time he visited us he’d pop in a VHS of “Cyborg” recorded off of TNT, and we’d have a ball. Pyun’s movie is a tad disjointed and unevenly paced at times, but it’s an entertaining and action packed post apocalyptic ride. If you love the sub-genre as much as I do, you’ll enjoy the whole kit and caboodle as I did. There are savages, martial arts, stop motion cyborgs, zombies, Christ symbolism, gratuitous nudity, switchblades in boots, and even a rain soaked showdown. How can you not enjoy what Albert Pyun puts down for his audience?

Van Damme is fun as the silent warrior who has no choice but to stop this gang of pirates, and fate intervenes when he realizes Fender is also the man who murdered the only family he’d ever known. Van Damme is in prime physical shape and often times even resembles an anime character. Vincent Klyn is also intense as villain Fender. “Cyborg” is reliant on a heavy formula of hand to hand combat, and running, and it works as a simplistic bit of B grade science fiction that doesn’t try to re-invent the wheel. I’m glad that years later “Cyborg” is still a fun action movie you can watch with some beers and nachos.

Shout! produces a great Collector’s Edition in spite of not including the Director’s Cut, and the lack of Van Damme in the extras. There’s a full audio commentary with writer and director Alber Pyun, and “A Ravaged Feature: The Making of Cyborg.” At thirty minutes, this features Albert Pyun, Vincent Klyn, Deborah Richter and Terrie Batson, director of photography Philip Alan Waters and editor Rozanne Zingale, all of whom tell us how the film was made. Everything from how it was once a Masters of the Universe sequel, the huge problem with the editing process that promoted Van Damme to intervene, and much more.

It’s a fun look at such a novel film. “Shoestring Fantasy: The Effects Of Cyborg” is a twelve minute visit with visual effects supervisor Gene Warren Jr. , Go-Motion technician Christopher Warren and rotoscope artist Bret Mixon, all of whom discuss the neat special effects for the film including the green screen and stop motion work. At an hour in length there’s Expanded Interviews From Mark Hartley’s Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films” which garners unfiltered interviews with Albert Pyun and Sheldon Lettich. Finally there’s the original theatrical trailer, and a still gallery.