Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Cyborg: Director’s cut (1989)
First of all, I’ll have to confess that it was ages since I saw Albert Pyun’s Cyborg. It could be as far back as VHS! I’ve always been a big fan of the Pyunster, but for a while – a few years – I had a surprisingly dislike for Jean-Claude Van Damme, and I think this helped me stay away from Cyborg even longer. Nowadays I worship Van Damme, even his bad movies, and really appreciate this work as a fighter AND actor. So when I got the chance to own the director’s cut of Cyborg on DVD I also felt that the time was right for a revisit.
Originally titled Slinger by Pyun (which is a more appropriate title), this starts of dark and gets even dark the further it goes. Rickenbacker, the character played by Van Damme, is hanging crucified on a desolate place, rambling. And then the story starts. The idea is not original by itself, a lone mercenary transporting (or protecting) something important through a dangerous trip, but I must say that Pyun really succeeds in giving Cyborg a very bleak look at the future. The music, by Tony Riparetti, helps a lot with setting the tone, for example. The “drama”, which is there is more of than action, is slow and low-key, with a refreshingly lack of boring dialogue. But when the action hits, it hits hard and brutal and fast. It’s also quite bloody, but it’s nothing compared to todays bloodshed in cinemas.
It gets a bit confused story-wise with the leading ladies, but Van Damme is such an important presence that they story lean on him when getting to complicated regarding characters. Rickenbacker is, after all, us a lone samurai directly from one of those Japanese classics. Haunted by his past and filled with revenge. He pretends to have a very objective view at life, when he in secret actually cares more than he will let us believe.
One of the finest sequences in the movie (together with the wonderful stop-motion cyborg, I guess its stop-motion…) is the action scene in the rundown building out in the forest, high up above the tree-tops. Because it was such a long time ago since I saw the released cut I have no idea if this scene was re-edited, and if it was – it’s a damn scandal. This is ultra-stylish, über-violent and just beautiful to watch. All fight scenes are very effective, but everything in this scene stands out from the rest. The end fight is also excellent, and I’m one of those suckers that like hunks fighting in the rain with knifes – can it be more romantic?
The director’s cut is visually a masterpiece, and I wish this version was the version out officially. Now it’s not the case, but even this rough version – with several different ratios, uneven colors and sound and of course VHS-quality (which most of the time is good, no problem with that, but there’s a few non-action scenes which has at least a couple of generations crappier quality) – is such a cool, violent and excellent post-apocalyptic movie. I’m not sure I like the look of those flashbacks to the idyllic house, it takes away some of the magic in those scenes, but it also strengthens the dread in the rest of the movie.
I need to go back to the non-Pyun version too see what’s different, but for me this is the THE version to watch from now on. I can’t imagine it can be a better movie than this.