“Look what a ‘cyborg soldier’ flick did for a body-builder’s career in ‘84… I want some of that action!… Direct to video, huh? No problem… what? PG-13 you say? First Look Who? The hot Saved By the Bell chick’s still in it, right?”
Cast: Bruce Greenwood (OMGWTF???), Rich Franklin, Tiffani Thiessen
Director: John Stead
An ex Death Row inmate gets the Black Ops upgrade and is transmorphed into ISAAC, an “Intuitive Synthetic Autonomous Assault Commando”. Equipped with regenerative powers (thanks, nano-robotic technology!) and zero acting skills, this prototype super-soldier goes AWOL, dragging Kelly Kapowski along for the ride. Our clueless fugitives turn over obvious conspiracy rocks in between… driving scenes, phone and/or radio conversations, conference room briefings, hallway exposition, road-trip shenanigans, and way too much conflict/combat-avoidance??? Gripping! Hey, are you still readin’ this?
There wasn’t a dry eye in the studio after Montel Williams reunited the 2 long lost siblings.
If the word “cyborg” is in the title, I’ll watch it. Alien Agents, Trancers, Cyber-trackers, Replicants, and certainly the higher quality Terminators & Robocops… Even if (AKA most likely) the plot and performance are covered in cheese, this B-Action/sci-fi subgenre usually offers up plenty of ‘splosions, car chases, fire power, and animatronic body parts. Alas, all of these tropes would be in short supply in Cyborg Soldier. The “In Association with Nu Image” during the title credits had me slightly optimistic. Nu Image appears to be trying to take the spot as the new Cannon or PM Entertainment, but I guess they weren’t “In Association with” enough here.
“I’m sure she’s a sweet woman, and it does indeed ‘get you in the end’… but you might want to consider revising that ‘Death is like a box of dildos’ saying your Mom taught you… Awkward.”
Let’s be frank. Rich Franklin’s thesp-ertise makes Randy Couture look “Natural” by comparison. Despite playing the titular character, the former UFC middleweight champ’s a complete non-entity here. I’m not expecting a cyborg soldier (by double definition) to be emotional or charismatic, but I wondered if they kept a defibrillator handy on set for 2nd and 3rd takes. Rich fails to intimidate, gain sympathy, or entertain with his utterly vacant and flat-lining performance (which doubled as an onscreen analogue for the flat directorial “style”). Worse yet, the fights within the flick are so few and far between and over far too quickly, that his main proficiency is hardly showcased. Perhaps his screen presence will grow with experience, but so far, his movie record (compared to his MMA record) is a losing one. He’s no Arnie or Van Damme for sure, but I’m pretty positive he’s not the next Olivier Gruner either.
“You have GOT to be shitting me, Bernie! Cyborg Soldier??? Cy-borg SOLDIER? CYBORG Soldier? Cyborg. Soldier… Do you know how fired you are?”
SPOILERS ahead! There’s a brief escape scene at the beginning which contains glimpses of action. But nearly 35-40 minutes of “get on with it!” goes by till we see the 2 leads’ El Camino shot in the ass by a .50 caliber rifle and then rammed off a cliff. Then another stunt-less ½ hour falls asleep at the wheel until we witness Bruce “GET MY DAMN AGENT ON THE PHONE!” Greenwood (13 Days, I, Robot, Double Jeopardy) getting roughed up by a nosy female co-worker. The finale kicks it up a slight notch (cat fight, ocular cavity damage, building goes BOOM, etc) in the set-piece category, but at that point, it’s just too little too late. “They engineered the perfect fighter” (so says the hyperbolic tagline) and then spent the running time avoiding most situations where ISAAC could kick ass and take names.
“No, listen… Shh! There!… You hear it? That noise.. kinda like a… you know… one of those… whistling NERF footballs. No? Shh!… There! There! Right there!“
They lean pretty heavy into the “man discovering his past” and “redemption” territory and keep the soldier so far ahead of his pursuers (he’s perfect remember) that a healthy percentage of the cool subgenre mainstays get left in the dust as well. It’s mostly poorly written and poorly acted drama with a quick violent act peppered in here and there. Certainly no Wow! moments or unbelievable stunts. For those who may blame Franklin’s born-again Christian beliefs for this watered down approach, he does inflict violence on others in the octagon for a living. Also a cop-out, the nano-healing premise (which has the potential to be progressive gobbledygook,) is never used in any creative ways and only prevents me from seeing typically awesome robotic endoskeletons and puppet head-wounds (he’s just not that kinda cyborg). POSSIBLE RESPONSE? Frak you, assholes.
In spite of the soft PG-13 rating, there was:
· More than one group of people (including law enforcement) getting their chests ventilated by severe gunfire.
· ISAAC removing slugs from his pectorals with a knife.
· Mrs. Corporate Tight-Ass taking a bullet to the forehead.
· A sharp object introduced forcibly to the eye-socket of the “Brion James look-alike” (RIP) merc.
As far as recent pro-fighter-turned-actor migrations go, at least John Cena’s The Marine had Robert Patrick chewing on the “don’t worry, we’ll get around to blowing up that” scenery. Even The Condemned offered more. I’m shocked that this yawner doesn’t contain any of the trashy, yet fun, “guilty pleasure” elements that make watching one of these schlock-fests bearable. If you need a shot of super-soldier serum, do yourself a favor and track down Gary Daniel’s Rage instead, or throw in the JCVD/Dolph double-impact that is Universal Soldier (I can’t believe it’s been 16 years). This direct-to-DVD POS came from a post-apocalyptic future to terminate an hour and a half of my life. If only Michael Biehn were here to prevent me from watching this sub-Sci-Fi-Channel (yeah, it’s that worthless, even considering my low standards) time-waster.
A few dozen more of these red ones and Cyborg Snorer will be a distant memory.
Another sin: I’m aware that the movie took place in the winter and she might not be as fit/young as she once was, but they keep Tiffani Thiessen hidden beneath a bulky quilted flannel for the entire running time. Here’s Angelina Jolie’s love scene from Cyborg 2 to wash away that major stumble.
When the credits had finally rolled, I’d already devised a plan to genetically engineer a clone of myself, so I didn’t personally have to revisit my traumatizing viewing experience here in this review. My plan failed. Fortunately, beyond the feature, the disc itself doesn’t warrant any analysis. Ugly cover art. Perfunctory audio and video quality. No special features.
By the Nemesis of Pyun, Cyborg Soldier blows.
3 out of 10