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By Richard Harrington
Washington Post Staff Writer
April 11, 1989


Albert Pyun
Jean-Claude Van Damme;
Deborah Richter;
Dayle Haddon
Under 17 restricted

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In "Cyborg," Jean-Claude Van Damme is "the first hero of the 21st century," but even if everyone's clothes look as if they're from a glam-metal close-out sale at Commander Salamander -- we are talking major silly future-fashion statements -- the 21st century itself looks like '70s New Jersey, a wasteland of eroding factories, auto junkyards and sub-urban angst. In any event, time and place are irrelevant, since "Cyborg" has nothing to do with the 21st century. It's just another martial arts film, all dressed up with no place to go.

Like most martial arts heroes, the squat, overmuscled Van Damme can barely mumble English, except for body English. As the cosmic Gibson Rickenbacker, he speaks softly and carries a big kick, not to mention the punch and the occasional weapon, though Van Damme is so clever he often makes villains kill themselves with their own weapons.

As you may recall, it's the 21st century, postapocalypse, and those few people left in the world are dealing not only with inept film producers (Cannon's Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus) and uninspired directors (Albert Pyun), but with the plague. Actually, they may all be related.

In any event, a Cyborg (Dayle Haddon) is programmed with information for a possible cure, but before she can return to Atlanta (apparently still the Centers for Disease Control in the next century), she is kidnaped by the infinitely evil Fender Tremolo (Vincent Klyn, the latest in a series of steroid-based bad guys with odd teeth, wicked eyes and processed voices).

Gibson sets out to rescue her. Naturally, it turns out that many years ago Fender raped Gibson's wife, killed her and his son and kidnaped his daughter, who has been brainwashed and is now a member of Fender's gang. Battling Fender's muscle-boundcronies as well as incessant flashbacks, Gibson works his way to a rainy-day showdown with Fender himself. Since other characters also carry instrument-makers' names (Prophet, Roland, etc.), maybe this should have been a battle of the bands.

Van Damme and Klyn may be the year's most ridiculous adversaries, so it's best to perceive of "Cyborg" as a comedy and just go with it. Still, scriptwriter Kitty Chalmers really should have called it "Replicant," since "Cyborg" borrows bits and pieces from so many genre films and since it has really no soul of its own.

"Cyborg" is rated R and contains martial arts violence.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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