Friday, December 18, 2015

Cyborg!


Cyborg is a comic book I did not know existed until I chanced across this cover at the wonderful Grand Comics Database. Apparently the artists are two guys, one named Van Clease and the other Von Sholly, who I suppose is Pete Von Sholly. This scene is similar yet different from the poster for this grand epic from a time when sci-fi was prowling the now largely defunct video stores of this country, popping up throughout the benighted wilderness first in this tanning salon and then in that pizza joint.


What I love about this poster, is that Jean Claude Van Damme, a young and largely unintelligible action star is hyped both here and on the comic cover as the "The Star of Bloodsport", a movie which itself is a denizen of the trends of the 80's.

Seeing the poster, I always thought the guy in the front and center of the gang of toughs was the "cyborg" referenced in the title of the movie, but of course he's not as the comic book cover reveals.  This is a low-budget actioner typical of the period which sought to take advantage of the surge in sci-fi interest created first by the  business-model altering Star Wars franchise and more specifically the later successful Terminator movie. In this movie which blends the Terminator dynamic with the older gang-fighting Warriors movie, we get an apocalyptic setting ripe with dead automobiles, crumbling architecture, abandoned metal implements, and a weird wide-ranging amount of random plastic sheeting.

The best you can say about Cyborg is that it is diverting, a middle-of-the-road sci-fi adventure with actors who can chew scenery with the best of them. Van Damme got to be a better actor, his best film to my mind is the one he made with John Woo titled Hard Target. But Cyborg ain't terrible.

What it did do was spawn sequels, two different sets of sequels in fact.


First we have Cyborg 2 starring Angelina Jolie and the always delightful Jack Palance which really doesn't have much to do with the first film despite  shoehorning in scenes from the first.


And then we have Cyborg 3: The Recycler which stars some great faces but is really a rather dreary little movie, though as always the late Richard Lynch, a B-Movie legend does his best.


Then from director Albert Pyun we get first Knights in 1993. It looks terrible, but I'm a sucker of sorts for Lance Henrickson, one of the best faces in cinema.


And later Omega-Doom in 1997 starring Rutger Hauer, an actor who always delivers something extra in most every role I've seen him in. I've not seen either of these later Cyborg sequels though.

Other than a few interpolated scenes Jean Claude Van Damme is in none of these, but it does suggest how voracious the populace is for sci-fi adventure that this franchise could thrive in such curious and diverse ways.

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4 comments:

  1. That comic cover looks dreadful to me, Rip, especially the rather bland blurbs with typeset lettering. I don't think I'll be seeking it out. I remember Lee Mayors being interviewed about 'The Six Million Dollar Man' in one of the '70s Atlas b&w magazines. The interview was either recorded and transcribed later or conducted by telephone, because when he says that the TV show was based on Martin Caidin's 'Cyborg', it's rendered as 'Sideboard'. Oh dear.

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    1. It has that generic look of comics from the late 80's B&W boom, and I was most intrigued by the similarity to the poster, the fact Von Sholly did the art, and that there was actually an attempt to brand some comics with the Cannon film name.

      I don't think this is one I'd care to own though.

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  2. I don’t know that the penultimate cyborg movie has been made yet. Always thought Buckler/Moench’s Deathlock would have made a better movie than the comic ever was. Particularly with Luther Manning’s gruff personality & inner-voice at odds and in conflict with the computer voice(s) in his head. If this could be pulled off clearly in a non-confusing manner – that would really be something different and fresh - and would have much to say about the mechanization and control of Humanity by artificial intelligence. In the hands of a skilled filmmaker – this could be brilliantly insightful.

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    1. Deathlok was a great movie to be made. I'd pay to see it but now Deathlok is part of the TV SHIELD mix so I guess that ship has sailed. Maybe in a decade we'll get a reboot -- appropriate enough.

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