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Cyborg is a 1989 post-apocalyptic action film starring Jean Claude Van Damme as Gibson Rickenbacker. Rickenbacker battles a gang of marauding thugs led by Fender Tremolo, played by professional-surfer-turned-actor and co-star Vincent Klyn on his debut.
The film starts After the End, in a world that has been shattered by war, the collapse of civilization, and just for fun, a plague ravaging the survivors. The titular cyborg, Pearl, has been sent from Atlanta to New York City to retrieve information for a group of scientists and doctors looking to both cure the plague and start restoring society. Unfortunately, Fender learns of the mission and moves to intercept Pearl and her bodyguard. The bodyguard is killed, letting Pearl escape just long enough to encounter Gibson for the first time. Gibson is normally a mercenary who fights bandits like Fender's gang, but he's already hunting Fender for personal reasons.
Gibson and Pearl get separated by a couple of Fender's mooks, and Fender offers to escort her back to Atlanta, where he plans to steal the cure for the plague and kill the holdouts. Pearl agrees, hoping that the resources of her superiors will enable them to kill Fender's group when they arrive, and in the meantime Gibson tracks them and is joined by Nady, a survivor of Fender's raids who is similarly determined to put an end to the gang leader.
Directed by Albert Pyun and produced by the infamous late 80's and early 90's Cannon Films, it is considered one of Pyun's most mainstream and commercially successful films. Had two sequels, but In Name Only. The first sequel marks Angelina Jolie's debut.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: At one point Gibson tries to escape from Fender's gang in one. Amusingly, the opening to said sewer looks like it would probably be too narrow for Fender's crew of evil bodybuilders.
- After the End: "First there was the collapse of civilization... anarchy, genocide, starvation... then we got the plague."
- Awesome but Impractical: Gibson's gun, which seems to be a hybrid of a pistol, a shotgun, and a mini-gun. Looks cool and post-apocalyptic. Too bad the gun offers no other way of holding it besides grabbing it by the barrels of the mini-gun itself, and the gun requires that one turns them manually after each shot. The barrels would be scorching hot after firing just a round, making it pretty useless unless one waits an hour or two for the barrels to cool off between shots.
- The Berserker: Most of Fender's "pirates" act like this.
- But for Me It Was Tuesday: The director's cut has Fendor asking Gibson who the hell he is on several occasions, so obviously Fender has no recollection of the horrors he inflicted on Gibson. In both versions, he finally seems to remember during the final fight scene.
- Camera Abuse
- The Cast Showoff: Van Damme's trademark leg split actually has a point on this movie, which also doubles as a Crowning Moment of Awesome. In addition to the innovative way it's used, it may be how he got out of the well that Fender threw him and his Love Interest into during Gibson's flashback.
- Cat Fight: At two different points Nady goes one on one with female pirates.
- Combat Pragmatist: Utilizing concealed weapons, sneaking up on victims, and shooting knife wielding opponents are all specialties of Gibson.
- Cyborg: Pearl Prophet.
- Dolled-Up Installment: As Troubled Production says, it partly originated from a Masters of the Universe sequel. Some TV stations still give the film's title as Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg.
- Eye Scream: An actor lost an eye after being accidentally stabbed with a prop knife -- and it is apparently on the film.
- Faux Action Girl: Nady tries her best but is constantly captured and knocked out over the course of the film. Granted, she manages to take down some mooks, but it often ends with her knocked out as well. And then she gets stabbed in the final fight for her trouble.
- Flash Back: Used to explain why Gibson pursues Fender.
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Gibson leaves Fender impaled on a large meat hook by the end of the movie's climatic fight
- Invincible Hero: Averted. Gibson is a skilled fighter and a first class Determinator, but suffers a number of defeats and setbacks, including being badly beaten in his first fight against Fender before being left to die nailed to a cross.
- It's Personal
- Knife Nut: Gibson. Complete with enough Kukris to make a Gurkha unit squee in delight.
- Left for Dead: Fender's crew leave Gibson for dead three times, once in a flashback, and twice in the present. The first time in the present was really gratuitous, as there was no reason not to verify that Gibson was really dead.
- MacGuffin: The information Pearl was sent to get. Pearl herself becomes a Living MacGuffin.
- Made of Explodium: Shortly before the movie's climatic battle, Gibson sets one of Fender's mooks on fire. The mook then limps and falls on the bonnet of an old, abandoned, and rusty car -- and the whole car explodes.
- Musical Theme Naming: Most characters are named after guitars and manufacturers. Gibson Rickenbacker, Fender Tremolo, Marshall Strat, Les (Paul), Pearl Prophet...
- Papa Wolf: Gibson
- Prop Recycling: See Troubled Production.
- Raised by Orcs: When Gibson and his Love Interest lived together, she already had two children, a boy and a girl. Over time, Gibson came to regard them as being like his own. Then Fender and his gang came along, threw Gibson, the Love Interest and her son into a well, and took the girl. Gibson encounters her in the present, grown up, and probably having served as Fender's slave/toy for all those years.
- The Remake: Gangland, an extremely rare and ultra-low budget Direct to Video release from 2000. Starring Costas Mandylor, Sasha Mitchell, and Vincent Klyn in an identical role. Just imagine Cyborg without the titular cyborg.
- Retired Badass: Gibson was this, until Fender and his goons trashed his life and forced him back out of retirement, looking for revenge.
- The Reveal: Gibson's motivation. Both of them.
- Same Language Dub: All of Vincent Klyn's dialogue was dubbed by an uncredited actor.
- Scavenger World/Schizo-Tech
- Screaming Warrior: Fender and Gibson turn it Up to Eleven in the movie's climatic battle, but it's there throughout. Screaming happens consistently in fight scenes, or with bad guys chasing the good guys, or vice versa, etc.
- Shirtless Scene: Van Damme, several times throughout the film, especially towards the end, during the penultimate fight with Fender.
- Slasher Smile: Fender in Gibson's flashback
- Sleeper Hit: The budget was of roughly $500,000. The gross revenue was $29,866,459. Even if one takes in account the two million dollars spent on Prop Recycling, those are healthy numbers.
- Tap on the Head: Nady is knocked out at least 4 separate times, (in a movie whose running time is slightly under an hour and a half) and suffers no ill effects. Gibson is knocked out twice himself.
- Troubled Backstory Flashback
- Troubled Production: And how!
Back on the early and late 80's, Cannon Films was planning on making both a Spider-Man film and a sequel to Masters of the Universe. Albert Pyun was at the helm of both projects, with plans of filming them back to back. However, after more than a dozen re-writes and an investment of two million in pre-production and very early production, Cannon Films began to lose money fast. It eventually lost the rights for both franchises.
Wanting to recuperate some of the money and time invested, Albert Pyun was tasked to come with a project that could use the production assets like sets and costumes of both failed projects. Pyun came up with the story in a weekend. $500,000 dollars and 24 days of frenetic shooting and editing later, Cyborg was released.
- Unstoppable Rage: Gibson in the movie's climatic fight. The guy gets thrown through a CAR and that only makes him angrier.
- What Could Have Been: The script was written with the idea of Chuck Norris playing the lead, but co-producer Menahem Golan cast Jean-Claude Van Damme instead for still unknown reasons.
- You Remind Me of X: Never spelled out, but in their first encounter Gibson claims he tried to help Pearl because for a second he thought she was someone else- his girlfriend, who was murdered by Fender.