Saturday, June 26, 2010

American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1993)

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Tagline:

Their battle will decide the fate of the human race... forever.

Back of DVD:

It's all in Thai language, so just watch the trailer below.

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Movie Review:

I liked Joe Lara's work in my last review, Armstrong, where he played the bad guy known only as "Ponytail". He was good in the role of a terrorist nutter so I wanted to see more of what he could do. Going through my recent acquisitions I realised I already had another - American Cyborg: Steel Warrior! And what's more it's a Cannon movie, so it's bound to be fantastic.

It's a post-apocalyptic Terminator style future. We are informed by a voiceover that seventeen years ago (we don't actually know when this movie is set) there was a nuclear war in which the machines won and enslaved the surviving humans. Sound familiar?. We are allowed to live out the rest of our days in run-down cities run by The System, and as all the women are now sterile there won't be any more of us to continue the species.

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But as always with us pesky humans, you just can't stop us from trying to breed. Scientists at work in an underground lab have successfully gotten a girl Mary (Nicole Hansen) pregnant and are now keeping her foetus in a jar to grow. I don't know why she couldn't keep it in her own jar (wink wink) but that's science for you - always making the simple difficult. The scientists are prepping a team of soldiers to take the foetus in a boat to Europe where humans have had better luck in overthrowing their new cyber-overlords and a healthier gene pool exists. The map indicates they will go to the port only a few clicks away and hop on board a boat.

Meanwhile a cyborg with bleach-blond hair and a bikers jacket (John Saint Ryan) receives orders from a computer kiosk in the street by plugging his finger into an outlet. The orders are to find and exterminate the human rebels. Somehow he locates the hidden lab and smashes his way in, blowing up everyone in his path with a huge machine gun. Mary and one other girl escape through the tunnels of the lab on to the street, but the cyborg follows and kills Mary's associate. Mary gets away but the cyborg retrieves the map from the dead girl and now knows where Mary is heading. It chases her through one of many abandoned factories in the movie but she manages to elude it again and drop an engine on its head. Problem solved.

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As she continues on to the port she is rumbled by a gang of sailors and transvestites. As she is about to be done in, a knife is thrown into the back of one of the thugs. Joe Lara (as 'Austin') appears and doing his best Van-Damme-in-Cyborg impression (of which this movie owes a huge debt) deals with all the degenerates swiftly and rescues Mary. Mary asks for his assistance in getting to the port but he politely declines "Pardon me lady, I have business to do." and goes to trade items at a local pawn shop. Mary manages to discretely tag along, but that only attracts the cyborg who has returned from the dead to finish her off. It's all very Terminator cat-and-mouse, and Austin manages to temporarily defeat the cyborg by stabbing it in the neck. The cyborg bleeds white goop just like the Bishop androids do and Mary and Austin escape into the sewers. Mary ultimately convinces Austin to stay with her by lying to him that waiting at the port is a shipment of radiation sickness drugs.

For a rip-off of quite a few post-apocalyptic movies, this is a pretty fun ride. I really don't know why it only has a 2.3 rating on IMDB, it's worthy of at least a 5 (or a solid 7 in bad-action ratings). Joe Lara is good in his role as Austin and John Saint Ryan plays as convincing a cyborg as Schwarzenegger does. He uses his glowing techno-eyes to detect footprint heat signatures and can even self repair, though his voice is more like a Cyberman and less like an Austrian. Mary holds her own against the cyborg just as well as Austin does.

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The movie goes on like this for a while - cyborg attacks, Austin and Mary kill it and escape, cyborg comes to life again - until Mary is captured by cannibals known as 'leeches' who have an Asteroids upright arcade cabinet for some reason (at least something good survived the nuclear holocaust). The cannibals are a bit like humanoid CHUDs and are eager to taste Mary, but Austin busts in and blows them all to hell. Then they have a romantic moment ("You've never been kissed before?").

There's plenty of action, shootouts and running around in abandoned warehouses and factories but there are not many laughs (except for the sailor muggers). There is a very nice soundtrack, which I don't usually say of 80's movies. It's a dark electro-classical-synth thing with choral chanting parts; it really suits the glum atmosphere of the movie well. The plot has been done before but I don't care, I get a kick out of these movies, particularly their dirty, broken industrial worlds filled with neon lights and hookers and smoke emanating from sewers. Think of this as Hardware on an even lesser budget. It's a Canon movie so by rights it's awesome, and one of the producers worked on JCVD's Cyborg, so that should help you align your expectations. Some of cinematography is really good too and I liked the use of drab colours contrasted with badly placed blue neon lighting tubes.

American Cyborg is ridiculous but is far more deserving of a better IMDB rating than this piece of shit. Another good one for Joe Lara.

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The Video:

This Thai DVD is pretty good quality, with a nice anamorphic print and generally clean audio (although I heard some clipping every now and then when people were shouting). The R1 I believe is only fullscreen so this disc is definitely a step up. The only issue is the manufacturers forgot to mark the video anamorphic bit, meaning that your equipment can't automatically work out if it's widescreen or not. All you need to do is go into your DVD setup and force 16:9 display. A bit annoying but nothing that can't be solved.

Sourced From:

Lawsons in the Sydney CBD for $5.

Trailer:

More Screens:

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3 comments:

  1. Really good review! I always wanted to see this movie...one day it will be purchased.

    Another great Joe Lara flick is "Hologram Man"

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the comments. I think I picked Hologram Man up as an ex-rental VHS! If I do have it, I'll be sure to review it soon, maybe the next review - though expect a review for Cuba Gooding Jr/Val Kilmer movie "Hardwired" to go up tonight. I had issues with getting screenshots of the DVD last night.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your blog is really wonderful.
    Congratulations.
    I collect this kind of movie.
    I've found a lot of them in torrents and youtube.
    I used to watch them in vhs tapes in Brazil.
    Yes, I am Brazilian, but I hate Brazilian movies.
    Well, I've got a torrent today.
    I became too glad because American Cyborg Steel Warrior, I've watched two times and there's no dvd to sell at Amazon.
    I've got a copy that it has english and russian audio and hard japanese subtitles.
    I can't understand bercause there are a lot ancient movies in dvd and these theme movies are frogotten.
    I love androids, robots, cyborgs, sci-fi and a lot of animes.
    Italian movies from 80's used these kind of movies.
    They are funny.
    Joe Lara reminds Miles O'Keeffe.
    It took me 3 hours looking for a valid torrent, but I have American Cyborg now.
    It was a russian torrent and very fast to download.
    CONGRATULATIONS for your nice blog.

    ReplyDelete

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