Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Albert Pyun|
|Produced by||Menahem Golan
|Written by||Kitty Chalmers|
|Starring||Jean-Claude Van Damme
|Music by||Lalo Schifrin
|Cinematography||Philip Alan Waters|
|Edited by||Scott Stevenson
|The Cannon Group|
|Running time||82 minutes|
Cyborg, known in the UK as Cyborg 009, is a 1989 American martial-arts science fiction film directed by Albert Pyun. Jean-Claude Van Damme stars as Gibson Rickenbacker, a mercenary who battles a group of murderous marauders led by Fender Tremolo (Vincent Klyn) along the East coast of the United States in a post-apocalyptic future. The film is the first film in Pyun's Cyborg trilogy (""Knights"" AKA ""The Kingdom of Metal: Cyborg Killer"" and ""Omega Doom"" are the other two).
A plague known as the living death cripples a civilization already ruined by “anarchy, genocide and starvation.” A small group of surviving scientists and doctors — located in Atlanta, Georgia, home of the CDC — work on a cure to save what’s left of humanity. To complete their work they need information stored on a computer system in New York City. Pearl Prophet (Dayle Haddon) volunteers for the dangerous courier mission and is made into a cyborg through surgical augmentation.
Pearl, accompanied by bodyguard Marshall Strat, retrieves the data in New York, but is pursued by the vicious Fender Tremolo (Vincent Klyn) and his gang of “pirates.” Fender wants the cure so he can have a monopoly on its production. Strat, badly injured while fighting the pirates, tells Pearl to leave him and get to the Bronx township in order to look for a mercenary, known as a “slinger,” who can escort her to safety. She gets cornered, but is saved by a slinger named Gibson Rickenbacker (Jean-Claude Van Damme). No sooner does she explain her situation, then they are overrun by Fender’s gang, and Gibson is knocked out by falling debris. Fender, having beheaded Strat, dangles his head in front of Pearl and tells her that he is going with her to Atlanta. There, she must bring him the cure or “get the horror show.”
Fender's gang slaughters a family and steals their boat. They head south for Atlanta via the Intracoastal Waterway with the captive Pearl. Gibson, who had been tracking the pirates, arrives at the scene of slaughter later that night. A shadowy figure moves to attack him, but he disables her. She turns out to be Nady Simmons (Deborah Richter), a young woman who’d been hiding since the pirate attack and thought Gibson was one of their gang. Nady reveals that her family was wiped out by the plague and that she wants to help Gibson and Pearl. Gibson is less concerned with a cure for the plague than with killing Fender. Gibson and Nady trek southward through the wastelands and are ambushed by bandits. He tries to persuade Nady to stay away, not wanting to see her die. She tells him she does not want to see him die either and offers herself to him, but he refuses: destroying Fender is all he cares about.
In flashbacks, it is revealed Gibson had once fallen in love and settled down in an abandoned country house with a client, Mary, and her two young siblings. Fender killed Mary and her brother and abducted her sister Haley, forcing Gibson to take up the slinger lifestyle once again.
Intercepting Fender and his crew near Charleston, South Carolina, Gibson defeats most of his men, but Fender shoots him with an air rifle. Now nursing a gunshot wound, Gibson realizes Haley is now a loyal member of Fender’s crew. He flees the pirates and ends up alone with Pearl and Nady. Pearl refuses to go with him — she calculates that Gibson is not strong enough to defeat Fender and will be unable to get her to Atlanta safely. She says she will go along with Fender and lure him to his death in Atlanta, where she has resources at her disposal.
Tired, wounded, and badly outnumbered, Gibson flees with Nady through the sewer into a salt marsh, where they are pursued by the rest of the pirates and eventually separated from each other in the boggy terrain. Gibson is thoroughly beaten by Fender and crucified high on the mast of a beached, derelict ship. Haley lingers at the scene, but leaves with Fender. Gibson spends the night on the cross. In the morning, near death, he kicks the mast repeatedly with his dangling foot in a last fit of rage. The mast snaps, sending him crashing to the ground, his arms still nailed to the cross. Finally, Nady appears out of the marsh to free him.
Gibson and Nady intercept Fender once again in Atlanta, this time better prepared. Fender’s gang is taken down one by one until he and Gibson face off. During their fight, Nady rushes Fender with a knife, but he stabs and kills her. Gibson in turn stabs Fender in the chest. Thinking him dead, Gibson embraces Haley. However, Fender gets back up, and they continue to battle in a nearby shed, where Gibson finally kills Fender by impaling him on a meat hook. Gibson and Haley escort Pearl to her final destination, before heading back "out there."
- Jean-Claude Van Damme as Gibson Rickenbacker
- Deborah Richter as Nady Simmons
- Vincent Klyn as Fender Tremolo
- Dayle Haddon as Pearl Prophet
- Alex Daniels as Marshall Strat
- Blaise Loong as Furman Vux / Pirate / Bandit
- Ralf Möller as Brick Bardo (as Rolf Muller)
- Haley Peterson as Haley
- Terrie Batson as Mary
- Jackson 'Rock' Pinckney as Tytus / Pirate
Cannon Films initially intended to make a sequel to the 1987 He-Man film Masters of the Universe and a live-action version of 'Spider-Man'. Both projects were planned to shoot simultaneously by Albert Pyun. Cannon, however, was in financial trouble and had to cancel deals with both Mattel and Marvel Entertainment, the owners of He-Man and Spider-Man, respectively. Cannon had already spent $2 million on costumes and sets for both films, and decided to start a new project to recoup the money spent on them. Then Pyun wrote the storyline for Cyborg in one weekend. Pyun had Chuck Norris in mind for the lead, but co-producer Menahem Golan cast Jean-Claude Van Damme. The film was shot for less than $500,000 and was filmed in 24 days. The film was shot in 23 days in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Several of the characters' names are references to well-known manufacturers and models of guitars and other musical instruments.
Jackson "Rock" Pinckney, who played one of Fender's pirates, lost his eye during filming when Jean-Claude Van Damme accidentally struck his eye with a prop knife. Pinckney sued Van Damme in a North Carolina court and was awarded $485,000.
Violent scenes were heavily cut to gain an "R" rating rather than an "X", including a throat-slitting and some blood and gore during the village massacre. Also excised was the death of a man Van Damme was fighting, which caused an inconsistency that made him look like he suddenly disappeared.
American rapper Method Man sampled most of Fender's opening words as the opening lyrics in the song "Judgment Day" from his 1998 album Tical 2000: Judgement Day. The lyrics are slightly modified. The intro is also in the opening of the song "World Damnation" by the death metal band Mortician. The intro of Fender talking about death and starvation is thought as the official opening of metal band Chimairas' song "Resurrection." It is often played at live shows as an intro. The same intro is also played the beginning of a song by Australian, Christian, gore-grindcore band Vomitorial Corpulence.
Cyborg received a generally negative reception from critics despite the box office success. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports a 14% positive score, based on 14 reviews, certifying it "Rotten," with an average rating of 2.9/10. The movie debuted at No.4 at the American box office and went on to gross $10,166,459.
Cyborg 2, starring Elias Koteas and Angelina Jolie, was released in 1993. Cyborg 3: The Recycler, a direct-to-video release, followed in 1995. Both films bear little to no relation to the first film and were heavily panned by critics, even more than the original.
In 2011, director Albert Pyun's Curnan Pictures got hold of the missing tapes of the original cut of Cyborg through Pyun’s original choice for score artist, Tony Riparetti. This director's cut of the film features Pyun's editing and some previously unreleased scenes and is commercially available through the director himself. Pyun's director's cut was released in 2014 in Germany with the film's original title "Slinger".
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