Sunday, March 3, 2013

American Cyborg: Steel Warrior (1993)

After the inevitable nuclear war, evil AIs have imprisoned the survivors of now infertile humanity in the ruins of their cities to live out their lives as the last generation on Earth. There is a resistance movement, but the AIs keep those guys under control through nearly indestructible cyborgs which actually seem to be androids.

But there is still hope for the human race. A group of American scientists have managed to acquire the Last Fertile Woman on Earth™. Mary (Nicole Hansen), as she is of course called, or rather Mary's ovaries (looks like sperm still works fine?), have already produced one perfectly okay looking foetus the scientists prefer to keep alive ex vitro, because this is a science fiction movie and a foetus in a jar is awesome. They plan to transport Mary and her jar baby to Europe where the resistance seems to have been quite a bit more successful. The resistance group only needs to get Mary to the port of their city before the magical portable baby jar battery runs out or something.

As it goes in films like this, the AI gets wind of the project just minutes before Mary and her band of protectors are supposed to go on their way towards the port. The only killer cyborg we'll ever get to see (John Saint Ryan) slaughters everyone else while only Mary manages to escape.

Last Fertile Women On Earth are always pretty helpless when it comes to violence (note to self: if you ever have the responsibility for the LFWOE, find her a fighting teacher), so poor Mary won't stand a chance against the cyborg in the long run. Fortunately, she soon stumbles upon Austin (Joe Lara). Austin is one of those post-apocalyptic manly man heroes with the hair of 80s bedroom jazz sax players who hide their hearts of gold behind a grumpy demeanour, so of course he'll protect Mary from cyborgs and radioactive mutant cannibals (cannibal mutants?), fall in love with her, etc., and etc.

Wherever cheap US action movies go, American Cyborg's director Boaz Davidson goes too. The man has had - particular in his role as producer - his hands in so many films of the genre he sometimes seems omnipresent. Most of Davidson's directorial work falls rather early in his career, before he became the action man, but there are a handful of films that fall in the genre of his main body of producing work.

American Cyborg may very well be the best among Davidson's self-directed action movies, but then I would say that, seeing as the film contains a lot of things I find nearly irresistible. It takes place in one of those weird post-apocalyptic worlds where leather and latex must rain from the skies like manna, features a peculiar mixture of high and low tech, a lot of illogical ideas (so, the science of these people is good enough to produce drugs that make you absolutely immune against radioactivity as long as you take them, but can't solve the fertility problem, or hack an AI?), dialogue as melodramatic as it is stupid, scenes that are ripped off wholesale from Cameron's first Terminator, an evil AI that is so cost-conscious it sends a single cyborg-who-really-is-an-android (with the milky blood we know and love from the Alien films, of course) out, even when said android clearly doesn't cut it - the wonders go on and on.

Particular favourites of mine are the cyborg-androids' powers of lizard-like limb regeneration, cannibals who argue that the best way to appreciate babies is by eating them, and the never explained backstory that explains the nature of Austin (the spoiler's actually in the film title). It's all pretty wonderful if you like this sort of thing.

I also really appreciate how Lara's shitty acting (at least with melodramatic fighting faces that'd get him a thumbs up from Sonny Chiba) and Hansen's shitty acting come together to attempt to produce some kind of acting black hole where bantering can only be delivered with awkward pauses and romantic attraction is demonstrated by making Amrish Puri-like goggle eyes at one another.

Of course, all the cheese, leather and nonsense is only there to fill the space between action sequences. These are pretty good too, filmed with competence, and choreographed professionally, so there's nothing about American Cyborg: Steel Warrior I don't find entertaining.

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