Cyborg Cop (1993)

John Rhys-Davies and David Bradley star in a low budget but highly enjoyable action sci-fi film from Sam Firstenberg. Hollywood DVD UK R0 DVD.

The Film

DEA agent Jack Ryan (David Bradley) was part of the agency's top field team, working with his brother Phillip. However a shoot-out gone wrong sees Jack hounded from the force. Years later his brother Phillip is on an undercover operation in the Carribean to destroy a drugs lab when he is captured by a mysterious scientist Kessel (John Rhys-Davies) who is developing killer cyborgs to sell on the black market. Jack travels to the island to investigate his brother's disappearance and runs into a journalist Cathy - together they start to discover Kessel's secret operations...

Penned by Greg Latter (behind such classics as Delta Force 3: The Killing Game (1991) and American Ninja V (1993)), Cyborg Cop is an archetypal 1990s action 'B-movie' which never tries to break away from its 'straight to video' exploitation roots. The storyline is very simple yet the pacing is strong and there are none of the continuity gaps that mar many similar low budget thrillers - most importantly it provides plenty of opportunities for gunfights and action scenes, which never seem tacked on; even the romance which does initially seem like comic relief, comes to play an integral part in the storyline and fortunately the film as a whole completely eschews comic relief (it even avoids the usual genre clich of the smart villain being let down by moronic associates). The story progresses in a pretty straight forward fashion (the surprise that might have been created by the appearance of a cyborg in what appears to that point to be a routine action thriller is rather given away by the title) and builds to a suitably action packed climax, culminating in what could have been a dangerously cheesy ending, although fortunately it is given such brief screentime that it does not dampen the film.

Director Sam Firstenberg (also of Delta Force 3 fame) takes the directoral role and does a perfectly solid job behind the camera - like the script, the direction makes no pretentions to any greater cinematic calling - but the action scenes are well helmed and the editing is tight throughout. As with most DTV productions from the era, Cyborg Cop was helmed in South Africa, passing suitably well as a Jamaica-like Carribean island. The production budget was obviously sufficient to provide a good number of explosive action scenes, although the occasionally gory effects look rather dated. The soundtrack is a pretty typical synthesised affair for the most part, with the sex scene playing out to classic softcore porno themes, but bizarrely during a car chase it uses classic Deep South chase music, to the extent that you are just waiting for the narrator from Dukes of Hazzard to voice over the top.

The lead role is taken by David Bradley, a little known American actor whose career never really moved beyond low budget American martial arts films like American Samurai (1995). His acting is perfectly sufficient for the part and he certainly knows his stuff in the hand-to-hand combat scenes, although these skills are rather underused. Inexplicably however the costume department seem determined to give him an absurdly camp appearance - although the Rambo-esque black muscle-top is perhaps inevitable, the leather jacket he often wears would be more at home with the 'Village People' and there really is no excuse for him spending the whole film wearing a bum-bag. Providing the obligatory 'actor who you've heard of but cannot place', John Rhys-Davies certainly seems to relish his villanous part as Kessel, playing up the part perfectly, without going over into camp villany - he gives the whole film a real boost despite his distinctly Welsh tones seeming rather incongurous given the tropical setting.

Cyborg Cop is pure bad movie magic - a simple but effective storyline, gratutious nudity and gory explosive action, not to mention horribly dated outfits, crashing police cars and a cheesy ending - anyone expecting more from a Nu-Image straight-to-video production really needs to rethink their choice of film. One for all bad movie fans.

In Brief
Anyone famous in it? David Bradley - an American martial arts actor who also starred in American Ninja 4: The Annihilation (1990).
John Rhys-Davies - a versatile Welsh character actor best known for playing Gimli in Lord of the Rings.
Directed by anyone interesting? Sam Firstenberg - a Polish born director who made a career helming low budget actioners including American Ninja 2: The Confrontation (1987) and later Nu-Image creature feature Spiders II: Breeding Ground (2001).
Any gore or violence ? A couple of bloody gore shots.
Any sex or nudity? A sex scene with some topless shots.
Who is it for? One for all DTV action movie fans.

Visuals Original aspect ratio - 1.33:1 fullscreen. Colour
Looks as it did when shot, grainy but with good colours and ample detail.
Shot for video premiere so the academy ratio is correct.
Audio English stereo - sounds fine.
Subtitles None
Extras None.
Region Region 0 (ALL) - PAL
Availability Available on its own or as a two-pack (double sided disc) with the sequel Cyborg Cop II.
Other regions? Available in various releases worldwide, not currently available in the US.
Cuts? This is the uncut release including some gory shots not included in the R-Rated US edition. Titles and credits are in English.



All text in this review written by Timothy Young - 22nd January 2012.
Text from this review not to be used without authorization.

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