Home > Uncategorized > Top 20 favourite movies of all time (#18)

Top 20 favourite movies of all time (#18)

#18: Cyborg

Long before we saw him in Street Fighter, Jean-Claude Van Damme was well-known for quite a few martial arts movies, two of which I consider my all-time favourites, sitting at numbers 18 and 17 respectively.

I was thinking about how I would go about including Van Damme’s earlier work out of the four that I had chosen for myself and Cyborg was an easy choice based on how well I enjoyed the story and the setting of the movie.  I also considered these two because of how good Van Damme can be as an actor.  Its rare to see action stars be able to pull off a very good performance when they’re not using their fists and kicks.  But anyway, onto the movie.

This low-budget story takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where scientists have found a cure for a plague that has been ravaging the human race, and they “upgraded” (I guess that’s what they were doing) a human into a cyborg so that she could carry the information to Atlanta for the CDC to produce the cure.  But word gets out about this and land pirates want the cure for themselves to continue exercising their power and terror over the masses.

I will say this, these are what pirates are supposed to be like.  Ruthless, pillaging, going from town to town killing all in their path and stealing what valuables the townspeople have.  Most other versions of pirates look too “clean”, like they’re just wearing the costumes and the make-up and talking their pirate talk.  These ones you feel have been wearing those clothes for years.  They’re torn, dirty, probably caked with the blood of their victims and they look ugly as fuck without even the slightest need for make-up.  You know they mean business when you see them on screen and it makes them much more effective as a group of villains than most other versions of pirates you’ve seen on the big screen.

Hot on the trail of these pirates is Gibson, a “slinger”.  Slingers are your merc/bounty hunter type of lone warrior that the scientists hired to escort the Cyborg to Atlanta, and he comes across a female companion who’s looking to help find the cure.  But Gibson is more interested in vengeance because the leader of the pirates, Fender, was responsible for killing Gibson’s family.  Now the family, which are shown in flashbacks, took Gibson in as he was helping them leave the plague ravaged cities and the mother eventually fell in love with him.  But Fender and his men came across them too and held Gibson, the mother and her baby boy hostage, forcing the daughter to hold them up by barbed wire.  He tells her that if she can hold them up, they’ll live.  Well, shit.

Back to the present and Gibson and the woman who tags along have different agendas, his is vengeance, hers is finding the cure, both clearly on the same path to Atlanta.  All points do eventually converge there.

A good portion of the movie is mostly Gibson hunting down the pirates, whom eventually take the Cyborg (she gives herself up knowing Gibson won’t be able to take them all down).  Fender’s aware of this and holds the cyborg up as some sort of bargaining chip.  Knowing he’s outnumbered, he lures them away from the cyborg in pursuit of him, culminating into this wasteland area where Gibson’s fatigue gets the better of him and he’s crucified to the mast of an old torn-up ship, left to die.

The flashbacks to the family play out again and his desire for vengeance are strong enough that he frees himself and recovers for a while before heading to Atlanta.  We also realize that the daughter grew up to join Fender and become a pirate herself but actually remembers Gibson’s face and feels unsure about her loyalty (little moments that work :)).

So everyone relevant are now in Atlanta and Gibson and Fender have it out, Fender actually showing that he’s very strong, not just all talk and its a pretty big fight between the two.  The fight eventually has Gibson winning and they take the Cyborg to the CDC (or what’s left of it) and the movie ends.

What I like the most about the movie are the music and the cinematography, you see really good camera work and lighting for several scenes to convey the mood at the right time.  The acting from the main players holds their own despite the secondary pirate characters being just screaming grunts looking to kill and maim.  The guy who plays Fender isn’t well-known but those eyes almost lack any sort of pigmentation, which makes him more scary looking when he takes the sunglasses off and you have to look into those very pale blue eyes (I wonder if those were contacts?)

For a low-budget production, they use their sets effectively to convey the tone of the movie and how bad things have gotten from the plague.

As for the dialogue, there isn’t much to it, and I like that its kept to a minimum without the need for heavy expository lines.  You see more from the flashbacks as to why Gibson wants to hunt down Fender and why he’s cold-hearted and merciless to his enemies.

What works the best when you use the theme of vengeance in a movie is that not only is the protagonist seeking justice, but the element of vengeance almost makes him/her detached from their humanity.  In the case of this movie, its almost like Gibson is a cyborg himself, devoid of emotion, just acting with one sole purpose in mind and you see that in a couple of scenes.  The limited dialogue enhances the theme and I love movies that show and not tell, so you see the weight of the movie even more.

With that said, look forward to #17.

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