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Film review: Cyborg

Published: Thursday, June 8 1989 12:00 a.m. MDT

Jean-Claude Van Damme, a Belgian martial arts expert, is trying again for the sub-Schwarzenegger trophy. Is there room for another European-accented, humongous-bicepped, big-screen hero with more muscles than acting ability?

Dolph Lundgren thought so with "Red Scorpion," and Van Damme obviously thinks so with his second film, "Cyborg" (after last year's "Bloodsport"). But on the screen Van Damme has none of Schwarzenegger's two most endearing qualities — warmth and humor.

"Cyborg" is a low-budget ripoff of the "Mad Max" trilogy, "The Terminator," "Rambo," "Escape from New York," the "Night of the Living Dead" trilogy and dozens of old cheap Chinese kung fu movies.

The setting is the proverbial burned-out future where the world is dying from a deadly plague, and those who don't die become mutants. The plot has a half-woman/half-robot getting information implanted in her computer brain that will tell the world's scientists how to cure the plague.

But she must get to Atlanta safely, and our hero Van Damme is her escort. The chief villain (Vincent Klyn) prefers world chaos and death, however, thinking it will make him "a god" and allow him to rule over the Earth . . . or what's left of it.

That's the storyline, such as it is, but mainly "Cyborg" is about Van Damme encountering Klyn from time to time and being tortured in various ways — including crucifixion on the mast of a grounded ship.

The dialogue is incoherent, the fights take place mostly in burned-out buildings, with smoke and shafts of light and rain playing important parts. And it quickly becomes obvious that B-movie director Albert Pyun cares more about slow-motion gore and framing his deceptively lovely imagery than telling a story.

And in the end it's a little unfair to assess Van Damme in this picture, since Robert De-Niro would have trouble seeming credible in these surroundings.

"Cyborg" is rated R for considerable violence and profanity, along with some sex and nudity.

(BU) "NIGHT VISITOR" was formerly titled "Never Cry Devil," which is still the name of the silly song under the credits.

"Never Cry Devil" as in "Never Cry Wolf."

It seems the protagonist here (Derek Rydall) is a pathological liar, though he refers to himself as a "storyteller." He is played by Rydall as a misunderstood, clean-cut kid, but he has tendencies that are decidedly on the sick side.

When a gorgeous neighbor (Shannon Tweed) moves in, Rydall spies on her bedroom with his telescope and discovers she is a prostitute.

One night he climbs up on her roof to snap a picture of her with a client but instead sees her murdered and almost becomes a victim himself. When he rips off the killer's satanic mask, he sees that it is his high school history teacher (Allen Garfield).

The investigating police captain (Richard Roundtree) doesn't believe him, but he also doesn't bother to investigate or search Garfield's house. So Rydall enlists the aid of burned-out former cop Elliott Gould and eventually they have a showdown with satanist Garfield and his dimwitted brother Michael J. Pollard.

The film is very low budget, with almost all the dialogue dubbed over and the sleazy gore quite ludicrous.

Add to that the laconic phoned-in performances of nearly everyone involved — especially Gould, who's in about 10 minutes of the movie, despite his top billing — and you have a film guaranteed to put you to sleep, if you're not kept awake by laughter at all the wrong scenes.

"Night Visitor" is rated R for violence, sex, nudity and profanity.