Saturday, March 19, 2011

Mechanical Terror Week: Cyborg Soldier

Boy, is this just generic.  This 2008 action film is an amazingly-generic rip-off of a famous Jean-Claude Van Damme.  Which one?  Just take a guess.  Shockingly enough, it's not actually Cyborg.  I know- I'm surprised too.  The film it's ripping off is actually Universal Soldier.  In place of the wooden, oddly-accented kickboxer, we have a wooden, non-accented UFC fighter.  The guy looks like Lance Storm mixed with Pinocchio.  Who looked at the guy and said 'Yeah, you should be the lead in a film!'  Maybe it's the same guy who gave a contract to Don "The Dragon" Wilson based on his 'charisma and exotic, good looks.'  That really happened, you know.  This movie also stars Tiffani 'Not Amber' Thiessen and Bruce Greenwood, a man who should be able to do better.  He's the best part of the film, so enjoy him whenever you can.  Prepare to fire a lot of bullets for when we meet up with the...
A random guy breaks out of a facility in some awkwardly-shot fight scenes.  Why can't they show us our hero?  It's not like this is building up to a super-secret reveal later or anything.  We meet our other lead character: Thiessen playing a small-town Sheriff.  She has a relationship of sorts with the guy manning the desk, which proves to be as about as important as the human appendix.  The unseen man escapes from the facility and meets up with the Sheriff.  The boss at the facility (Greenwood) sends out some guys to retrieve the man in the black outfit.  They stop by the Police Station first and kill the guy there, why not? See what I meant about their relationship now?  They confront our protagonists and shoot the guy full of lead. He gets up, however, and makes his escape with the Sheriff in her car.  At the facility, Greenwood and his assistant are joined by a woman sent in by the parent corporation to see what went wrong.  Her role- be a bitch, but otherwise do nothing.  Time to get in a series of redundant scenes!
Basically, the middle portion of the film boils down to these key things:
* Our hero does something robotic and/or doesn't understand emotions.
* Our heroine is constantly saved by him and then tries to escape.
* She also constantly leaves evidence behind, allowing the chase to continue.
* They drive/run away.
* Very little character progression actually occurs.
Eventually, the movie gets around to explaining a bit about our hero.  If you want to avoid any SPOILERS, just skip to the end.  For those still with us, here's the long and silly explanation for the events.  Our hero worked on the experiment to augment humans with nanites, but didn't want to test on unwilling people.  So, to get him to do it, Greenwood killed his family and used him as a subject instead.  So your plan was to piss off the guy and then make him nigh invincible?  When our hero finds out all of this, he takes out a bunch of guys in his path.  The lead hitman for Greenwood is the guy who killed his family, so he gets a face full of knife.  Greenwood captures Thiessen and takes out the woman from the corporation, but cannot stop our hero.  In the End, our hero blows up the plant with him and Greenwood inside.  Thiessen mourns his death, but celebrates his life.  That's so...sappy and cliche.  The End.
You're supposed to be a cyborg, not a bad actor!  The plot of this movie is, well, trite and cliche.  That's really the best way to put it.  The characters don't have a lot of motivation, the events are pretty uninspired and it just feels cheaply put together.  Nothing is outright terrible or anything though.  The fight scenes that they actually want you to see are pretty good.  The lead guy doesn't ever do anything that really stands out though.  Judo flips and punches- I've seen that 100 times before.  I was expecting some real takedowns or submission moves, but we just get that.  While the middle part of the movie is nothing special, it's at least paced pretty evenly.  Ultimately, this whole thing is a cheap, Direct-to-DVD affair designed to sell us on Rich Franklin as a movie star.  How has that turned out?  Well, he's had a minor part in a Christian film (also Direct-to-DVD) and an even smaller part in another film.  The real winner here is Greenwood, who actually puts in a good performance (on an underwritten character).  It's like he read a different script when he did his part.  Bruce is the new voice of Batman in DC's animate films like Batman: Under the Red Hood.  That's a step up!  Take us away, amazingly-exact shot to the head!
Next up, we begin Rare Flix Week.  First to be reviewed is an obscure horror film from the '80s about a killer brain...and the dude from Re-Animator.  Stay tuned...

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