If you’ve ever plunged the depths of a bargain bin filled with DVDs then it’s likely that you’ve seen the cover of this film, buried no doubt under a pile of dozens of unsold copies of other bargain bin classics like “Carnosaur 3: Primal Species”. I swear I’ve seen these two films hundreds of times over the years, which leads me to believe that either there are a lot of these films out there or that I just keep happening to come across the same dozen or so copies that are perpetually bought and then sold back to secondhand DVD shops.
The DVD cover for “Cyborg Cop” features the by-line “HUMAN? CYBORG? OR KILLER ROBOT?” suggesting that this film is going to be all kinds of awesome. The trailer, too, confirms my early premonitions: “Part Terminator, Part Robo Cop — Cyborg Cop!”
As good as, if not better than, both of those films, is how I choose to interpret that sentence. And within the very first few seconds of the film, there’s even more evidence that this film is going to live up to its title of king of the bargain bin: Nu Image are responsible for its existence, the company that made the film “Shark Attack 3”, starring Tom Cruise lookalike and ventriloquist playboy John Barrowman.
Shark Attack 3, for those who haven’t seen it, is kind of like Jaws, if the protagonist in Jaws proudly strutted around as if his penis was hanging out of his shorts, occasionally stopping to flirt and attack the giant shark with baseball bat.
Thinking about it, this film is surprisingly similar, despite its lack of a flamingly gay male lead.
Cyborg Cop opens in a deserted building. The kind of deserted building that appears exclusively in ’90s action movies. It’s here that we’re introduced to our hero, Jack, a cop who doesn’t play by the rules. He’s rough, he’s tough and he also happens to look a lot like Nick Knowles of “DIY SOS” fame and spends much of the film parading about with a “fanny pack”, or “bum bag”, depending on where you’re from, strapped around his waist. Is a fanny pack regulation attire? Fuck no. And that’s just how Jack rolls. Jack’s balls are so large he has to keep them in a secure leather holster, presumably for easy access.
The son of a Murdoch-esque newspaper tycoon has kidnapped a seemingly random girl, and Jack and a fellow cop have entered the building to put a stop to his madness. Despite orders from the other cop not to shoot, Jack, being the fanny pack-wearing maverick that he is, ends up firing several shots at the kidnapper, killing him the process.
We then cut to several months later. Jack has been fired from the police service due to his recklessness and now just wants to move on and put his life as a maverick cop behind him. He’s seen too much, hurt too many people. No, sir, he doesn’t do that shit anymore. These days he puts on his bumbag every morning just like everybody else. He don’t believe in nothing no more, man! He don’t believe in nothing! Sure, things were good when he was a young hot shot with nothing to lose, but that shit’s over now.
These days Jack’s thinking of settling down and starting his own prime-time DIY show. Yeah, that’s right, man. Jack’s got it all worked out. No more police work for Jack anymore. That life’s behind him.
Meanwhile, Jack’s brother goes to St. Keith Island in the Caribbean, where a wealthy mad scientist is transforming men into killer cyborgs and selling them on the black market. When Jack receives an emergency message from his brother, he sets out on a self-assigned mission to save him.
Hey, what could go wrong, huh? What are cyborgs really, when you think about it? They’re just robotically-enhanced super beings, capable of wiping out the human race. Jack, who couldn’t even keep it together when he was up against the weedy son of a newspaper tycoon, can handle an army of cyborgs, right? Yeah, no problem.
So, pretty straightforward ’90s action film stuff so far, but wait until we meet the “mad” scientist in charge of this operation, Kessel, who’s like a cross between Brian Blessed and Sanchez from “Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace”. He spends much of the film experimenting with a vague Yorkshire accent, occasionally forgetting that he’s supposed to be Northern, and then overcompensating by over-pronouncing words to the point of absurdity. One of his most bizarrely delivered lines comes fairly early on the film, where he exclaims: “This is gowin’ tooo bei loike teckin’ candy frum smool chilldin.”
The director, who I’m guessing has never heard of Yorkshire before, must have thought that the actor playing Kessel (John Rhys-Davies) really aced that line because it pops up in the trailer.
Granted, Kessel is an unusual super villain, but for a mad scientist who makes a living out of producing invincible cyborgs, his whole operation seems surprisingly low-tech.
He couldn’t quite afford a full-blown big TV like most super villans, but what’s more devilish than several modestly-sized televisions stuck together, eh!? MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
As Kessel demonstrates, it’s surprisingly easy to turn somebody in to a cyborg. First, you slice somebody’s arm off using a lazer beam and then you attach a metal disk to the gaping wound. Finally, simply stick a robotic arm to the disk using no adhesive or screws and that’s pretty much it. Granted, it’s not technically a cyborg, more of an armless corpse with a metal bit stuck to it, but what did you expect from a super villain with such a DIY punk approach to science?
By the time Jack reaches the island, Kessel has already captured and operated on his brother with the help of, Quincy, one of his cyborg minions. Yes, Quincy, the most advanced cyborg in the world.
Let’s see what Quincy is capable of, shall we? Okay, for the purpose of this demonstration, let’s just say that the president is sitting in his car, surrounded by bulletproof glass.
Right. Now Quincy’s going to show you something pretty cool. Okay. Quincy, show ’em what you can do!
Right. So the most advanced robot cyborg in the world thinks that the best way to kill the president is to dive through the windshield, headfirst, and ignite, seemingly for no reason?
Quincy, you’re an idiot.
Still, Kessel seems impressed with his creation. His creation that, for reasons beyond the realms of comprehension, he’s decided to call “Quincy”.
Meanwhile, Jack is having little luck trying to find the whereabouts of his brother. He eventually stumbles across a journalist named Cathy, a woman, with breasts, and the only woman in the entire film that the director felt comfortable enough to give more than one line of dialogue to; therefore, due to her immense lack of personality, Cathy shall be from here on known simply as “Woman”.
Woman and Jack don’t get off to a great start. Woman is a journalist and Jack hates journalists and woman isn’t too keen on Jack either, possibly because he’s a grown man who walks around wearing a bum bag all the time. Yet despite their initial disdain for each other, you can immediately sense that these two characters are going to make kinky love at some point in this film. And when they finally do, it’s unapologetically erotic. They go all out, nipple to nipple, with Woman wrapping herself around Jack like a giant, naked bum bag.
It’s pretty full on for a film called “Cyborg Cop”, and the sex is accompanied by twinkly piano, presumably to cover up the sound of determined grunting and squelching.
Woman isn’t the only offensive stereotype in the film, however. Fulfilling the film’s ethnic quota whilst also providing some hilarious comic relief, we have a token Jamaican guy, who despite his novelty dreadlock wig and obligatory spliff, is quite clearly an actor of Indian descent. Still, he’s brown enough, right? Jamaica, India — what’s that, like, Germany and Austria or something?
I can’t remember his name, unfortunately, but lets just call him something appropriately racist. Splifler? Splifler J. Mahn — the “J”, of course, standing for “Jamaican” and “Mahn” part alluding to the fact that some Jamaican people say “mahn”. The name “Splifler” is self-explanatory.
The odd thing is that there are Jamaican actors in the film; they have speaking parts. It’s as if they’ve applied the ol’ Simpsons “cows don’t look like cows on film — you’ve got to use horses” trick and decided that the Jamaican actors didn’t quite have that shamelessly over the top performance that they were looking for. You really need to hire actors of Asian descent to pull off an authentic Jamaican performance.
As the film progresses, Jack stumbles across the whereabouts of his brother, leading him to Kessel. Using a motorbike, he bursts into one of the mad scientist’s buildings killing hundreds of innocent men, most of them probably with families.
Eventually, Jack comes face to face with Kessel and is forced to face off with his brainwashed, cyborg brother. But Jack’s brother suddenly comes through for him and the two team up to defeat Kessel, almost as if the love shared between two brothers is more powerful than the scientific control of a small metal disk. However, the celebration doesn’t last long and Jack’s brother is killed shortly after.
Dejected, Jack walks out of the building knowing that, at the very least, he has managed to save the world from cinema’s crappiest and most racially offensive mad scientist.
But the action doesn’t end there. Quincy turns up for a scene in which Jack repeatedly and awkwardly keeps kicking him in the leg whilst chanting, “Come on then!”
This happens for some time until Jack decides to hop on his motorbike and circle Quincy, presumably just to annoy him. Eventually, Jack decides enough is enough and rides off of a nearby makeshift ramp, knocking Quincy’s head off in the process. Great.
The final scene sees our hero and Woman walking down the street with Jack’s brother’s adopted son with smiles on their face. The audience is left to ponder some of the profound questions raised by the film as well as imagining what the future holds for these three characters. Bum bag modeling? A pretty average DIY television series? Minor parts in Cyborg Cop II? Who knows.
As the credits roll, a nondescript piece of Jamaican music plays. “It’s a reggae party!” the singer wails, accurately summing up the experience of watching Cyborg Cop.
You know what? It was a reggae party, wasn’t it? It was literally just like a reggae party or, at least, how I perceive an authentic Jamaican/Indian-style reggae party to be. It was a lot of fun. Although, from the look of things, there are some people who disagree with me.
Who would have thunk it, eh? Some IMDB users are surprisingly critical of this film. Perhaps I’ve just seen too many low-budget movies, but this, believe it or not wasn’t that bad. Sure, the term “Cyborg Cop” wasn’t particularly appropriate considering that neither Jack’s brother or Quincy were very prominent in the film, despite supplying a motive for Jack to strap on a bum bag and kick some ass. It was also kind of sexist, racist and featured one too many scenes of shit blowing up for no reason. But I’m not sure it deserves comments like this:
“this was the worst movie I’ve ever seen. The acting was absolutely pathetic, let alone the overall directing and producing. Every category of the film, (eg. editing, filming techniques etc)failed dismally and for anyone to rate this film more than a two, makes me wonder what the world is coming to. The attempts at humour were vastly unsuccessful, which in turn created an extremely awkward viewing experience. The only things worth laughing at were the sets and the homo-erotic subtext which I must admit, contributed a major part in scoring this movie 1/10. A lack of money is not an excuse for appalling aesthetics, acting and producing. The worst movie I’ve ever seen! awkward, boring and painful…no…excruciating.” – Rachel (IMDBer)
I’m not sure how she can criticise the producer; it could have been a very well organised film let down by a few offensive stereotypes and the protagonist’s unusual, dated fashion accessory. The filming techniques and overall look of the film isn’t particularly bad either, and the acting, while admittedly pretty bad, isn’t as atrociously shit as I was expecting from a film called “Cyborg Cop”. In fact, I’m confused what Rachel expected from a $1 film called “Cyborg Cop”. Was she enticed by the film’s bombastic by-line, the impressive trailer, the gaudy DVD cover, Jack’s bum bag? I’m genuinely confused how anybody can have such a hostile reaction to this incredibly campy movie.
Unfortuantely, I missed the “homo-erotic” subtext, possibly because I was so distracted by Jack’s bulbous leather package. Perhaps repeated viewing will unmask the many layers of this complex bargain bin masterpiece?