Continuing our little celebration of Arnold returning to the silver screen as a futuristic killing machine, I bring to you the third film in this series. The “3rd” you ask? But it's called “Cyborg 2”, not “Cyborg 3” you say. That's another movie entirely. “What Gives?” you ask. Well stop sayin' and askin' crap! You will learn all about that in due time.
The year was 1993. Mulder introduced Skully to the world of the paranormal, the hit television show “Cheers” came to an end, we all learned how dangerous Raptors are with the release of Jurassic Park, and the world began to ask, “Got Milk?”. All this and Angelina Jolie makes Phillip K. Dick proud as she plays a human-like replicant in “Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow”.
The film begins by explaining that in the year 2074, the world was locked in a corporate battle between Kobayashi Electronics (Japan) and Pinwheel Robotics (USA). They struggled against one-another for dominance in the field of cyborg manufacturing. Naturally, cyborgs have replaces humans in nearly every respect. “From the soldier in the field, to the prostitute in the brothel”.
The landscape is dense, mechanical and filthy – in the kind of way that becomes a cyber-punk's wet dream. But to me it seems unbearable. If I lived there, I'd just kill myself and let a cyborg take my place at the cheesecake factory. Ironically, when I worked there, we no longer made cheesecake. The factory had been retrofitted to produce soylent. Our slogan was; “It's not as good, but it's good for you!. That was before all the Apocalypse was stuff.
Any how, Pinwheel has designed a new type of seducing cyborg. But they weren't created for pleasure. They were created for corporate espionage. They use a highly flammable liquid explosive as a coolant, and after the cyborg successfully targets and seduces their mark, they detonate when they orgasm. Okay, it isn't explained quite like that. However, it is exactly what happens.
Now we meet Cash, Angelina Jolie, who just so happens to be one of these dangerous robo-vixens. She is being trained/practicing/being tested in some for of martial arts by Colt – played by none other than Elias Koteas, who you may remember as Casey Jones, from a little thing called “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”.
Cash is designed to feel human emotions, as a way to keep her deadly intentions a secret. This makes her all the more believable – right up to the moment she explodes. But because of this Cash develops feelings for Colt. Colt can't control his urges either, and soon the two of them are rendezvousing deep within the bowels of Pinwheel late at night. This sort of thing is a major no-no. Pinwheel can't let their expensive new cyborgs get all filled up with ooie-gooie man juice.
Once Cash is discovered missing from her room, security is alerted and they search the facility. Cash and Colt slowly make their way outside, not before fighting off wave after wave of Pinwheel's armed guards.
This whole event – the rendezvous, the security alert and Cash 'N' Colt being tipped off that they are being pursued by security – is the handy work of a hacker who goes by the name Mercy, Jack Palance. He also explains to Cash what exactly her purpose is. Now the odd couple -- those “Robo-Sexuals” – have to stay on the lamb long enough to have Cash's detonator removed, all while Mercy continues to guide them from he secret hacker lair.
Now that the couple are on the outside, Pinwheel hires Danny Bench, Billy Drago, who is a contract killer who Pinwheel routinely use to hunt down escapee and defective androids. His job this time is to find the couple, kill Colt and return Cash to Pinwheel.
While Cash 'N' Colt traverse the dystopian city-scape running from Bench, Mercy starts to make his presence known to Pinwheel. As it turns out, Mercy once worked for Pinwheel, and like Colt, he fell in love with one of their androids. When his supervisors found out, Mercy was fired and his android bride was confiscated and destroyed. Now, Mercy has been helping Cash 'N' Colt less out of the kindness of his heart, and more as a way to exact his revenge on Pinwheel. The escape of Cash was part of Mercy's carefully thought out plan to use Cash against them.
As the film nears it's end, Mercy arranges an escape for Cash 'N' Colt. They are to leave on an outbound cargo ship, but there is a catch. For the two to get aboard, Colt must win their place on the ship by fighting to the death in an underground bare-knuckle boxing match. And who will Colt fight? None other than Bench. This whole part feels kind of tacked on and unnecessary. It also feels like “Casablanca”, how a do-gooder aids a fleeing couple in a self sacrificing act as the ship/plain is about to leave the country.
So yes, Colt and his robo-bride do manage to escape after Colt murders Bench by pushing him into the spinning boat propeller. With a little help from Mercy and his automatic shotgun, the couple make their way to the ship just as some of Pinwheel‘s security guards arrive to “break up the party“. But we kinda knew that was going to happen anyway, right?
The film ends with Mercy paying one last visit to Pinwheel headquarters. He brings with him Cash's extracted glass shadow detonator, which he tricks the Pinwheel CEO into detonating. In a final act of defiance, Mercy blows up Pinwheel, it's CEO as well as himself. I'm assuming this was followed by Kobayashi Electronics taking over the entire robotics market. The End
“Cyborg 2” kinda, sorta, has the right idea. Deep down in there there are concepts that – if fleshed out a bit better – could have really given this film a point. For instance, robots who learn to love and how they fit and adapt in society, could be interesting. Or better yet, the film could have posed the question; “When is being not human, human enough?”. Since Colt has fallen in love with Cash, and even wants to put his noodle in her slop tube, at what point does Cash stop being a robot and start being a human inside a normal human relationship. She looks sounds and smells human after all.
This type of film could have offered up some heavy ideas while still being laced with shoot-out/kung-fu action. As for the action, it reminds me a bit of the Pam Anderson flick “Barbwire”. “Barbwire” was nothing more than a futuristic re-telling of “Casablanca”, starring an indie comicbook heroine – which I should also review by the way. This felt a lot like “Barbwire” in the way that all the action and “heavy ideas” take a backseat to the survival driven love story. That's all fine and well, but it felt like both, the action and the love story, were pulling to two different direction. As if the action and fight sequences were there just to remind us that it was an action flick.
Oh well. It's an interesting piece of science fiction that reflects the times in which it was made, as well as a fond appreciation for films like “Blade Runner” and certain anime. Not to mention that it has an interesting cast for a film that feels like it was straight to video. Soon to be stars like Jolie, and familiar faces like Drago. Drago is one of those actors who I always think of as being typecast in the genre of horror, and like Clint Howard, it just isn't true. They have faces for horror I guess.
So in conclusion, “Cyborg 2: Glass Shadow” isn’t too good, but it isn't too bad either. It offers something a little different from the other “Cyborg” films and is worth a watch if you are interested in the series. However there is another cyborg/action/love story that I can whole heartedly recommend, and it's called “Cherry 2000”. It has a very similar story, involving the future and sex robots, but the story is better told and is more fun to watch. It's a soon to be cult film, as soon as people learn what it is. It's one part grindhouse, one part noire and three parts cheeky entertainment.
I’m Cory Carr and this concludes another trip in The Action Movie Time Machine. Until next time, SEMPER FI PUNK!
For more from Cory, check out slaughterfilm.com. The home of weekly podcasts, reviewing the films that are legendary, even in Hell!