aka Cyborg3: The Recycler
Director – Michael Schroeder, Screenplay – Troy Bolotnick & Barry Victor, Producer – Alan Mehrez, Photography – Phil Parmet, Music – Kim Bullard & Julian Raymond, Visual Effects – Ultramatrix Inc (Supervisor – John Eppolito), Special Effects Supervisor – Gregg Hendrickson, Cyborg/Makeup Effects – Magic Media Industries (Supervisor – John Carl Buechler), Production Design – George Costello. Production Company – Mehrez-Dem Productions
Khrystyne Haje (Cash), Zach Galligan (Charles Osbourne Evans), Richard Lynch (Anton Llewellyn), Andrew Bryniarski (Jacko), William Katt (Decaf), Michael Bailey Smith (Donovan), Rebecca Ferratti (Elexia), Evan Lurie (El Sid), Bill Quinn (Hale), Margaret Avery (Doc Edford), Malcolm McDowell (Lord Talon)
The cyborg Cash goes to a wasteland doctor, wanting to know why her power circuits are being drained, only to learn that she is pregnant. She is then hunted by Anton Llewellyn, a Recycler who harvests cyborgs to sell their spare parts, who becomes even more interested when he learns of the baby. Aided by the reclusive cybernetic designer Evans, Cash heads in search of the mythical cyborg refuge Cytown. As Llewellyn and his mercenaries mount an onslaught on Cytown, Evans and Cash become the last hope of the town’s broken-down cyborgs.
Cyborg3 was the second of the sequels to Albert Pyun’s Jean-Claude Van Damme-starring kickboxing post-holocaust actioner Cyborg (1989). Both of the Cyborg sequels, Cyborg2: Glass Shadow (1993) and this, have the distinction of actually being better than the original – largely through having as little to do with it as possible. Both sequels were directed by Michael Schroeder.
Almost all reviewers dismiss both of the sequels as cheap throwaway fodder. To the contrary, and especially when placed up against Cyborg 1 and the rest of Pyun’s dreary B-budget kickboxing cyborg post-holocaust action films – Knights (1993), Heatseeker (1995), Omega Doom (1996) et al – Michael Schroeder’s films bristle with an intelligence. They are films where Schroeder dismisses post-holocaust chop suey and instead emphasises a darker realistic edge, character and an always-interesting play of science-fiction ideas. Among the range of post-holocaust cyborg action films, they stand above the throng with rare intelligence.
Cyborg3 has a central idea – that of a pregnant android – that sits exactly halfway between absurdity and being interesting. It is an idea that Michael Schroeder treats surprisingly seriously and deals with in a credible manner. The film is packed with an interesting play of ideas – little throwaway touches like the cyborg hooker (Rebecca Ferratti) who reads a credit card by slipping it between her fingers and tells the customer: “I’ve been with 51,227 men but I noticed you the moment you walked in.” Later Ferratti joins the army of the mechanically oppressed and stands up to assert “I used to be a pleasure unit. I’m not anymore.”
Cytown is filled with a fascinating collection of characters, including malfunctioning androids with no legs and another with no hands that plays a piano. There’s a lovely written scene where Khrystyne Haje encourages the ruthless android sidekick Andrew Bryniarski to remember his past as a medic. Less interesting is the standard B-budget action climax that travels back into standard Pyun territory and the cliche happy ending on a banal: “A new golden era was about to begin.”
The film features B-movie regulars Richard Lynch, who seems to be having a good deal of fun, and Malcolm McDowell who appears in all of one scene yet receives top credit-billing on the video cover. The film stars Zach Galligan, who was a one-hit wonder with Gremlins (1984) a decade earlier and has vanished since. Khrystyne Haje inherits the role of the female android Cash from Angela Jolie – the only point of connection with the previous sequel. Jolie was bland in the part but Haje is whiny and lacks a convincing toughness. She is the one area that the film falls down in. An unrecognisable William Katt proves a scene-stealer as the malfunctioning cyborg Decaf.