Before ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL there was another ass-kicking lady robot with mesmerizing eyes…
Cyborg 2 (1993)
Director: Michael Schroeder
Stars: Angelina Jolie, Elias Koteas, Jack Palance
The only thing that can stop suicide bomber robot Angelina Jolie from destabilizing the entire planet is…love.
”After I saw it, I went home and got sick.”
That’s what Angelina Jolie would later say in an interview about the experience of watching CYBORG 2 for the first time. It’s not hard to see why Jolie—who was only 17 years old when this was shot (which makes the nudity-filled sex scene a little creepy)—would feel embarrassed. A cheesy B-movie of direct-to-video quality doesn’t exactly set you up for success. It’s also clear the actress was still finding her footing this early in her career, not only as an actor but as an action star. There’s one scene in particular where her character’s self-destruct function is accidentally activated that sees Jolie comically flailing about that’s particularly cringe-worthy. It’s a long way from her Oscar-worthy work, but altogether not too shabby a debut.
Unsurprisingly, Sandra Bullock was not onboard for SPEED 3.
As the title might suggest, CYBORG 2 is the sequel to the 1989 Jean-Claude Van Damme movie CYBORG. However, it’s a follow-up pretty much in name only. Van Damme appears (via footage from the first movie) in a brief dream sequence at the beginning of the film, but the characters and story are otherwise completely unconnected. CYBORG 2 takes place decades later, when two rival robotics companies have taken over the planet. When one corporation decides it’s time for a hostile takeover of the other, they create a new generation of cyborg filled with a biochemical explosive called Glass Shadow that would allow them to essentially infiltrate and suicide bomb the other company. But when one of the robots falls in love with her human handler, the two go on the run to escape.
Political correctness continues to ruin Hollywood.
It’s a silly premise, but one that’s surprisingly well-executed by filmmaker Michael Schroeder, who worked as an assistant director on everything from HIGHLANDER II: THE QUICKENING to HONEY, I BLEW UP THE KID. Schroeder does what he can to make the most out of what was clearly a lacking budget and create a vision of the future that’s slick and interesting. But that doesn’t stop the film from having a number of memorable goofy moments thanks to its script, from cyborg bounty hunters with narcissistic rage to a street fight that inexplicably takes place between two active submarine propellers to a voyeuristic sex scene that is literally explosive.
Unfortunately, the one thing instantly makes everything worse is the terrible score, which sounds like music from a bad 80s video game. It sucks the seriousness out of every scene and amplifies any unintentional comedy, of which there is plenty.
It’s…The Claw! Nothing can stop The Claw!
Jolie does her best with what she’s given as the title robot, but thankfully she’s backed up by two veteran actors.
Elias Koteas (who will always be Casey Jones to me) stars as Jolie’s human sidekick, who is awkwardly portrayed as part mentor/father figure and part lover. His character is pretty much solely defined by his desire to bang a cyborg. It’s all we really ever learn about him; from one of his earliest scenes, where he asks Siri to remind him what the penalty is for having sex with a robot, to his climactic emotional speech where he waxes poetic about how sexually attracted he is to Jolie even though it’d be like sticking your junk in a toaster.
Koteas’ character is also notable for the fact that he brings absolutely nothing to the table. He’s supposed to be Jolie’s martial arts trainer who taught her everything she knows, but he instead spends the entire film repeatedly getting his ass kicked until she saves him at the last minute.
Paging Mr. Pitt… Mr. Brad Pitt to the front, please…
Alas, the real hero of the movie is CITY SLICKERS star and one-armed push-up guru Jack Palance. Palance is featured on the poster, but nearly his entire performance consists of him as a disembodied voice randomly talking to characters through their televisions. Palance has great vocal prowess, so it works out pretty well, especially when he gets to rant and rave and say things like, “Remember that the difference between champ and chump is U!” The actor finally makes a brief appearance in-person at the end and it’s well worth the wait. When it seems like our heroes are done for, Palance walks out of nowhere carrying a giant gun, says “If you want to dine with the devil, you need a long spoon!” and then immediately kills everyone.
The only acceptable way to reboot this franchise.
In fact, Palance spends pretty much the entire film helping Jolie and Koteas escape danger at every turn. And at the end we finally learn why: he’s also a cyborg who fell in love with a human and he vowed to always help other flesh-and-metal romances. He believes in love so much that even though the two fugitives should be trying to escape as quickly as possible, Palance gives them wedding rings and insists that they take time off to have a wedding night, if you know what I mean.
This leads to one of the unsexiest sex scenes of all time, not because of anything Jolie and Koteas do, but because the filmmakers decide that for maximum emotional effect, they need to continually cut back to Jack Palance looking at a picture of his dead wife and crying. It’s like the cinematic version of a cold shower:
- Hot sex with Angelina Jolie.
- Jack Palance longingly staring a photo.
- Hot sex with Angelina Jolie.
- Curly from CITY SLICKERS crying and hugging a picture frame.
Hey, it’s still a step up from making out with her brother. Or Billy Bob Thornton.
It’s an odd amount of sentiment for a movie about killer robots, but CYBORG 2 seems to be more interested in being a romantic fairy tale more than an action movie. There’s not really a final showdown for our heroes. Both Jolie and Koteas simply run away at the end and leave their geriatric friend to do all the killing. The pair escape to the deserts of Africa where we see them live out their entire life, the human growing old and the robot staying young to take care of him. The final shot of the movie is a 17-year old Angelina Jolie snuggling with a wrinkled, elderly man.
That’s sweet and all, but can we please bring Van Damme back to kick just a little ass?
Jack Palance being Jack Palance (and other good one-liners).
An explosive sex scene and the best action and fight sequences.
Plenty of gratuitous robot nudity.
Bite her shiny metal ass! Buy this movie here!
Take a shot or drink every time:
- You see Angelina Jolie’s cyborg POV
- Jolie does gymnastics while fighting
- Jolie has to save Colt from getting his ass kicked
- Someone mentions the “Velma Incident”
- Bench is concerned about his face
Double shot if:
- There’s a flashback featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme
Thanks to Adam and Ben for suggesting this week’s movie!
Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.