Wednesday 31 January 2018

Nemesis (USA 1992: Dir Albert Pyun)

The first of the four Nemesis films directed by the Kurosawa trained (really!) Albert Pyun, a director who gives both Fred Olen Ray and Charles Band a run for their money in shoot ‘em quick, don’t-outstay-their-welcome exploitation movies. It was Pyun who gave us the Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle Cyborg back in 1989, and never a director to let a good idea go to waste, he rehashes lots of bits from that movie, plus The Terminator, Robocop, Blade Runner and the Spaghetti Western.

In fact Nemesis was originally designed to be a prequel to Cyborg but along the way this got dropped and the film developed into its own franchise. It was also intended to have a female cop in the lead but this idea also fell by the wayside. 

Nemesis introduces us to Alex (played with an Arnie-esque command of vocal cadence by French kickboxer Olivier Gruner), an already part cyborg cop, who at the beginning of the movie comes off worse after a run in with some human ‘information terrorists’ – they have information, they’re pretty terrible. Rescued by the LAPD he’s re-assembled with considerably less human in him than before and a bomb next to his heart due to detonate in three days. Suitably armed he's set off on his next and possibly final mission in Java, to do something with information and terrorists and stolen security plans and an ex-girlfriend Jared who is also a cyborg, while Farnsworth, the guy who sent him there, has been replaced by a cyborg and now wants to kill Alex  – sorry I couldn’t quite work out the finer details, but I don’t think it really matters.

From the opening shoot out, Nemesis is rather bonkers. I was transported back to the days of watching dodgy martial arts and Chuck Norris movies on VHS, such is the amount of gunfire, spent ammo, explosions and close ups of chiselled faces on display – and that’s just the women. You want to see three cyborgs blast away with heavy duty guns while facing each other over a distance of about fifteen feet – for a long time? Step this way. You want endless chop socky and over the top stunt work while rolling down mountains? Get in line. You want sparkling dialogue? Sorry, different movie.

Effects wise, breathe a sigh of relief – no CGI here. We get cyborgs with breakaway faces that reveal guns, a fantastic eyeball popping scene, and the cheesiest endoskeleton reveal that must have cost around 1/19th of the budget of a similar scene in The Terminator.

Olivier Gruner went on to a career starring in movies with one word titles. As Alex, Gruner wasn’t required to act much, but as a kick boxer he was probably annoyed that the director wanted him to use the gun more than his feet – maybe the insurance didn’t cover it. Other cast members worth noting are Tim Thomerson as mastermind Farnsworth - a veteran of TV whose career had started to slide with roles in films with one word titles and numbers after them – and spunky little Merle Kennedy as Max Impact (yes, I know) who crops up about half way through as a pint size renegade and assists Alex to evade cyborg death by doing lots of running, jumping and swimming.

You'll have to look elsewhere for coverage of Nemesis II - IV. Once is clearly enough for this keyboard slinger.

No comments:

Post a Comment