Cyborg Cop (Reviewed by Lisa Marie Bowman)

In this 1993 film, John Rhys-Davies plays Professor Kissel.  The professor is a mad scientist with a German accent who has taken over a small island in the Caribbean.  From his compound, he has developed a process by which he can turn anyone into a cyborg!  The cyborgs follow his orders and …. well, it’s never quite clear what exactly Professor Kissel plans to do with the cyborgs.  I guess he just wants to keep them around so that they can do random evil things.

DEA agent Philip Ryan is captured by Kissel and transformed into one of those cyborgs!  However, Philip has a brother named Jack (played by martial artist David Bradley).  Jack used to work for the government until he was disillusioned when one of his investigations went terribly wrong.  However, Jack is willing to come out of retirement to save his brother.  Teaming up with a journalist named Cathy (Alonna Shaw), Jack infiltrates Kissel’s compound and battles the cyborgs.  Along the way, Cathy falls in love with Jack.  I’m not sure why that happens as Jack tends to be a bit surly and self-absorbed.  Indeed, he and Cathy somehow manage to have not just zero but less than zero romantic chemistry.

Does this movie sound dumb?  Well, that’s because it was pretty dumb.  It was directed by Sam Firstenberg, who directed the first two American Ninja films.  And it stars David Bradley, who starred in the last three American Ninja films.  The American Ninjas were fun but Cyborg Cop just kind of drags.  A huge part of the problem is that David Bradley was a good martial artist but he was a less than impressive actor.  Seeing as how Jack is trying to save his brother from being turned into an emotionless robot, Cyborg Cop calls for a bit more acting than the American Ninja films did.  Unfortunately, it’s hard to make a film about human emotions when your lead actor isn’t capable of showing them.  It doesn’t help that Jack is written as being someone who is always in a rather foul mood.  Also, from the minute he lands in the islands, he wears a fanny pack around his waist and it just looks so utterly ridiculous.  It’s hard to take a fight seriously when one of the combatants is wearing a leather fanny pack.  The other big issue is that it takes forever to actually get to the cyborg action.  For some reason, the film tries to generate some suspense about what Kissel’s plan is, despite the fact that the word “cyborg” is right there in the title!

On the plus side, the film does feature John Rhys-Davies playing a mad scientist and he’s just the type of cheerfully theatrical actor who can do justice to the role of someone who spends most of his time ranting about how much smarter he is than everyone else in the world.  Rhys-Davies, who is best known for playing Indiana Jones’s friend Sallah and for playing both Gimili and the talking tree in The Lord of the Rings, appears to have had a lot of fun as Prof. Kissel and it’s fun to watch him in the role.  This is a case where most people watching the film will proudly cheer for the bad guy because the bad guy is so much more entertaining than the good guy.

Cyborg Cop somehow led to two sequels.  Someday, I may watch them.  It depends on whether or not John Rhys-Davies is involved.

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