It was a very cold day today, and windy as hell, too. Normally after I've been home for a few hours weather amnesia will set in and I'll start to get itchy to get out of the house, whether that's for dinner at a restaurant or a quick walk around the block, but with the wind audibly whistling outside my window my resolve to stay indoors was holding strong. So I hatched a plan to make my favorite winter meal - a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich - and hibernate for the night.
I had originally planned to watch something dignified (you know me; I always keep it classy), but once I had decided to eat comfort food for dinner, well, it only made sense to watch a comfort movie. And lo and behold, I discovered that Netflix streaming had some Jean Claude Van Damme movies I hadn't seen in years. Jean Claude Van Damme is basically the best. So: Cyborg and soup it was.
Now up front, I want to be clear: Cyborg isn't perfect. First of all, the only cyborg in the movie is barely a character, and she has no cool robot powers to speak of. (I guess her eyes can read a bunch of data, to which I say: pffffft.) The film's structure is littered with so many unnecessary flashbacks that I thought about tweeting "Cyborg? More like Flashbackborg" before I realized that I was the only person who would find that funny. If you don't like cheap 80's movies this is definitely not for you - the ruined Atlanta of the future is nothing more than a pile of construction debris in front of a matte painting.
But some of those not-so-great things are secretly pretty great things. For example, the movie has absolutely no idea about what time period it's taking place in - it's supposed to be set in the future, after a plague has ravaged the world, but the aesthetic is as much old school pirate as it is steampunk. But it's mix and match design leads to pretty funny visuals, such as this scene, where a steroid freak wearing dreadlocks and chain mail crucifies JCVD to a ship's mast:
But focusing on the film's production design is like focusing on the bun of a McDonald's hamburger. Did you not see that image of JCVD doing the splits over the barbarian in a sewer up top? This is a movie where Jean Claude Van Damme does the splits over a barbarian in a sewer. Look, I can understand being apathetic about a movie where grown men stab each other in the face in a sewer, but the splits into a face stabbing - how can you not love that?
So how great is JCVD in this movie? Well, a picture says a thousand words:
That's right, he's sexy Peter Pan levels of good. Look at that come hither look. That is a man who is not afraid to side eye danger.
Of course, a hero is only as strong as his villain. So how good is the main villain in Cyborg?
Jackpot: he's the sort of actor who doesn't know the meaning of "turn it down a notch". He will not object to wearing crazy contacts, he can open his mouth up like an angry hippopotamus and he loves screaming. If you were the director and you told him "the final fight scene of this movie is going to take place during nonstop rain" he would say to you "that's cool, but it would be better if you added a whole bunch of lightning effects in post." And you would listen to him, because he is right. He is always right.
Admittedly, this is not the best good movie JCVD has ever made, nor is it the best bad movie he ever made. But you know what? I kind of burned that grilled cheese sandwich and it was still goddamn delicious.