COMPANY: Imperial Entertainment
RUNTIME: 95 mins
PLOT: In the future, where the average person now has various cybernetic enhancements, one cop questions his humanity and leaves the Force in pursuit of a major conspiracy that could change the world forever.
REVIEW: After recently watching Ghost in the Shell 2.0 and Blade Runner, as well as the Mystery Science Theater version of the mucho-low budget movie Future War, I was still in the mood to watch more movies of that kind, and a person on Twitter recommended that I watch and review Nemesis – a low budget 1992 sci-fi/action flick directed by Albert Pyun, who some of you may know as the director and writer of many low budget movies of various genres throughout the 80's and 90's, which include but is not limited to Alien from L.A., Dollman, Cyborg, Kickboxer 2 and 4, and The Sword and the Sorcerer.
I searched and searched but couldn't find the DVD of the movie for a reasonable price so settled instead for buying a super-cheap VHS copy and dusting off my old VCR to watch it. I forgot how awesomely oldskool VHS tapes are; back when you had to watch 10 minutes+ of trailers at the beginning and could only skip them by fast forwarding, back when lines would come up on the screen and you either had to fix the tracking or just deal with it due to damage on the tape. I'm thinking I should check out some more of these older low budget flicks on VHS instead of DVD or BluRay, cause if anything I think it added to the overall grittiness of the movie.
As for the movie itself – while not perfect, it was pretty darn enjoyable. It was way ahead of it's time, dealing with aspects that wouldn't be made popular until Ghost in the Shell and the The Matrix came along. Alex Rain is the name of the main character here and he's a human detective with quite a large number of cybernetic enhancements, but while on the trail of some cyber hackers led by his ex-partner he starts to uncover a much larger conspiracy that involves people in power being secretly killed and replaced by cyborg duplicates in a move by cyborgs to take over the world and turn humans into their slaves. Along the way, he constantly has to keep getting upgraded with more mechanical parts due to the state he's left in after some of the action scenes don't go his way. These tuneups have become so commonplace that he starts to worry about just how human he is or isn't anymore. At what point does he stop being human and starts being just a machine?
The movie starts off on a 10-minute long action scene in the rubble of Los Angeles that doesn't go even 5 seconds without gunfire or explosions happening, and that kind of fast pace doesn't let up much until the credits roll at the end. The entire thing is filled with non-stop well-choreographed and over-the-top action scenes, and intense elaborate shoot-outs (some of which have been outright copied by future movies such as Underworld), that culminates in a massive action sequence in the jungle that would make even Rambo and the Predators jealous for missing out on. To make those sequences even better, everything is done using practical effects and thus these action scenes were, to me anyway, more interesting to watch then almost any big budget Hollywood CGI-generated monstrosity from this day in age. Only detractor is one scene towards the end uses some really bad stop-motion for a fight scene between Alex Rain and a T-800 ripoff in the cargo area, and on the outside of, a futuristic jet as it zooms through the sky.
When one of those drooling-good action scenes isn't happening, there is still plenty going on to keep you interested such as nudity and robotic cyborg parts being displayed in gory fashion. It also takes the time between action scenes to set this world up and give us most of our information in regards to the way the world is and who all the major players of the movie are. However, it certainly doesn't help that pretty much all of the actors are really bad and the lead actor has such a thick Jean-Claude Van-Damme style accent that it's hard to pick out what he's saying a lot of the time, and when you can understand it, it's very stilted and broken up. However, the most important lines he will say – some classic hilarious one-liners – are crystal clear for all to enjoy.
In this future world, most of the world seems to lay in ruins. Despite the fact that it's established early on that people still live in Los Angeles and places such as hotels are still in business (since the first action scene starts off in one), most exterior shots show the city in ruins, with crumbling buildings and massive debris everywhere, and a desolate desert wasteland closing in on all sides. Adding to the atmosphere of an almost post-apocalyptic world is the fact that every exterior shot throughout the first half of the movie has a reddish tint added to it, giving the effect that the sun is dying. At least until Alex Rain travels to Japan, and then for some reason the sun and landscape are normal there, so maybe it's only America that's on the brink of being wiped out. That's something that's never really made clear.
Musical scores could potentially make or break a movie and luckily here it really fits. It's kind of an almost Native American style music mixed with detective noir kind of music and oddly enough, that fits really well with a futuristic cyberpunk flick, though you wouldn't believe it to hear someone say so. Then once Alex Rain goes to Japan, the music changes more to traditional Japanese-style music. Right from the opening moments, the musical score really stands out and sets the mood perfectly, and never once feels out of place during any scene of the movie. More often then not, it's the stand-out aspect in just about every scene. I find that low budget movies tend to have the best, most over-looked scores and it sucks that they almost never get officially released like bigger-budget theatrical movie scores do.
There's not really much more I can say about it. That's why I hate reviewing action movies, because I'm not able to articulate my thoughts as well as I can when there's some big monster stomping around or an alien invasion force going on that I can focus large chunks of my review on. However I told some people that I'd review this one, so I kind of had to follow through. I've been told that there are three sequels to this movie, but to stay away because none of them have anything at all to actually do with this movie and all are quite bad. However, being the sucker for bad movies that I am, and the fact that they're all written and directed by the same guy as this movie, I think I won't listen and will go track them down and watch them anyway, and since I've reviewed this movie, you can expect eventual reviews of the sequels as well.
9/10 rooms in the Psych Ward