Cybernator (1991)

The operative word here is “cheap.” You can tell it from the film quality (although I suppose it probably doesn’t help that the available copies all seem to be VHS rips); the cast of unknowns; the prevalence of location shooting; the plain, white rooms in so many indoors scenes; and the very fake looking weapons. […]

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Vicious Lips (1986)

(aka, Pleasure Planet, Lunar Madness) [Spoilers Ahead] Who knew the future had Eighties’ Girl Bands? Not to mention big hair, wild New Wave fashions and an incredible club scene. Look, some of these movies, you look at them and wonder, what were they thinking?  There’s an interesting movie here somewhere, but it just didn’t get […]

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Nemesis 4: Death Angel (1996)

(aka, Nemesis 4: City of Angels) I think the phrase we need here is “cinematic whiplash.” For anyone who saw Nemesis 3: Time Lapse (1996) before watching Nemesis 4, that is. Now the whole Nemesis series was the brainchild of the prolific low budget purveyor of kickboxing cyborgs and high energy action films, Albert Pyun.  His […]

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Cool Air (2006)

I’ll admit it.  I’m definitely in the minority on this one. But, yes, I liked Cool Air. Although it definitely isn’t going to please everyone. It is, however, a strange and dreamlike adaptation of a relatively short and minor tale by H.P. Lovecraft, which is almost play-like in its distillation to something perhaps slightly less than […]

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Nemesis 3: Time Lapse (1996)

(aka, Nemesis III: Prey Harder) I find it very hard to believe, but Nemesis 3 was shot back-to-back with Nemesis 2. After all, Nemesis 3 is actually pretty good. And Nemesis 2, well,… Isn’t. Yeah, it’s still a kickboxing Cyborg movie, but it is vastly more watchable than its predecessor.  There wasn’t much to Nemesis […]

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Nemesis 2: Nebula (1995)

…And once again we’re back to Albert Pyun. Albert’s directorial career is a rather curious mixture of impressive displays of technical skill, uninspiring assignments, minuscule budgets, dubious casting choices (not necessarily his), flashy action, the occasional bad idea, true inventiveness, and, curiously, art house ambitions.  You can’t call him a bad director, even if some […]

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Adrenalin: Fear the Rush (1996)

If there is one great truth about the film industry that you need to remember, it is that there is always someone out there who will go out of his way to mess up a perfectly good film.

Now, if you’ve missed that, you need only look at all the director’s cuts out there, often for films which did badly in the theaters, but which their directors still believed in (just to name a few, Ultraviolet, The Chronicles of Riddick and, of course, the Snyder Cut).  Or you could go out and buy the Criterion collection version of Brazil and watch the so-called “Love conquers all” cut, which, fortunately, was only shown on television.

Now I mention this because Adrenalin: Fear the Rush usually gets appalling reviews from the critics.

So it shocked me a bit to find a review from The Schlock Pit which called this film by direct-to-video auteur Albert Pyun “A Superlative Surge of Pyun.”

I know, some of you are thinking, there’s always someone who loves a film, no matter how bad it is (although sometimes I suspect that person may be the director’s mother).  However, there’s a lot more going on here than that.

The basics are simple enough.  Pyun, working from his own script, shot a taut, nearly documentary-style thriller, following a team of cops through a maze of streets, tunnels and crumbling buildings, in an attempt to stop a deadly serial killer who doesn’t seem all that human.

The problem was that Dimension Films had the contract to distribute the film, so their head, Bob Weinstein, shot new footage which didn’t match the original, slapped new music on it, cut over half an hour from the original film and crammed it all together into a nearly incomprehensible mess.

This is the film the critics hate.  And frankly, I have no intention of seeing it.

Not ever.

But it isn’t the only version that’s out there.

Pyun has talked about releasing his director’s cut, but, frankly, I doubt if we’ll ever see it, particularly now that he is desperately ill.

However, there is another.

The Euro version of the film is twenty minutes longer and has very little of Bob Weinstein’s new footage.  It doesn’t entirely match Albert’s original intent for the film.

But it is awfully close.

Now I need to point out that it wouldn’t exactly be a shock if Pyun had made a terrible film.  He’s had a fascinating career of making endless direct to video films for very little money.  And some of them, like Heatseeker (1995) are seriously bad.

But then, if someone hires a director to turn a kickboxing tournament in Manila into a movie, then I doubt if even Orson Welles could have done much with it.

And certainly a lot of Albert’s many post-apocalpytic or kickboxing films are a bit…uninspired.

But at his best, in films like Dollman (1991) or Omega Doom (1996), he brought something interesting and unexpected into his work that lifts them above the endless herd of Nineties vintage robotic kickboxers, post-Apocalyptic nomads and French speaking martial artists.

And then there are a few — only a few, mind you — like Deceit (1992) or Invasion, or The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper (2014), which are bold filmic experiments of the sort that you’d normally expect from some film student or Indie director.

It’s a strange, one of a kind career.  And he deserves a lot more respect than he usually gets.

This time around, Natasha Henstridge, trying to build a post-Species career for herself, stars as a rookie cop in a broken down world who only signed up in the hopes of getting her son safely across the border and into the what is supposedly future Boston.  One suspects this mostly came from the Weinstein version, but it is handled nicely enough.

Only, when she and her partner (played by Xavier Declie not long before he didn’t become a major kickboxing action star) go to check up on another police patrol which ran into trouble, they find lots of dead cops and a killer who moves ridiculously fast.

Another team, led by Christopher Lambert, arrives to assist, but things go from bad to even worse when they corner the mysterious suspect in an old prison.

But what none of them realize is that there is another team after him, a squad of hazmat suited special forces soldiers who have to stop the killer before he becomes infectious with a disease which might destroy what’s left of this horrible world…

Now I need to point out that there are very few answers here.  If you aren’t happy unless your science fiction painstakingly explains every detail you will not like Adrenalin: Fear the Rush.  There are a lot of hints about who and what the killer is — but they are never explained to us in much detail, and we know the leader of the Hazmat team is lying and can’t beleive everything he tells us.

But you really don’t need to know any of this.  Although the film does gradually release a series of hints and shocking revelations.

Not that they explain much.

Instead, this is an intense, brutal film, in which our desperate team pushes its way deep and deeper into the mess, with tight intense shots and the great widescreen cinematography that Pyun and his regular DP, George Mooradian, always insisted upon.  It’s a dark thrill ride, where danger can leap out unexpected from any murky corner, and the most frightening moment comes when we realize that there is someone standing perfectly still next to another character.

Although those eyes and teeth are pretty creepy.

For those who enjoy a good action movie as much as they enjoy mystery or horror, Adrenalin: Fear the Rush deserves a look.

But only if you can find the Euro cut.

You know, the one that’s an hour and a half long?…

Buy from Amazon (Region 2 of the 90 minute Euro version — paid link):



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This time featuring a brilliant lost film by Brett Piper…

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The Outsider (1997)

(aka, Gangster World) And once again, we’re looking at an eccentric kickboxing martial arts-heavy science fiction thriller which Avi Nesher produced. While he isn’t quite as interesting a filmmaker as Albert Pyun, he produced, directed, or wrote a few genre films which are notably strange, not to mention two absolutely bizarre films, She (1984) and […]

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Omega Doom (1996)

A mysterious stranger drifts into a little town controlled by two rival gangs who reached an uneasy truce.  Before long, he’s manipulated the gangs into fighting each other… If you’re thinking this sounds somewhat…familiar, there is a reason for this: It is. Now it should take long to figure out that this is a version […]

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Heatseeker (1995)

Villain plans.

They’re such a problem.

You get so carried away with your evil schemes that you just don’t notice that your overall plan just doesn’t make any sense.

Consider poor Tsui Tung.  He is so eager to show off just how good his company’s latest cybernetic implants are, so he kidnaps the world champion and forces him to fight in the usual big Martial Arts competition.  Because the only way they can show everyone they’re the best is to have the champ fight their cyborg fighter.

And, of course, he’s so totally powered up, he should easily beat anyone, cyborg or not.

So, naturally, now that we’ve coerced the hero into fighting, we’ll have to try to blackmail him into losing…

Against the fighter Tsui thinks is good enough to beat anyone you throw against him.


Of course, that’s the simple version  There are a lot more twists and turns thrown in that make it more complicated — but don’t really help it all make more sense.

Let’s face it, if this is how you do the whole evil genius thing, then your plans are going to get so twisted up they’ll start cancelling out your own schemes.

Now let’s get this straight: this is a kickboxing movie.  It’s also by Albert Pyun who made a lot of kickboxing movies, of which this may be the worst.  After all, Pyun’s work can be quite good at times (like Dollman) and he’s even been known to do some very unexpected films like Deceit, Invasion and The Interrogation of Cheryl Cooper.

But he sure loved kickboxers.

Like a lot of Martial Arts movies since Bruce Lee made Enter the Dragon, we’ve got a big Martial Arts contest as the background for the film, with various cyber-enhanced fighters facing off against each other.

Mind you, they all just look like regular fighters.

At least until they’re injured, revealing the metal bits underneath.

You’ve got to admit, though, that will save you a lot of money.

The hero is the one fully human fighter left in the sport — and the big Champion.  We all know it’s a ripoff of Matheson’s story “Steel,” but don’t expect Albert to admit it as he didn’t pay royalties.

The problem is that this all plays out like watching a kickboxing tournament on TV, except that we know all the fights were staged.  We don’t get to meet most of the other fighters, and only two of them, other than the hero, really get fleshed out at all.  Instead, a bunch of unknowns kill each other off with everything shot in the middle distance.

Just don’t expect the usual quick cuts and closeups we expect in a fight movie as that might make it all more dramatic and interesting.

Heatseeker was actually shot in the Philippines — probably because there was a kickboxing tourney there.  A large part of the story takes place in “New Manila,” but I have to wonder whether the Philippines really appreciated the advertising as the hero is robbed there and literally left naked.

Somehow I doubt if they put that on their billboards.

Add to all this general dullness a particularly sticky sort of romance, with the girl apparently doing all sorts of inexplicable things to save the hero.  Or is it because the bad guy has some sort of control chip in her neck?  It probably doesn’t matter one way or the other.

Oh, and that title?  Someone in the film calls the fighters “heatseekers,” but that’s never repeated — or explained.

The worst part is that I’m reasonably sure there are worse cyborg kickboxer movies out there.  After all, no matter how bad a film is, there always seems that there’s one even worse out there somewhere.

And I usually get stuck watching them…

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