Featuring a very unique visual style, Nemesis is a strange cyberpunk movie directed by Albert Pyun. His movies are somewhere between so bad they are good and genuinely sturdy B science fiction features. After exploring the subject of cyborgs in the 1989 hit of the same name starring Van Damme, we will be meeting them once again. The movie follows Alex Rain, a hardboiled detective living in limbo between law and crime, cyborgs and humans, and ultimately, life and death. The movie is reminiscent of all those popular eighties science fiction classics like RoboCop and Terminator. And I have to say that the action sequences are surprisingly exciting and robust. Especially for this type of production. We also have some Aliens and Escape from New York elements, just to complete the picture of a well-rounded rip-off.
I still can’t get over just how good and futuristic Nemesis looks. The scenes where Alex is in the desert or Brazil look simply stunning. The combinations of colors, framing and just sheer fucking vibes are really memorable. This is a true nineties adventure and we will be visiting a lot of different locations. Although most of the action will take place in Hawaii, taking advantage of the beautiful nature of Pyun’s home state. And those fucking sunglasses. Sunglasses that soon will become iconic as this movie spawned no less than four sequels. We will also see an array of futuristic weapons that look really cool and like something stolen from a much bigger production.
Meet Alex Rain, a veteran bounty hunter who used to work for Los Angeles Police Department. He’s still doing jobs from them and we find him on one such mission. After he managed to kill one of the rogue cyborgs Alex finds himself on the run from a group of terrorists. After shooting him multiple times, they leave him for dead in the rubble. However, using the latest technology, doctors are able to save his life. Now, Alex is almost more robot than human and a new mission. To find that same terrorist group that almost killed him all those years ago. What he will uncover will change his opinion not just about cyborgs but also about the world.
Same as with Cyborg some three years earlier, the story of how Nemesis came to be is as odd as it gets. The lead was supposed to be a 13-year old girl, something that was subsequently changed. The producers wanted to show off their newfound star French kickboxer Olivier Gruner. He was quite good here with his subdued and stoic performance. We will also have the opportunity to see Deborah Shelton, former Miss USA giving one hell of a performance. Actually, almost everybody here gave surprisingly committed and believable renditions. Nemesis feels like a noir movie complete with a morally ambiguous and tormented detective, struggling to remain sane. Not to mention the fucking trench coat. The storytelling is a bit disjointed but you’ll be able to follow this sprawling conspiracy as it slowly unfolds.
Starting with the opening sequence that consisted of solid ten minutes of almost non-stop shooting, Nemesis provides loads of action. It feels like something a thirteen-year-old boy would love seeing along with obligatory nudity. The concepts of what it means to be human and whether cyborgs will take over one day are just enough vague not to burden you too much. And if you want to go deeper, you’re free to do so. The best thing about this movie is not the atmosphere or the appealing visual style but a vibe. A vibe that you can feel even from a thirty-year distance. If you want to find out what type of vibe it is, you better check out Nemesis. It definitely stood the test of time.
Finally, if you’re looking for similar movies, check out Split Second, Hardware, Trancers and Johnny Mnemonic. And if you’re craving some old school B movie action with cyborgs take a look at Cyborg Cop franchise. I also can’t help mentioning two really cheesy similarly-themed movies Hands of Steel and Heatseeker. The latter is directed by Albert Pyun and it follows a kickboxing champion is forced to fight cyborgs in a tournament. It doesn’t get better than that.