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Nemesis Reviews

Director Albert Pyun returns to the territory of one of his few box-office successes, the Jean-Claude Van Damme vehicle CYBORG, with this dismal action picture. Among the many elements it shares with that film, sadly, is the fact that it's not much good. Many years from now, the United States and Japan have merged and electronics are the name of the game in economics, politics and law enforcement. Alex Rain (Gruner) is a cop who has had so many of his injured body parts replaced with robotics that he is more machine than man, but he still has a conscience and is afflicted with growing doubts about a job that seems to serve technology more than people. When the pursuit of some computer-chip thieves nearly ends in his destruction at the hands of pro-human renegade Rosaria (Jennifer Gatti), Alex takes a year off to recuperate and has even more robotic implants before traveling to Baja, Mexico to terminate Rosaria. Shortly thereafter, he is approached by police chief Farnsworth (Tim Thomerson), who informs him that a computer chip containing plans for a Japanese/American summit's security has been stolen by a terrorist group called the Hammerheads. As Jared (Marjorie Monaghan), Alex's old partner, is one of the chief suspects, Farnsworth is anxious for the cyborg cop to take the assignment, and reveals it's an offer Alex can't refuse; during his latest surgery, an explosive was placed in his heart that Farnsworth will detonate if Alex doesn't retrieve the chip before the summit takes place. Reluctantly, Alex travels to Shang Loo, Java, shadowed by Farnsworth and his goons, Maritz (Brion James) and Germaine (Nicholas Guest). Alex is soon intercepted by Julian (Deborah Shelton) and her hulking bodyguard Michelle (Vince Klyn), who at first seem threatening but turn out to allies, and Julian removes a tracking device from Alex's cyborg eye. It turns out that Jared now only exists as a computerized image herself, and that the Hammerheads are an organization of humans out to stop a plot to replace world leaders with cyborg doubles--the actual information contained on the stolen chip. As it turns out, Farnsworth himself is a robot duplicate of the chief. After Alex decides to side with the Hammerheads, whose leader, Angie-Liv (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa), has also been tracking him through Shang Loo, Farnsworth and his thugs attempt repeatedly to kill him. Aided by feisty teenager Max Impact (Merle Kennedy), Alex ultimately manages to escape, destroy many of his pursuers and immolate Farnsworth, but the latter's robotic skeleton survives to continue the chase. As Alex and Max take off on a departing private plane, the metal creature leaps aboard and engages Alex in a terrible fight, but Alex forces it out a cargo hatch to its destruction. Much of NEMESIS is indistinguishable from the parade of futuristic thrillers that have marched through video stores in recent years, complete with a nihilistic attitude, human-robot conflict and a cost-efficient future (lots of scenes set in deserts, jungles and abandoned factories, with barely a hint of the technological advancement that ostensibly sets the story in motion). But the direct echoes of CYBORG are equally strong; French martial artist Gruner is a Van Damme look-and sound-alike, and NEMESIS boasts a similar bizarre nomenclature. Where the leading characters in CYBORG were named after brands of electric guitars, many of the male characters here are given female names and vice versa. Rebecca Charles' script offers few eccentricities beyond this touch, integrating a series of stock confrontations into an incoherent story full of unnecessarily complicated relationships and motivations. Profanity flows freely and the filmmakers clearly felt it necessary to end many scenes with some character making a terse little statement, as if to provide punctuation. To make matters worse, Pyun apparently felt it necessary to have some of the villains speak in foreign dialects so that Gruner's French patois wouldn't stand out, and thus every scene featuring James and Guest becomes the battle of the hokey accents. Only the admirably straight-faced Thomerson emerges unscathed. A couple of the action sequences are well-staged, and the makeup effects of cyborg heads splitting open to reveal machinery inside are startling, but there's no rooting interest or creative plotting to back them up. Too often, the only point of interest is to figure out what previous movie NEMESIS is borrowing from in a given scene, particularly during the climactic battle, a direct steal from THE TERMINATOR. (Graphic violence, extensive nudity, extensive profanity.)