35 Years Later, Van Damme's Most Bizarre Sci-Fi B-Movie Lands on Prime

35 Years Later, Van Damme's Most Bizarre Sci-Fi B-Movie Lands on Prime
Image credit: Legion-Media

Don't write it off too soon. The critics may not have liked it, but it has its merits.


  • Jean Claude Van Damme remains a legend in the martial arts genre.
  • This movie could become a cult classic.
  • It just landed on Prime.

With the rise of streaming services, some interesting movies have been reclaimed from the bargain bin and offered to viewers as companies like Netflix and Prime look to expand their catalogs. After all, they can't survive on their big-budget productions alone.

This expansion of viewing options gives fans the chance to see movies that might have otherwise only been shown on obscure TV at 2 a.m. because they flopped the first time around.

But the passage of time can be kind in the TV and movie industry, and it's not uncommon for a movie once relegated to the "never again" list to find its way back into the spotlight and appeal to new audiences who see it as a snapshot in time.

This Jean-Claude Van Damme sci-fi flick is a good example.

Van Damme was once the most recognized martial arts movie star in the world

Jean-Claude Van Damme's first foray into the acting world was as an uncredited extra in the 1979 film Woman Between Wolf and Dog. In 1984, he appeared alongside Chuck Norris in Missing in Action.

A few years later, the muscle man from Brussels was the face of martial arts movies. As the star attraction in films like Bloodsport, Kickboxer and Universal Soldier, his acting talent wasn't obvious, but his fight sequences were awesome.

In a lesser known Cyborg set in a dystopian future, he starred as the mercenary Gibson Rickenbacker. His role in the movie was to protect the cyborg Pearl Prophet (Dayle Haddon) from Tremolo Fender (Vincent Klyn).

To say that the plot is confusing would be an understatement. The world is in chaos, a deadly disease threatens to end humanity, and Pearl – who is a cyborg for no apparent reason – has the cure.

It's one of those classic B-movie plots that seems to have been thought up at 4:45 on a Friday afternoon and hopefully saved by the action in the movie. Enter Jean-Claude Van Damme.

So bad, it's good? You decide

Cyborg runs only 82 minutes and was released in 1989 with a production budget of less than $500,000. It grossed $10 million, but was largely panned by critics. It scores 22% on the Tomatometer, but has an audience score of 31% on Rotten Tomatoes.

This means that it's generally considered not as good as another Van Damme movie, Timecop. But let's not forget that Timecop was actually a pretty decent movie if you don't compare it to the likes of Terminator.

As with Cyborg, context matters.

Obviously, a 31% Rotten Tomatoes score isn't great. But it's worth digging a little deeper before deciding whether to give this movie a try.

Most of the criticism centers around JCVD's wooden acting and the clichéd plot. But the Belgian is pretty much known for wooden acting and a clichéd plot. If you go into one of his movies expecting character development and complexity, you'll be disappointed.

35 Years Later, Van Damme's Most Bizarre Sci-Fi B-Movie Lands on Prime - image 1

However, if you want a lot of martial arts action with some gore thrown in, this movie ticks all the boxes.

Where to watch it

If the idea of getting in early (yes, I know it's 35 years old, but it's all but forgotten by now) sounds appealing, this relatively short and accidentally comic movie is one to watch.

It's now available on Prime, but you can also rent or buy it on Apple TV, or watch it with a subscription to Max.