KICKBOXERS! CYBORGS! GANGSTAS! ALIENS! Familiar tropes, strange takes... always unique!
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Sunday, July 6, 2014
Nemesis (Albert Pyun, 1992)
I can’t even say how many times I’ve watched Nemesis since I first discovered it on tape, and like with many other movies it’s been an interesting road from that crappy fullscreen, low resolution version to the glorious HD version in correct ratio that premiere just a few weeks ago. I’ve been a fan of director Albert Pyun as long as I can remember, and I tried so many times in the dawn of the Internet to find him, to mail him, to talk to him. I guess I was a little stalker at the time! I didn’t succeed, until he showed up and became a fan favorite on Facebook and since then - and some years before that - people have slowly started to recognize his talents. But I was the first one to appreciate him for real, in a non-ironic way. Don’t forget that.
Nemesis is an oddity, it’s actually quite far away from the typical DTV adventures, mostly by being superior in every way possible to them all. Pyun is brave enough to continue his interesting mix of arty farty with mainstream action and creates something as unique as a Cyborg Noir with a big dash of John Woo. But before it was cool. It tells the story of Alex Rain (Olivier Gruner - sporting no less than 4 % body fat at the time!), a former LA cop who was shot to pieces and now is a half-machine surviving by smuggling data. The government finds him again and forces him, with the help of a bomb in his body, to make one last mission into hostile territory - but Alex finds out there’s more sinister plans going on behind his back…
Yeah, add a little bit of RoboCop, Terminator, Escape from New York and… Johnny Mnemonic (before it was made!) and you have Nemesis. But it’s not just a copycat film, a rip-off, even if a couple of scenes might be a little similar to its more famous counterparts. Pyun creates a very mysterious atmosphere, almost a poetic stance on the cyborg genre with some interesting gender bender qualities. Even Alex, being the macho hero he is, manages to come out as a good man, a soft-spoken, sensitive person - even if he’s half-cyborg. Many of the character names are switched, which means men have female names and the opposite - or just using very vague or unisex-themed names. The women are strong, sometimes crazy, and in the middle of it is a lengthy scene of soon-to-be-star Thomas Jane doing a completely nude scene. What’s not to love with this film?
But the action is what makes this film stand out. The action scenes are so vivid, so creative, so fucking crazy it’s amazing to watch. Using a lof steadicam and twisted angles, slow-mo and gorgeous wide shots of the mayhem, this is still stands out as one of the best in the genre. It’s so unique and cool that some of the sequences and ideas has been “stolen” by big Hollywood films, and even if Nemesis itself takes some inspiration from Hong Kong’s heroic bloodshed genre, it manages to take on the genre by itself and never ever becomes boring to watch.
Nemesis is a movie that has to be seen to be believed. And that’s by the new blu-ray from Platinum Cult Edition, a distribution company based in Germany, is so welcome! For the first time we get to see Nemesis in it’s original ratio and in a very fine HD transfer. Also included is the Japanese edit, probably ripped from a laserdisc and low resolution version of the very obscure new cut, with added digital effects - I haven’t seen any of them yet, but the box also includes HD versions of Nemesis 2, 3 and 4! I’ve only had time to watch part 2 yet, and it looks very good!
It’s wonderful to live in a time where movies like this gets the royal treatment from it’s distributor and Platinum Cult Edition have done a marvelous job together with Albert Pyun himself to give these films a new life. They REALLY deserve it! You can buy the box here, it’s worth every dime!