Coming soon to a video store near you: “American Cyborg: Steel Warrior,” a plodding and hackneyed B-movie adventure that’s currently going through the motions of regional theatrical release. Only the least discriminating action fans will take notice.
Low-budget, filmed-in-Israel Cannon release is yet another reworking of riffs from the “Mad Max” and “Terminator” pix. Set in the bleak, blue-grayish ruins of an American city — Charleston, according to an early visual cue — story begins 17 years after a devastating nuclear war. Human survivors, most of them rendered sterile by radiation exposure, are ruled by computers and policed by killer cyborgs.
Underground scientists manage to produce a viable fetus through in vitro fertilization, thanks to Mary (Nicole Hansen), a plucky and bosomy young woman who may be “the only source of ova” left on Earth. After the meanest of the cyborg meanies (John Ryan) attacks the rebel lab, Mary escapes, carrying away the fetus in a portable incubator.
Heroine’s only hope is to make it across the devastated city, to rendezvous with European rebels during their brief docking at a coastal port. Heroine’s only help comes from Austin (Joe Lara), your standard-issue, post-apocalypse hero-hunk. Austin defends Mary against mutant cannibals, transvestite muggers and assorted other riffraff while the killer cyborg relentlessly pursues them both.
It’s supposed to be a big surprise when, two-thirds of the way through, Mary and Austin discover that Austin himself is a cyborg. As it turns out, however, Lara (best known as the star of the 1989 telepic “Tarzan in Manhattan”) seems a lot more human than Hansen, whose stiff, awkward line readings provide the pic’s only comic relief.
Neither the supporting performances nor the production values are any better than they have to be.
According to production notes, director Boaz Davidson (“Lemon Popsicle”) shot most of “American Cyborg” in “a deserted factory complex outside Tel Aviv.” And that’s exactly what it looks like onscreen, despite game efforts by set dressers to provide some visual variety. Indeed, two or three different scenes appear to have been shot inside the same room. But maybe that’s just because once you’ve seen one room in a deserted factory complex, you’ve seen them all.