A straight-to-vid sci-fi actioner, "Cyberjack" is flying the unusual route of limited fest exposure before landing in North American stores as "Virtual Assassin."

A straight-to-vid sci-fi actioner, “Cyberjack” is flying the unusual route of limited fest exposure before landing in North American stores as “Virtual Assassin.”

Baby-faced Michael Dudikoff toplines as Nick James, a guilt-ridden ex-cop drinking himself silly to forget losing his partner to a creepy baddie with a white fright wig and the inexplicable name of Nassim (Brion James looks scary, but he has a mouth full of marbles). Now wearing spray-on stubble and working as a janitor at a high-security research lab, Nick gets his chance for revenge when said stinker and his gang of designer villains show up there, intent on “cyberjacking” a super-virus developed by a top scientist (Jon Cuthbert) and his — what else? — lovely daughter (Suki Kaiser). Guess which one ends up a pawn in the resulting macho showdown.

The acting’s not much, and the script is notably lacking in wit, but the set-in-the-near-future saga looks way better than its $ 2 million budget, thanks to nifty special effects and solid set design. Unfortunately, it shoots its visual wad in the first third, with several chases and a big airbus explosion, and the rest settles into routine cat-and-mouse stuff, mostly in a single set.

The results are more claustrophobic than fun, and there’s zero characterization to fall back on in tight quarters (the hero likes baseball and hates bad guys). Still, the amiable-enough pic could click with suburban males and, unlike most such genre entries, there’s little here to offend females who get cyberjacked into watching it.

Cyberjack

(CANADIAN-JAPANESE)

Production

An Everest Communications (Vancouver) release of a Catalyst Films International production, in association with Fuji Eight Co. Produced by John A. Curtis. Executive producers, Curtis, Barry Collier, Masao Takayama. Directed by Robert Lee. Screenplay, Eric Poppen, John A. Curtis.

Crew

Camera (color), Allan Trow; editor, Derek Whelan; music, George Blondheim; production design, Richard Paris, Linda Del Rosario; art direction, Marina Dimakapolous; set decoration, David Sinclair, Neil Fleming; costume design, Susan Brouse; sound, Lindsay Bucknell; special visual effects, Paller Special Effects, Magic Camera Co.; associate producers, James Trow, Robert Straight; assistant director , Mike Rohl. Reviewed at Vancouver Film Festival, Oct. 2, 1995. Running time: 100 MIN.

With

With: Michael Dudikoff, Brion James, Suki Kaiser, Jon Cuthbert, James Thom, Topaz Hasfal-Schou, Garvin Cross, Dean McKenzie, Robert Straight, Chantel Tanguay.
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