Blu-ray Review: NEMESIS

Flashing back to video store action classic courtesy of MVD’s Rewind Collection

If you EVER entered a video rental store and made it to the science fiction or fantasy section, you definitely came across some of Albert Pyun`s cinematic opuses. The art on the VHS covers were always dynamic: SWORD AND THE SORCERER with it`s Frazetta-esque painting, CAPTAIN AMERICA with the good Captain coming straight for us (and for once the suit was comic-book accurate!), CYBORG with new action star JCVD facing down a gang of badass post apocalyptic thugs and NEMESIS, with cool painted Oliver Gruner ( think 50% JCVD, 50% Dolph Lundgren ) as a sleek trench-coat wearin`, machine gun totin` terminator with a  babe in the background holding an even bigger hand cannon to sweeten the deal.

Well, courtesy of MVD we now have NEMESIS in a remastered, special edition Blu-ray / DVD set, packaged in a retro looking slipcase with that selfsame cover, with a ‘worn’ look and adorned with video store `stickers`.

NEMESIS is the kind of `serious` 80`s sci-fi film where everyone wears sunglasses and you know what the hero’s thinking because of his serious, baritone voice over.

Before I continue I just want to say that the following review has some spoilers so be forewarned.

You know you’re knee-deep in 80’s cool when the opening scene is a hotel room seduction at twilight with a soft saxophone jazz score in the background. Thankfully this scene doesn’t last long and ends in our hero blowing away the part cyborg babe followed by a gunfight/foot chase through industrial ruins with our hero Alex Rain (yup, Gruner plays a character named Alex Rain) coming under barrages of gunfire – the deadliest of which come from a duo of buxom women who, after the less deadly dudes are all killed, stand on a mound emptying hundreds of rounds into a crumbling building Gruner has escaped to (but not before he saves a stray dog by putting it out of harms way-he IS our hero, after all). I couldn’t help but have flashbacks to those 90’s videos of scantily clad women shooting various caliber weapons as their assets jiggle all over the place! Boobs and bullets!

When the lone surviving woman (Rosaria) comes over to finish off Alex. we learn that he’s a part cyborg LAPD cop who’s job seems to primarily be to get ‘information terrorists’ but he’s become disillusioned with what he’s doing.  Of course instead of just blowing him away she monologues :

“You’re confused. We’re trying to save humankind, and you, you protect the machines… Well no wonder you protect them, you’re mostly machine, you’re not really human anymore are you?”

“86.5% is still human” he says.Zing!

As the coup de gras is about to be served by Rosaria’s hand cannon, Alex is saved by a gunship before he passes out. Alex, of course, is resurrected via ROBOCOP P.O.V. doctors/scientists working away at resurrecting him. When next we see Alex it’s in the prerequisite workout-in-the-desert montage with the doggie (now no longer a pup).  It seems he’s been sent to a nearly abandoned, dusty new Mexico kind of town to cooperate.

As a quick aside, NEMESIS is also the kind of film that is so sparsely populated that it starts to attain a dream quality (I know it’s probably a budgetary restraint but the feeling’s the same).

Funny coincidence: Rosaria is now working at the least busy bar in the world, allowing him to go in, grab a beer and his revenge. As he stares down at her dead body he wonders “ì wanted to tell her she got me thinking…but she was dead.”

Hey, you killed her pal…

Rosaria hasn’t even begun to cool before ex lover (and 100% cyborg) Jared (and another sunglasses wearin’ babe) fly in on behalf of Farnsworth, the division’s head, to tell him he’s wanted for another job. His last one, it turns out. Guess what?  He’s quitting, he tells them as he saunters away leaving his dog behind.  During some expository dialogue the new mystery company woman reaches down to pat the dog and she shoots him dead as he nips at her.

Does this result in ANY reaction from Alex?  Nope.  Maybe he is all cyborg…

Of course he’s not allowed to go his own way and after he’s incapacitated and taken to some kind of open air prison he’s forced (due to an ‘Escape From New York’ style bomb being placed in his body) to do that one last job. All of this is the prologue to the main part of the movie which sees our hero travel to a place called Shang Joo in Java to prevent information to be passed to a rebel group at some meeting between the U.S. president and Japan’s president by those ‘Information Terrorists’ mentioned before.  Do it and the bomb will be deactivated.  Don’t do it, or fail and.. kablooey!
I’m not going to go into too much of the plot of the rest of the movie but let me say a whole roster of new characters, from a native gang, to a mysterious pixie-like woman, to new gun totin’ babes to new company cyborg tough guys show up to make Alex’s life as confusing and bullet riddled as possible.

I mentioned a ‘borrowed’ plot element from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK but there’s an action scene that isn’t just borrowed from that classic film. it’s given steroids and turned up to eleven.  Remember when Snake was trapped in that tenement building and how he escaped? Take that and turn it up to eleven! There’s even a cool eye gouging scene!

I know I’ve goofed on NEMESIS a bit, which may have given you the impression that I didn’t like it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It may at times take itself too seriously and take elements from other films and the main actor may not be brimming with acting chops but it’s great to look at, with on location shooting in some terrific places.  The action is pretty non stop.  The fact that many of the toughest characters are women is a great change and any movie with even a minute or two of cool stop motion has my seal of approval.

The packaging is top notch with the aforementioned video store design of the slipcase.  The transfer is really clean and in two aspect ratios: 2.35:1 and 1.78:1.  It also includes interviews, trailers, behind the scenes short, a making of short, a featurette, an intro by Pyun, an intro by Gruner, extended Japanese cut and a director’s cut.

All in all a definite keeper of a release. Kudos MVD!