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Custom cyborg carnage

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Rated R
Copyright 1996 Concord Pictures
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 3 September 2008

Capsule Review:    

At some point in the future, Los Angeles finally becomes a caricature of itself. The rich elite live on a private island, protected from the commoners by a private police force. When the daughter of a wealthy family goes missing, they hire a mainland private detective (Timothy Bottoms) to find the missing girl.

It just so happens that a group of elite are running their own version of Rome's Colosseum. People are captured in the slums and dumped into a maze where they are hunted by a cyborg. Just avoiding the augmented gladiator is not enough, because a number of remote control trapdoors are hidden throughout the tunnels. Falling down one of the vertical shafts deposits the contestant into a room where they are forced to fight a deathmatch against a muscled fighter who obviously has too much caffeine in his diet. The detective, the girl he is looking for, and a few others find themselves involuntary contestants in this game of death.

All of this is done for the benefit of a few wealthy schmucks who are bored with "normal" entertainment. Most of them are supposed to be spoiled twenty-somethings, including the star of Flesh Gordon 2 (and he plays a useless human flesh wart with such self-assurance that I couldn't wait for the protagonists to escape from the arena and kill him). Before the cyborg or Mr. "I tried to perm my hair after drinking four liters of Mountain Dew" dispatch a defeated player, the rich spectators vote with their thumbs. A thumbs up majority means the player is set free to get killed later; thumbs down is immediate cause for impalement (the cyborg has a retractable blade) or neck snapping.

Now, I am worried that I might have made "Mortal Challenge" sound like a film you might want to see. It is a lot like "The Running Man," though it lacks the daily recommended allowance of Arnold Schwarzenegger (Maria Shriver is known to regularly exceed this), and I could care less if any of the contestants survived. One contestant, Hawk, kept doing outright wicked things because he "wanted to live." He also kept reciting worthless wisdom that his old man had spouted from the bottom of an alcoholic pit. It was no small blessing when the script eliminated him from the game.

Things I Learned From This Show:  

Green Dot Gene Simmons is a woman, and he/she slept with a member of GWAR.
Green Dot There are times when being both aquaphobic and acrophobic could be a serious liability.
Green Dot Christmas light strands are made from spider web.
Green Dot Never pipe anybody named Grepp, they hate that.

Stuff To Watch For:  

Green Dot 13 mins - Time to lift a little idea from "Demolition Man."
Green Dot 22 mins - Girl, all that makeup makes you look like something from the Planet of the Apes.
Green Dot 44 mins - It pains me to point this out, but chopping at the cyborg's armored parts is not getting you anywhere. Try hitting him in the face, neck, or anywhere that he is still flesh and blood.
Green Dot 56 mins - Ahhhh! It's the cleaners!


Kado: "I need some help, man!"
Rogius: "There's no help in death drome. It's kill or be killed."
Kado: "Why do you want to fight me?"
Rogius: "I kill you, I survive another day! Hrraaahh!"

Malius: "Grepp, Sheena is to be killed at once."
Alex: "It's thumbs up. She lives. She outsmarted Grepp."
Malius: "I decide who lives in the arena."
Alex: "The rules are clear: it's our thumbs up or down that decide."

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