Omega Doom (1996)

After a devastating global war between humans and cyborgs only a few surviving cyborgs are left on the planet. One of them is Omega Doom. In the last days of the war, he got shot in the head, and his programming got damaged. He now he does not have the urge to fight humans anymore. As he is wandering through a destroyed city, he encounters some other cyborgs that are quarreling with each other. Rumors are circulating that there are surviving humans nearby seeking to take revenge on the cyborgs, and that a secret stash of weapons exists nearby for the cyborgs to defend themselves. A dangerous game of intrigues and betrayal ensues, and Omega Doom is pulling the strings.

Omega Doom was the last cyborg-themed movie in director Albert Pyun’s career until now. Apparently he is currently working on a sequel for Cyborg, which hopefully he will be able to finish and release soon. Omega Doom came out in 1996, in the same year as Nemesis 4. Both were shot in Bratislava, Slovakia, so we can speculate that they were made back to back for cost reasons. Nemesis 4 looked like it was made with almost zero money. Omega Doom is a somewhat better produced affair, even though it still looks fairly cheap. But as with the majority of his works Pyun makes the best out of the budget constraints, and delves into the morbid charm of decaying Eastern Europe city landscapes. And with Rutger Hauer, Pyun had a distinguished actor available as centerpiece of the movie and to attract viewer’s attention. As a premise, we get Pyun’s frequent approach of breezily mixing genres and settings together. For Omega Doom, he utilized the Yojimbo/A Fistful of Dollars theme, and cyborgs as main protagonists in a post-apocalyptic world.

Filmed in a littered Bratislava backyard, the run-down buildings and hallways of the post-Eastern bloc provide a fitting simulation of a post-war setting. As with many Pyun movies, the costume selection and style are also noteworthy. The sunglasses and trench-coats worn by people with frozen facial expressions are back from Nemesis, still a few years before The Wachowski Brother made this style famous in their Matrix trilogy. Rutger Hauer and other characters wear clothes that look like the winter gear of the early 20th Century Soviet army, which adds a nice and slightly weird touch. And Omega Doom’s woolly hat is something that cannot be unseen by anyone that has watched the movie.

The sets are arranged fairly effectively and don’t look cheap. The constraint here, though, is that the whole movie basically takes place in two locations. The brief blue-screen scenes in the beginning and end of the movie are a clever idea to add a bit of an epic scope to a movie that takes place in confined spaces for the most part. These scenes also illustrate what Pyun could have done with the rest of this movie (and others) if he just would have had access to more funding for his works. Arguably the most problematic item in Omega Doom is the action sequences. There are only a few, but they are so choppy and disorienting, that it’s clear they had absolutely no money for this. And we know from his previous works that Pyun is absolutely capable of staging good shootouts and explosions.

And as there’s almost no action, there’s plenty of talking instead. The dialogues are filled with reflections of the cyborgs about their fear of being eradicated by humans or the rivaling cyborg faction. As they are also able to express empathy and anger, they are basically humans, with the exception of their choppy movement accompanied by mechanical sounds. The idea that the cyborgs are scared of humans is actually an interesting concept, as typically it’s the other way round. So we get lots of pseudo-philosophical trans-humanist talk à la Blade Runner, but of a slightly less pretentious magnitude.

Omega Doom is a decent and somewhat wacky piece of B-movie entertainment, that visibly suffers from its low budget. It is another example of Pyun probably making the best of what he could do with what limited resources he had available.

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