The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Monday, November 29, 2010

Nemesis 2: Nebula (1995)

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I had been meaning to review this, and the other two Nemesis sequels, for sometime now, but one Albert Pyun movie or another always trumped it. The other thing it doesn't have in its favor is other Hall of Famers, which will immediately cause it to drop in priority. Then there was its lack of availability, but that was solved when I came across it recently.

Nemesis 2 starts in the year 2077, where the cyborgs have taken over and are enslaving the remaining humans. Some have rebelled, and a scientist has created a genetically superior human that can combat the cyborgs. As an infant, the cyborgs hunt her down, so her mom takes her into the past, the year 1980 to be precise, in war torn east Africa, where she's raised by local tribesmen after her mother dies. Back in the future, the cyborgs send Nebula, a Predator like tracker, to capture this superior human, and he meets up with the girl after she's grown into a buff young woman, and the two go toe to toe.

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So, this is something of a bait-and-switch, because the opening of the film has these great models and paintings of a future LA ruled by cyborgs, and it all looked awesome, and something I could really sink my teeth into. Then we're sent back to 1980 east Africa, in the desert, and all that futuristic coolness is gone. I get that it was probably more cost-effective to shoot in the Arizona desert than in elaborate futuristic sets, but it was still a disappointment when we were transported away from all that. As far as the rest of the film goes, it's mix of Star Wars, Predator, and Pyun's own Cyborg. It's very low-budget, so if you don't have a stomach for things written off as "cheesy", you'll be in trouble here. For me, it was a fun ride, but territory that was well-worn-- not at all like the inspired Sci-Fi Western Nemesis was.

We aren't even halfway through Albert Pyun's filmography-- though I have a feeling there are some of those ones from the past he'd rather we don't do. Maybe Nemesis 2 was one of those ones, I don't know. I think some of the last reviews I've done of his films, I've been of the opinion that I got what he was trying to do, but it didn't exactly work for me, because of A,B, and C. That's not the case here. I think the main issue with this one was probably the budget, because the idea wasn't a bad one. Maybe Nebula was too derivative of the Predator, or the setting was too much like Tatooine and the rebels too much like Sandpeople, but overall, I liked it as an out-of-the box sequel to Nemesis. The budgetary issues relegate it to that MST3K area, but if you dig bad action, there were plenty of explosions and gunfights.

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What this lacked that made Nemesis such a classic though, was that cool mix of genres. While this had elements that felt more derivative than re-imaginings, it's predecessor was really about bending conventions and blending things we hadn't really seen until that point. It felt like a futuristic Western, and with the enormous cast he had, he was able to sell that atmosphere even more. I guess this movie was trying to do the same, by looking at a civil war in east Africa as a brutal, modern Wild West, but with the low budget and relatively unknown cast, it felt more inhibited and less inspired.

The heroine was played by female bodybuilder Sue Price. She was excellent, and more than a bodybuilder, she was really athletic too. According to her imdb bio, the only three films she did were these three Nemesis sequels. I guess I can see that, because it really takes an outside-the-box film maker like Pyun to defy conventions and cast someone like her. It's like a given that a female tough chick would still have to be thin and feminine and less believable in her asskicking than in a skintight outfit. Here, though, we have one that's well-built and naturally athletic. The whole thing worked for me, but I think for most people, it would be a hard image to consume-- women are supposed to look one way, and men are supposed to look another.

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I mentioned above that I loved the models they used for the futuristic LA. Probably today those would've been done with computers, and I have to imagine with the kinds of shooting restrictions Pyun is frequently faced with, rendering those cities in CGIs would probably be preferable, and had he had that option in 1995, he would have gone for it. I understand that, but I think we lose something in these computer generated graphics. I like a city like the one in Metropolis, I like it when directors use something other than a computer to make things in their films life-like. I get that the computer can get things done faster and easier, and in some cases cheaper; and I get that sometimes more can be done with computers; but there's something more imaginative, yet more real, about making us believe a city is real without letting a computer do all the work.

In the final analysis, you have to ask yourself: do I like low-budget actioners? Do I like crazy plots that go from 2077 Cyborg LA to 1980 east Africa? Do I like explosions and gunfights, all in a self-contained desert location? What do I think of a derivative Predator villain? For me, I look at these questions and I'm like "fire it up, deepcheeks", but that's just me. Also, this is hard to get at, so I wouldn't go too far out of your way, but if you see it in a used VHS or DVD bin, why not go for it.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0113948/

10 comments:

  1. Although I haven't watched them yet, I have the DVD of Nemesis and recently picked up the VHS of Nemesis 3. Number two eludes me though, I'm sure it will turn up one day. I think I'll have to bump Nemesis 1 up my watching queue; sounds like I'm missing out on a classic there.

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  2. The first Nemesis is definitely one you should have on your blog, and then I would probably wait until you get this one before moving on to part 3. At the end of this one he actually says directly to expect part 3, so he made this with that one in mind.

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  3. Cool, good to see you finally got around to this one (and 3 & 4 eventually, fingers crossed). I was just going to review this on my blog next for my Cyberpunk Babylon entry.
    Yes, Nemesis 3 has, literally 30 minutes of flashbacks from this one. It's told in this weird, Pulp Fiction-esque narrative that confuses a bit @first. Much of the footage @ the beginning of this movie is actually used in part 3 too. I dunno, I love all of these movies- the later sequels (3 & 4) are pretty crap, I know, but there's something about them I really like- I guess it's Sue Price. But it's also a potentially great story I would've loved to see done right with a better budget and had they given the director the time necessary to bring that to fruition. I can only imagine this was a 'Captain America' fiasco where they didn't know if the money was going to be there from day to day.
    Hopefully Mr. Pyun will make an appearance and fill in some of the details as to the background of this particular picture, because I've always been very curious about these three sequels- and also why the 4th is so different from 2 & 3.

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  4. I gotta say I wasn't too keen on this one. In fact the best sequel is probably Nemesis 4 (probably the easiest of the series to find) because it's never boring but feels unfinished, maybe Al can elaborate on such. That one has the burned out wasteland film. I think it's Pyun's overall last post apocalypse flick. That one isn't very good but it isn't dull.

    I remember Nemesis 2 and 3 being really boring but most disappointing of all is the way the action was so lame in comparison to the first. Like in the first Nemesis it opens with a thrilling shootout, then there is a very exciting shoot through the roofs action sequences and the chase through the jungle was pretty good, indeed it was only the finale that let down the overall scope. However Nemesis 2 by comparison just doesn't have that ambition in action, possibly due to budget constraints. Plus as you said the year 1980 is a far duller setting then say 2077.

    Nemesis 3 is even worse, even though Tim Thomerson returns. I think the problem with the Nemesis sequels as opposed to say the first, as well as Cyborg and even Radioactive Dreams is the lack of futuristic feel. Nemesis 4 has some of that, but overall I say stick with the first.

    Another flaw that disappointed me was the lack of real time travel, no exploration at all as well as no real elements, I thought at first the film was gonna jump around from the future and past and then continue the fight through out time (which is what the trailer hinted at) but it pretty much was once she got there, she stayed. Plus aside from the Terminator inspired plot (go back in time to kill her) One isn't really given much of an idea on how this time machine is able, how they were able to make a DNA strain that makes a superhuman fight the cyborgs, and why they send it back to 1980 instead of say around the time Olivier Gruner and co were there fighting the machines, as i'm guess that would be the time the humans would need such. Indeed I know that it took 20 years for her to get that way, by why not send her to 2007 that way by 2027 (which is where I believe the first takes place) she can dismantle them with Gruner, or if you're going to use time travel, why not go back and kill the creator of the cyborgs.

    Nemesis 3 on the other hand was even worse. In that it takes place in the same place as Nemesis 2 and now her sister comes to take her into the future, which doesn't make sense with the second movie. Plus they have robots (Tim Thomerson) who can project illusions in 1980 and it just stinks. Like it's really bad.

    Anyway, the first was good, the rest aren't.

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  5. Dude, how did I not know you had your own blog? That's crazy man, you've been holding out on me. I'm going to check it out as soon as I can.

    I will be getting to the other sequels, hopefully sooner than later, but as I mentioned in the post, the biggest detriment to them is the lack of other Hall of Famers, which makes a lot of his other films jump up the priority list.

    I think your complaint about Nemesis 2, Kenner, about her being placed in Gruner's time, probably had a lot more complications than it was worth. I mean, what was Gruner doing at the time? Could they get back to some of those Asian shooting locations? It probably just worked out better to do it in Arizona, hence what we had. I agree, though, that that first Nemesis felt more inspired.

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  6. I was reading in an interview with Pyun that he originally envisioned Gruner's character as a female, but the producers went with a more "marketable" choice in a european kickboxer guy with abs. He was attempted to "recapture" the original idea here, but he didn't think it came through. Again, I'd love to hear more insight into these films- all I ever hear about is the first, but these three and Knights (and, okay, Dangerously Close and Radioactive Dreams) are the ones I'm most interested in.

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  7. Funny enough, Pyun commented on the Radioactive Dreams post, but he actually went into detail about what went wrong with Urban Menace instead, which was actually a really good thing, because it gave us all a deeper understanding about that movie. Knights is one I've been considering for a while, just because it has Gary Daniels as well. When this past week gave us two Daniels flicks, and we were coming up on a Pyun post slot, I figured this would be a great opportunity to do Nemesis 2. I always get into to trouble when I try to look too far into the future to guess on upcoming posts, but Nemesis 3 and Knights are at the top of the list for the next Pyun review.

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  8. Hey,

    Three of my friends are running a blog entirely devoted to Pyun. Go here:

    http://pyuniverse.blogspot.com/?zx=2f2d23ab322cf87b

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  9. Thanks for the link Jack. I'm actually already a follower of their blog, so I'm one step ahead of you.

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  10. My problem with Nemesis 2 is Sue Price. Not her body or her athleticism, but she's so stone-faced, she can't act. Also, they keep shooting her in such a way to conceal that she's 5'2" or less.

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