[box cover]

Omega Doom

Legend has it that director Alber Pyun apprenticed under Akira Kurosawa before striking off on his own to befoul cinema with shoddily shot schlock like The Sword and the Sorcerer (starring the fabulous Lee Horsley, television's "Matt Houston"), Cyborg and the Nemesis quadrilogy, which is a roundabout way of saying the guy has never exhibited the visual mastery or storytelling brilliance of his alleged mentor. The Kurosawa connection, however, does shed some interesting light on the execrable Omega Doom (1997), which stars Rutger Hauer as a cyborg freed of his prime directive (i.e., killin') wandering the post-apocalyptic wasteland looking for opportunity. He soon stumbles upon a bombed-out hamlet and sets about playing its two rival robo-factions — the "Roms" and the "Droids" — against each other for his own gain. Yes, Albert Pyun is paying homage to his teacher's samurai classic, Yojimbo; thus, joining the ranks of Sergio Leone (A Fistful of Dollars) and Walter Hill (Last Man Standing) where he painfully does not belong. Pyun does distinguish himself in predictably incompetent ways, prefacing his inelegantly written prologue by quoting John Donne ("Death shall have no dominion"), a cruel disparity, and padding out the running-time with a full half-hour of lame bantering with the severed head of an android before letting Omega Doom get on with his mercenary business. And once the "action" does kick in, it's as ineptly staged as one has come to expect from the prolific Pyun. It's difficult to give the filmmaker any credit when dealing with something not only this slipshod but also completely devoid of the lurid sex and violence that often make such efforts mildly diverting when running across them on Cinemax after stumbling home from the bar at three in the morning — but let it be said that Pyun has a surprise or two up his sleeve, mixing in a bit of James Cameron with his Kurosawa (bluntly foreshadowed with a shot of a robotic foot smashing a skull in the opening credits). Yes, Omega Doom eventually reveals itself to be a parable. That doesn't make it any better; it just means it's a parable. Now that Hauer is making a comeback with roles in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Sin City, and Batman Begins, it's decidedly less painful to revisit these Z-grade paycheck roles that misspent the actor's intriguing presence. True, he's not good here, but he's not really trying either. Erotic thriller queen Shannon Whirry, on the other hand, gives it everything she's got as Zed, which, given the PG-13 rating, isn't nearly enough — or, frankly, what's expected. Columbia TriStar presents Omega Doom in an acceptable anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) with serviceable Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Extras include a Rutger Hauer biography and a trailer for this film and two other Hauer efforts. Keep-case.
—Clarence Beaks



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