Cyclone (1987) — Girl takes high-tech motorcyle on a revenge spree

“I saw that guy in med school. Except that he was in a jar.”

Justin’s rating: Revving up for action

Justin’s review: High tech and hardware was the winning combination of many ’80s movie and television efforts. Take something mundane — a car or helicopter — and slap  a computer, some lasers, and maybe a personality into it, and you just made it exciting all over again. So why not a movie where someone jazzes up a motorcycle to become a lethal machine and then puts a tough biker chick at the helm?

This is Cyclone, one of many, many efforts by B-movie director Fred Olen Ray. The Fall Guy’s Heather Thomas is Teri, a street tough motorcycle enthusiast who just so happens to have a geeky boyfriend named Rick who likes to modify said bikes. And did I mention that Rick is played by Re-Animator and Star Trek’s Jeffrey Combs? I mean, how can you not be down to watch anything this guy’s been in? But it is totally cute to see a bit of role reversal with the guy being a weaker dweeb and the girl being the one who can kick sixteen kinds of butt.

So Jeffrey, why not, creates the ultimate motorcycle with all sorts of gadgets, radar-deflecting paint, bullet-proof metal, super-fast speeds, and rocket launchers. On top of that, the thing only needs oxygen to run, so it instantly becomes the must-have Christmas gift of ’87. With both criminals (headed by Martin Landau), and the government gunning for this invention, Rick’s life is forfeit — and Teri realizes that Cyclone is the perfect instrument for some high-speed revenge. Oh, and also Rick left her a motorcycle helmet that shoots lasers because WHY NOT. I’m in love with this concept.

And I absolutely love that feeling when you go into a B-movie without much in the way of expectations — and then have the movie exceed that. That’s Cyclone. It’s genuinely well-made, sports a terrific synth soundtrack, has a great scifi angle with the bike, and is perfectly handled by Heather Thomas. She’s believable as a heartbroken girlfriend who just so happens to be a great bike rider who isn’t afraid to get into a scrap or two.

There’s plenty of random weirdness that makes for a good cult watch, too, such as punks who drive a station wagon and use crossbows. There’s also a plot twist I didn’t quite see coming, probably because I didn’t think this was the kind of movie that would even have a twist.

Unfortunately, the very low budget means that the bike and gadgets don’t get used all that much, which feels like a huge waste of premise. At least Thomas makes all of the filler scenes more watchable than not, reminding me a lot of Heather Locklear in her comedic era. It’s too bad that Cyclone didn’t spark a franchise, because I’d totally be up for a ’90s sequel or two with more computer special effects and maybe even a morphing ability. Alas.

Didja notice?

  • Oh man, lovin’ that rocking main theme that reminds me of Top Gun’s anthem
  • This gym workout scene is by no means gratuitous
  • Pickup trucks full of harassing guys like to cruise gym parking lots
  • Nerdy guys go wild for girls who can memorize long sentences about science
  • Rick playing with his computer helmet is hilarious
  • The punk club is… well, it’s punk
  • Maybe you shouldn’t be mopping up blood while the police are taking photos?
  • Every house needs a secret room behind the fireplace
  • Nerds usually leave a goodbye video on the computer
  • How LONG is his goodbye video?
  • And now time for an overly long riding sequence with a music video anthem
  • Jenkins is so badly dubbed
  • Punks with crossbows coming out of nowhere!
  • How to make a convertible out of a station wagon
  • Yeah just wheel a full motorcycle into someone’s kitchen
  • The way this bad guy goes, “It’ll be a real mess! A bleeder! A real mess! I’ll splatter her all over this room!”
  • Plot twist!
  • The bad guy yelling ever-increasing amounts of money into Teri’s face is… weird
  • Yet another torture-by-electricity scene
  • Chase scenes always take place on days where there is absolutely no traffic
  • “I’ll kill you!” [gets laser blasted]

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