The Demolitionist (1995) — She wore masks before they were cool

“What’s the matter Boxer? Never seen a ballerina with balls before?”

Justin’s rating: It’s that girl from Charles in Charge versus that guy from 21 Jump Street!

Justin’s review: We don’t even have to finish the opening credits of The Demolitionist to know that this movie wants — so bad — to be Robocop and The Terminator. Others have tried and failed, but this one? This one has a secret weapon: Richard Grieco’s earring. It’s shiny, it’s rebellious, and it tells you that this dude is bad to the X-treme.

Richard Grieco’s earring belongs to the criminal mastermind of Metro City, Mad Dog. As we well know, every U.S. city only has one major bad guy and a colorful gang that’s about a decade out of date. And the guy is never that cunning; he’s more prone to fits of Kylo Ren-style destroy-everything-with-a-lightsaber rage.

It shouldn’t take too much to bring him down, perhaps Johnny Depp and a select police squad — or an undercover cop named Alyssa (Nicole Eggert). Oh wait, Alyssa gets caught and killed, so she’s out.

Or is she? Not in the least! You see, she’s only “mostly” dead.

Thanks to Movie Scienceā„¢, Alyssa is brought back as a cyborg zombie to bring put Mad Dog down once and for all. Give the lady a leather ensemble, a small arsenal of high-tech guns, healing nanobots, a custom motorcycle, and an admittedly nifty metal mouthguard. She’s occasionally pouty about her new lifestyle, but for the most part, Alyssa is a no-nonsense hero who at least knows where to point the guns (at the bad guys) and how to spit out a defiant line or two. There’s a nominal effort at having her grapple with the fact that she’s dead and would rot if she didn’t get her daily injections, but not enough that it’ll get in the way of the action setpieces.

The Demolitionist was directed by a guy who primarily worked in the makeup and special effects, so you might excuse the weirdly shoddy sets (the hospital scene, in particular, looks like they only had enough money to rent a nondescript corridor). But shouldn’t the actual effects be better? You would think, but no. They’re adequate but begging for an extension of the film’s $1 million budget.

Still, there’s a campy scifi charm in this Robocop knockoff. It loves its Dutch angles, has so many of those soft-light shots that the ’90s was fond of doing, and is loaded up with “hey it’s THAT guy!” cameos such as Bruce Campbell, Jack Nance, Heather Langenkamp, and Tom Savini. I could’ve done without the mayor, who overacts so hard that she might as well just milk the giant cow and get it over with.

You’ll need some patience to wait through a whole lot of Zombiecop’s training and existential crisis breakdowns until she gets out there and does her job. She doesn’t suit up until 50 minutes into this hour-and-a-half film, but from then on, it’s a tad more interesting. I guess they’re trying to position her as a superhero of sorts (you see, she DEMOLISHES the bad guys), but it’s all rushed in montage form so that it never feels earned.

What this movie needed — what would’ve pushed it over the top into genuine cult classic status — is a sense of fun. You know, a couple great personalities, or a spat of great quotes, or a few truly memorable scenes. The Demolitionist has a cool costume but precious little of those other factors. Pity.

Didja notice?

  • If you’re on death row, you should watch a giant fish monster movie
  • The electric chair offers side-by-side seating for brothers
  • The real threat to any city is one criminal mastermind and his 10 bikers who follow him
  • This mayor sure loves to overract
  • So many water glasses were shot in the making of this movie
  • There’s no way that’s a hospital room
  • People on operating tables are cool with someone grabbing their head and barking, “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE”
  • What decade is that flashbulb camera from, 1930?
  • She’s got super-healing!
  • The dog-and-cop negotiation scene
  • And now, the “mild workout” montage!
  • She needs the nanites every day or she’ll rot. Groovy.
  • That chair looks painful to sit in
  • Did she just pull the plug on her boyfriend?
  • I don’t think her guns ever run out of bullets
  • Why show actual rescues and successes when newspaper headlines can do it for you?
  • The fight in shadows is neat
  • She shoots up a bridal store window?

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