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TECHNO SAPIENS (aka SHADOW WARRIORS) (1995)
Directed by: Lamar Card
Screenplay: Steven Finly
Starring: Terry O’Quinn, Timothy Patrick Cavanaugh, Ashley Graham, Evan Lurie & Russ Tertyask
Somewhere in between playing The Stepfather and staring as Locke on TV show Lost, the great Terry O’Quinn popped up in this bargain basement B-movie that what it lacks in any sort of coherency, craftsmanship or logic makes up for it in full throttle action. This cheap and cheery Universal Soldier knock off see’s the evil O’Quinn creating a new cybernetic super soldier in the form of Evan (T-Force) Lurie. Then, for reasons only valid in a low budget action film, Quinn programmes another super soldier (Russ Tertyask) to go on a killing rampage to source more bodies to turn into super soldiers. Though, really all he does is kill and maim his way through Kiev (!) with no rhyme or reason blowing up everything in his path. Lurie is then programmed to go after the renegade cyborg with a gun-toting cop and a pretty lady scientist in tow.
For 90s B-movie cyborg action movie mayhem, Techno Sapiens has it all: copious amounts of ammo dispensing gun battles; a surfeit of random helicopters, speed boats and various other machines the producers obviously got cheap, so they cram them in as many scenes as possible; various walls being demolished by super soldiers walking through them; inexplicable, random and extremely shoddy CGI effects including the super soldiers firing lazers from their hands and haphazard scenes of Lawnmower Man style effects sequences; cartoony POV effects for the cyborgs; and perhaps the worst and not to mention fakest climactic explosion to feature in an action film ever. B-movie excellence.
Incoherent, random, and often defying logic Techno Sapiens feels like a film that either ran out of money, or was probably directed by various people during its production, or was hacked to pieces from its original version or cobbled together from the usable footage in the editing room or, all of the above. And strictly because of this and the fact that it throws all narrative logic out the window (those who have a thing for banging on about plot, even when dissecting a B-action movie will have a field day with this!) Techno Sapiens is an absolute hoot. Cheap Universal Soldier knocks off don’t come much better, especially when they feature one of the kings of cheap Universal Soldier knock offs: Evan Lurie (T-force, Hologram Man, Cyborg 3). The one time low budget action movie mainstay actually gets to kick all kinds of butt in this film, proving very energetic in the action scenes and going fist-to-fist with man mountain Russ Teryask on numerous occasions.
There is a ton of action in Techno Sapiens, well after a bit of filler and O’Quinn spending way too much time punching keys at a computer and sounding evil, with the last forty or so minutes of the film pretty much just being one giant running gun battle. Thanks to some pretty awesome camerawork (and good use of a steadicam) the action, while a little scrappy, is impressively ballistic, explosive, punchy and features all those aforementioned vehicles engaged in high pursuit or exploding at one point or another. The whole of Kiev (I’m guessing they got a good tax break to film there?!) is riddled with bullets and while you will often wonder what the hell is going on and how everyone seems to have a never ending supply of ammo, you’ll certainly be entertained if you like your action thick, fast and over-the-top.
O’Quinn is unfortunately underused and disappears for a good part of the film though is suitably slimey (and was presumably just collecting a quick pay check) and some may find the absurdity of proceedings just too hilarious (in an un-intentional way) to take serious but Techno Sapiens is barmy action fun if you’re looking for a quick fix of cyborg smashing mayhem (at 2 in the morning).