Jean-Claude Van Damme accidentally wounded Jackson 'Rock' Pinckney's eye during a scene where they fought with swords, causing him to permanently lose vision out of that eye. He took Van Damme to court, eventually winning a settlement.
This film was conceived to use the costumes and sets built both for an intended sequel of Masters of the Universe (1987) and a live action 'Spider-Man' film. Both projects were planned to shoot simultaneously by Albert Pyun. After Cannon Films, the production company, had to cancel deals with both Mattel and Marvel because of their financial troubles, they needed to recoup the money spent on both projects. So Pyun wrote the story "Cyborg" from two other previous scripts he had called "Johnny Guitar" and "Alex Rain". Some network television channels still give the film's title as 'Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg' which often confuses many into thinking a sequel to that film was made.
"Cyborg" was originally written as "Masters of the Universe 2: The Cyborg", which was the sequel to Masters of the Universe (1987), in which He-Man returned to Earth, only to discover Earth has been left as a post-apocalyptic wasteland, when it is destroyed by Skeletor. When Cannon films and Mattel canceled production on the film. Albert Pyun, whom was hired to direct, wrote the script (under the pseudonym of Kitty Chalmers, the name of his cat) from two other previous scripts he had called "Johnny Guitar" and "Alex Rain" and it became the script for "Cyborg".
The film was heavily cut to earn an "R" rating rather than an "X". Among the scenes that didn't make it to the film: the opening slit throat, a good deal of blood in the village massacre. Also, in the first warehouse fight, Jean-Claude Van Damme is first fighting one guy and then suddenly he's not fighting anyone anymore (soon before the girl throws a villain down the big pit), the guy he was fighting vanishes, his death scene was likely cut.
The budget (including Jean-Claude Van Damme salary) was 500,000 dollars, but two million dollars had already been spent on production design, costumes and miscellaneous prep work on the aborted projects "Masters of the Universe 2" and "Spider-Man" (which cancellations were at the origin of "Cyborg").
A test screening was made which ended in disaster where from a hundred people surveyed only one person liked the film. Producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus tried to convince Jean-Claude Van Damme to allow them to release the movie as it was. Instead, Van Damme convinced both producers to let him edit the film as he had done previously with Bloodsport (1988) and asked them for 2 months, after which Cyborg was finally released.
Gibson is a "slinger" (A warrior for hire). In the 1920's, a gunslinger was a gunman or gunfighter who carries and readily uses a gun. (The term is commonly, but erroneously, associated with the Old West. A "gunslinger" from the Old West would actually be called a "shootist" or "shotist.")
The gun used by Gibson Rickenbacker (Jean-Claude Van Damme) are paintball guns, Tipman SMG-60's. This is important in the abandoned factory scene. Rickenbacker runs behind a dumpster and unscrews a 9 oz. CO2 bottle then, inserts another one to simulate "reloading" the weapon.
Albert Pyun is currently developing a prequel to this film, which was originally titled "Cyborg: Rise of the Slingers", before the title was changed to "Cyborg Nemesis". The film which takes place before "Cyborg", details the formation of the Slingers, after the plague brought about the fall of civilization and the Pirates begin terrorizing the survivors and the Slingers are organized to deal with them.
Jean-Claude Van Damme re-edited the film, much as he did with Bloodsport (1988), to make the fight scenes more exciting and trim down the drama. Van Damme spent two months editing the film. He would do the same on Hard Target (1993)
In 2011, Albert Pyun's Curnan Pictures got hold of the missing tapes of the original cut of the film through Pyun's original choice for score artist, Tony Riparetti. This director's cut of the film features Pyun's editing and previously unreleased scenes. It is commercially available through the director himself. Pyun's director's cut was released in 2014 in Germany with the film's original title "Slinger".
The ending was extended in Albert Pyun's director's cut "Slinger", which cuts to 9 months later, which an unknown naked woman (a cyborg) appears from a small electrical storm (ripping off The Terminator (1984)) and cuts to the caption "Next: Cyborg Nemesis: The Dark Rift" which sets the stage for a planned sequel.
Method Man sampled most of Fender's opening words as the opening lyrics in the song "Judgement Day" from his 1998 album Tical 2000: Judgement Day. The lyrics are slightly modified. The intro is also in the opening of the song "World Damnation" by the death metal band Mortician. The intro of Fender talking about death and starvation is thought as the official opening of metal band Chimairas' song "Resurrection." It is often played at live shows as an intro. The same intro is also played the beginning of a song by Australian, Christian, gore-grindcore band Vomitorial Corpulence.
In Albert Pyun's director cut, the film's ending is extended. When Gibson and Haley return Pearl to her scientist college. It cuts to a caption "9 Months Later" and a electrical storm is seen and a sphere flashes and an unknown naked woman (a cyborg) appears and ends with the caption: "Next: Cyborg Nemesis: The Dark Rift". That scene which rips-off The Terminator (1984) was written and filmed to set the stage for a planned sequel entitled "Cyborg Nemesis".
In the original theatrical version, it was not explained what Slingers were. In the film, Slingers are hired warriors whose jobs are to safely escort people out of cities and to protect them from Pirates. The director's cut explained this in the opening crawl.
The film's plot is almost similar to plot of Last Battle (1989) (VG): The video game takes place in ravage world and is the story of Aarzak, a martial artist whom sets out to rescue his girlfriend whom has been kidnapped by evil fighter Duke and his lackeys.
Albert Pyun had written Gibson Rickenbacker for Chuck Norris. But, Albert Pyun was suggested that Jean-Claude Van Damme play the part and Albert Pyun was impressed when Jean-Claude Van Damme demonstrated a spinning split kick and Albert Pyun gave the part to him.
Vincent Klyn said that because of the low budget for this movie there were only two pairs of contact lenses made for his character. He then continued on by saying that sometime earlier during filming he had lost one pair already, and then during the final fight scene thought he had lost the other. Filming had to be immediately halted while the crew tried to find where they might have dropped, which allowed Klyn to return to his dressing trailer. It was there he discovered that because the scene being filmed had so much water, dirt and smoke flying around that he must have blinked and rubbed his eyes which caused the lens to actually shift up and into his head. By blinking and rubbing his eye again in his trailer, the lens came back down and shooting was able to resume.
Terrie Batson had no idea that her voice was going to be dubbed over for the final release of this film, and only found out when she and friends and family had gone to see it in theaters for the first time after its completion.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The film's ending was extended in Albert Pyun's director's cut of the film which was to set the stage for a planned sequel Cyborg: The Dark Rift. In the extended ending, we cut to 9 months later and a electrical storm is seen and a sphere flashes and an unknown naked woman (A cyborg) appears and it ends with the caption. "Next: Cyborg Nemesis: The Dark Rift". The extended ending ripped off and was a nod to The Terminator (1984) and it's sequels and the spin-off TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (2008). However, production of the movie had been canceled due to Pyun being diagnosed with dementia.
The film originally titled "Slinger" was envisioned by Albert Pyun to be a futuristic western. Gibson is like the lone cowboy/gun-for-hire, whilst Fender and the Pirates are the outlaw gang. Gibson has a tragic backstory and seeks revenge upon Fender and the Pirates whom killed his family and like all westerns, Gibson declines the offer to stay with Pearl and the scientists and decides to move on and returns to the badlands of the post-apocalyptic United States as he is needed elsewhere.