Jean-Claude Van Damme accidentally wounded Jackson 'Rock' Pinckney's eye during a swordfight scene, permanently blinding him in that eye. He took Van Damme to court, and eventually won a settlement.
This film was conceived to use the costumes and sets built for a Masters of the Universe (1987) sequel and a live action 'Spider-Man' film. Albert Pyun planned to shoot both projects simultaneously. Cannon Films had to cancel deals with Mattel and Marvel because of their financial troubles, and they needed to recoup the money spent on both projects. Pyun created the film's script, under the pseudonym of Kitty Chalmers, using two previous scripts, "Johnny Guitar" and "Alex Rain". Some network television channels still give the film's title as 'Masters of the Universe 2: Cyborg,' leading people to think it's a sequel.
This was the last official theatrical release for Cannon Films after going bankrupt in 1987.
Albert Pyun originally envisioned the film as a heavy opera without dialogue, shot in granulated black and white. The producers rejected the idea.
The budget, including Jean-Claude Van Damme's salary, was $500,000. The studio had already spent $2 million on production design, costumes, and miscellaneous prep work on the aborted projects "Masters of the Universe 2" and "Spider-Man."
The chain mail and forearm guards worn by Fender were part of the costume for the character "Blade" in Masters of the Universe (1987).
The MPAA originally gave the film an "X" rating. Numerous cuts got it rated "R", including a good deal of blood in the village massacre and one character's death scene.
After the success of Bloodsport (1988), Cannon films offered Jean-Claude Van Damme the lead in Delta Force 2: The Colombian Connection (1990), American Ninja 3: Blood Hunt (1989), or this film. He chose the latter, and later admitted "I didn't like the film so much."
Gibson is a "slinger", a warrior for hire. In the 1920's, a gunslinger was a gunman or gunfighter who carried and readily used 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 test screening was a disaster; only one out of 100 people surveyed liked the film. 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 with Bloodsport (1988), and asked them for 2 months. Cyborg was finally released 2 months later.
Ralf Moeller had such a thick German accent that all of his dialogue had to be dubbed.
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)
Matthias Hues turned down a role in the film. Years later, he claims to regret the decision.
The character names Gibson Rickenbacker, Nady Simmons, Fender Tremolo, Marshall Strat, and Pearl Prophet are also names of musical instruments or manufacturers.
Gibson Rickenbacker's gun is a Tipman SMG-60 paintball gun. During the abandoned factory scene, Rickenbacker runs behind a dumpster, unscrews a 9 oz. CO2 bottle, then inserts another one to simulate "reloading" the weapon.
In 2011, Curnan Pictures got hold of the missing tapes of the original cut of the film through Tony Riparetti, Albert Pyun's original choice for score artist. This director's cut 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".
A score for the film composed by Anthony Riparetti and James Saad was rejected in favour of a completely new score by Kevin Bassinson. Although Riparetti and Saad are still given credit on some posters and other advertising material for the film. The score itself has since been restored into the director's cut of the movie.
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.
The script was written with the idea of Chuck Norris playing the lead. Producers Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus convinced Albert Pyun to cast Jean-Claude Van Damme instead after his success in Bloodsport (1988).
Vincent Klyn said that because of the low budget of the film that only two pairs of contact lenses were made for his character. He had lost the first pair in an unspecified early scene, and while filming the final fight scene he thought he had lost the other. Filming had to immediately stop while the crew tried to find them, which allowed Klyn to return to his dressing trailer. There he discovered that the lenses had actually shifted up above his eyes from all the smoke, dirt, and high winds of the final scene being filmed that was causing him to blink uncontrollably. By blinking again in his trailer he was able to move the lenses back down, and filming resumed.
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.
The film had a limited cast. Almost everyone aside from the leads plays multiple roles, usually henchmen.
When Fender steals the boat he takes to Charleston, he declares that he can't swim and hates water. Vincent Klyn is a professional surfer.
The original theatrical version does not explain what Slingers are. In the director's cut, the opening crawl defines Slingers as hired warriors who safely escort people out of cities and protect them from pirates.
The film was originally going to be the sequel to Masters of the Universe (1987) starring Dolph Lundgren. Jean-Claude Van Damme would later work with Dolph Lundgren on the Universal Soldier films and The Expendables 2 (2012).
The film's influences include: The Searchers (1956), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), The Ultimate Warrior (1975), Mad Max (1979), Conan the Barbarian (1982), The Terminator (1984), Fist of the North Star (1986), Strider (1989) and Last Battle (1989).
Albert Pyun's director's cut "Slinger" reveals that Nady Simmons was a friend of Willy Jack, and she was going to meet up with him in New York when Fender killed him.
Terrie Batson naturally speaks with a North Carolina accent and recorded all of her lines in the movie without altering it. She then had no idea that her voice was going to be dubbed over in the final cut of the movie, and only found out when she and friends and family saw it together in the theater for the first time.
When the film was first released on VHS in Germany, so many violent scenes were cut out that it ran only around 58 minutes, not even reaching feature length.
Albert Pyun stated that Henry Fonda's character in Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) influenced Fender Tremolo's otherworldly feel.
Albert Pyun wrote the character of Gibson Rickenbacker for Chuck Norris. Jean-Claude Van Damme got the part after he demonstrated a spinning split kick.
The film has a lot of parallels with Strider (1989). The video game, set in the future, is about Hiryu, a martial arts warrior and member of an elite fighting force called "Striders." He travels across the world on a mission to take down an evil dictator called The Grandmaster. Gibson is a martial artist warrior and "Slinger," or warrior-for-hire. In the film, Gibson travels across the post apocalyptic United States on a mission to rescue Pearl Prophet and destroy Fender, who killed his family.