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  • In the early 21st Century, society is connected through the Cyberlink. All communication and monetary transactions occur within its sphere. The Cyberlink records the identities of all legalized citizens. Simplants provide criminal with alternative identities. Ident police and private headhunters track them down.

    In Entropolis, the efficient bounty hunter Dash MacKenzie (Genevieve O'Reilly) is hired by the big corporation boss Joseph Lau (David Warner) and his henchman Davinder Sandhu (Michael De Mesa) to hunt down his former employee Edward Chan (Gerald Chew). Edward has vanished after submitting to the state-of-art procedure neuromorphing. While seeking Edward out, Dash stumbles with Ident Detective Victor Huang (Luoyong Wang) and he warns her that someone might want to kill Edward, but she does not pay attention to him. Dash finds Edward but he is assassinated before telling her why he is hunted down. However his mistress Sylvia escapes from the killer. Soon Dash finds a clip and her biotech guru Julius Kui (Kay Siu Lim) stumbles with the truth and finds why Edward was murdered. Dash brings Victor to meet Julius and he shows Megacorp transactions in Sintawan to them. He explains that these five companies make up the total infrastructure and have total control over Cyberlink. They form a powerful consortium and play a game based on the ancient Chinese game Wei Chi. Sintawan is the playing field where they wage corporate war in accordance with the strategies of the five companies, manipulating the course of the society and everyone living here. Therefore the place is an illusion and nothing is what it seems and there is no distinction between the game and reality. Then Dash finds that they are all avatars. What will they do?

    "Cyber Wars" is an interesting film with a complex story. The plot has flaws and gives too much new information to the viewer; therefore the best to do is to watch the film again on the next day to understand better the details. Dash is an unpleasant character and Genevieve O'Reilly and Luoyong Wang are histrionic in certain moments and do not show any chemistry, but this combination of Matrix and Blade Runner entertains. My vote is seven.

    Title (Brazil): Not available on Blu-Ray or DVD.
  • Despite all the bad comments, this movie is rather enjoyable. True, the acting is not always at its best...but other than that it is a solid classical cyberpunk movie that looks as a professional level job...not the amateurish home-made thing that someone described!

    It's not a world shaking work of art, but it accomplished the job of entertaining the viewer and is much better then some Hollywood-crap we see this days.

    I rate it a 6 for the movie "value" ... a 7 because it shows a good technical work ... and a 8 because we should get more of this stuff, it deserves support.
  • Not bad, not bad at all. I gather this is Australian, at least in part, and it seems of a piece with the generally good quality of Australian films, at least those imported to the US compared with the US domestic product.

    As my title suggests, it combines general plot elements of Domino, The Matrix, and the general concept of Blade Runner; it doesn't try to outdo any of them, but instead is a somewhat stripped down, sleek SF action film, more in the spirit of Domino than the somewhat ponderous senses of The Matrix and Blade Runner, which had to set up the cyberpunk world that this movie can now take for granted.

    What's nice about it is a general lack of crap or cheesiness; actors are all good, including Joan Chen and William Sanderson, apparently a permanent fixture of the cyberpunk world since Blade Runner; dialogue is good; no cheesy effects, performances, dialogue, etc. I find this compares favorably with something like Freejack, which had the faint whiff of fromage floating about it, as well as Mad Max (the original) which was sort of obviously cartoonish.
  • In the grand scheme of things this film probably does not deserve a 7/10 - which places it with countless other "better than bad" films. A movie like this is all about expectations going in. High expectations? Not a great movie. Low expectations? Well, this movie is a pleasant surprise.

    There just are not many solid cyberpunk inspired films these days. Classics like the original Matrix and Bladerunner are singular standouts. Movies like Hackers or Brainscan are more the norm. Certainly there are stinkers like Johnny Mnemonic that has too much in common with a bad episode of Earth Final Conflict (an already terrible TV show). Avatar reminds me of the made for TV movie Cypher, though it is not as good as this little known film.

    Avatar is a movie made for the film buff who has seen FAR too many movies. The director clearly has a vision, it keeps a solid consistent pace, and despite what other reviews here state, there is a great deal of ideas and content to like. Perhaps this is an easy movie to hate on, but reviews here that state that "the story is bad," and "the acting is bad," don't give clear reasons to back up their claims. If there is a clear weakness, it would be the casting. I don't mind looking at Genevieve O'Reilly, and one may believe Dash's (yea, thats her name) intelligence, but not the street hardened marksman that the viewer is supposed to buy into. Standout performances would be Joan Chen as an surgically and chemically "enhanced" 90 year old woman, and Kay Siu Lim as Julius. Julius is completely believable as a master of the net, someone who has given up their humanity for a life in cyberspace. I also liked a couple of the other "game masters" in their limited, but clearly fun roles.

    At its core, Avatar is a mystery movie with a cyberpunk backdrop. I feel it could have been improved with noir characteristics of seedier characters, dark relationships, and perhaps more of an antihero. Regardless, the viewer is introduced to a "head hunter" or modern detective who specializes in the apprehension of identity thieves. I have to admit the telling of the story is much better than the story itself. I enjoyed following the main character through her quest to first find an identity thief, then dig deeper into the real story when it becomes clear she is just another pawn in a much larger game. The story suffers from anticlimaxes - points at which the story needs more impact, but somehow the importance of these moments are missed.

    And yet I still enjoyed the film as a whole. Its fun, has style, and though not in the same league as so many other big budget films - still has much to offer in ideas and concepts, which deserve attention.
  • This film was based on William Gibson's SF writing, but he isn't mentioned anywhere in the credits. A challenge to watch, because the dialogue is often muted. If the audio track had been recorded better it would be a better film. The story is not bad, and the ideas are intriguing, but alas, they came from somewhere else...sort of a youth oriented film for younger fans of SF. Maybe a film that would have been better done by a big studio. Better than most trashy Cyber-Punk movies set in the proverbial post apocalyptic garbage can, this future is clean and orderly. The female lead is not that bad, but the film resounds with so many ideas that came from William Gibson it is like watching a mini cornucopia of the SF writers work all rolled into one film, that is written by someone else.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Although this movie has a bit of a slow start, the plot develops quite nicely into an interesting movie dealing with the idea of a controlling class playing 'the game', the only activity that such a group has to do once they have everything. This group of illuminated 'players' work in competition to build the Utopian society in which everyone lives, sometimes making sacrifices for the greater good; either theirs or society. Of course, the controlled wish to be free, and they figured a way to crash the system, thus bringing the powerful out of power and leaving the non-players to be free in a world of chaos, after which a new order will be found. The only problem is that of the rogue player, one which does not desire status, or material wealth, but true power, although one with imbalance is easily removed from the game (as seen near the end).

    An interesting take on game philosophy and the theory of modern revolution. The production was decent, acting improved as the show went on, and the story had few major holes (probably due to editing to keep the runtime down). Recommended for those that like cyberpunk with a touch of Bladerunner and a hint of the matrix, along with philosophy and illumination. Don't expect it to be perfect, but some of the ideas presented are worth watching.

    -- kruhft
  • I watch a lot of movies, generally seven to ten a week. Few of them are very good, even though I try my best to pick the diamonds from the swill. I failed on this one, it's not only lame and derivative, but not even interesting.

    The heroine was drab and a bad fit for the part of a cyber warrior. She looked like a soccer mom acting in a neighborhood production. Bad casting there. I suppose they gave her the part because she was in the Matrix series, and Star Wars.

    The storyline was lame, the special effects were the same ones you've seen over and over, the acting was mediocre at best. Nothing original or innovative in this film. It's hard to get into the plot and next to impossible to care what happens to the characters.
  • OK first off, its not a great movie, the acting is pretty awful. But I give a huge amount of credit for the people behind Cyber Wars taking on the rare challenge of recreating a William Gibson post modern cyberpunk genre film. Its rare that we see these ideas put on display and although this movie is very low budget, what they do with the budget is very detailed and imaginative in recreating a Gibson future. Similar in ways to Johnny Mneumonic, it goes deeper really by far into Cyberpunk reality. Its not near as well made a movie, but its a lot deeper and more interesting than Johnny was. Fans of the Cyberpunk genre owe it to themselves to check this one out.

    Also under movie references, This movie takes a lot more from Neuromancer and other Gibson novels by far than The Matrix. But that movie took a lot from Gibson too. Like the term "Jacked In" and many many more terms that Gibson coined and people take for granted today like Cyberspace, Virtual Reality, Neural Interfacing, etc.

    Even if its not what we would hope to see in every way, it will awaken so many of your greatest memories from first reading Neuromancer. This is a genre we very rarely see and even more rarely, see done covering so many of the cyberpunk monikers as this film covers quite well. Its actually very ambitious of a movie, and you can see it was made by true fans of the genre who really did their best to capture the post modern ambiance, and they mostly succeed! With better actors and better dialogue in parts this would have been really great! But its not awful by any means. Its not like pure junk you find on the Sci-Fi channel usually, or a dumbed down Gibson ripoff, which often leaves people to interpret this film as being pretensious or goofy in ways, but I guess a lot of people still find this genre a little too far fetched even though Gibson has proved himself to be the Prophet of the 20th century by having predicted and even heavily influenced so much of the technology we have now and where we're headed. Its too bad that more people still cant embrace the scope of the ideas of Gibson even today even within their fantasy's.

    Perhaps we'd see a lot more films from this arena, So far The Matrix reigns the Champion, and even it was hard for many people to cope with. And the Wachowskis had a hell of a time convincing Hollywood to producers to go with it. Good for them for pushing it on through!

    Until we can widen our minds to accept more range in our imaginations, then we will continue to see an over abundance of Hollywood remakes that stick to their recipes and safe margins for getting easy profits off the consumers dolling out easily recognizable franchises taken from Comic Books, Video Games, and occasionally good books that don't push the feeble minds of our world too far to think.
  • It was once remarked by B-movie producer Roger Corman, that Singapore would make a great place for a science fiction movie (Corman had co-produced Saint Jack, the only Hollywood movie to date filmed entirely here). And it's true, as we do have a number of locales that look futuristic enough for on location shoots, and more so if given the special effects treatment to spruce things up. The opening shot of the city skyline is something familiar, yet on the other hand, something rather artificial about it - It's not Singapore, it's a fictional city state called Sintawan.

    Avatar probably and unwittingly set itself a high benchmark to meet right from the start, by having that text crawl (cliche) explaining the setting of the world upon which the story is based, talking about Simplants and the police - pitting itself against cult classic Blade Runner. Director Kuo Jian Hong (daughter of the late Kuo Pao Kun, this movie is dedicated in his memory) might have high hopes of Avatar emulating and meeting those standards, or to achieve an indie following, however the fundamentals of having a proper storyline was already flubbed.

    It tried too hard to be intelligent, rather than sticking to the "keep it simple stupid" rule, especially if one is thinking of cramping plenty of tech-no-babble into less than two hours. Unlike The Matrix which seamlessly gelled simplified philosophy into its narrative, and more so as an afterthought rather than assaulting your senses while the story is being told. Speaking of The Matrix, there were also some reference to the giant network storage of persons' identities, a Cyberlink (probably an advanced form of the Net), as well as a subplot involving the police up against a group of rebels, amongst others. Avatar suffered from trying to explain too much in too little time, and will make you switch off when listening to "important" mumbo jumbo you don't' care about, regarding some teleportation technology and identity doppelganging using biological science early in the movie, before shifting gears into presenting some huge conspiracy theory about playing God in the Game (oooh).

    Briefly, we follow the exploits of the best (Singapore, oops, Sintawan everything also must #1) bounty hunter in the business of Simplant capture - Dash MacKenzie (Genevieve O'Reilly), an ang moh, as locals don't have street cred to be leads in the movie. Actually, most of the local actors, prominent ones I must add, were relegated to playing supporting or cameo roles in this production, folks like Lim Kay Siu, Neo Swee Lin, Kumar, Gerald Chew, Richard Low and Kevin Murphy (from S11, didn't know he was that active in previous local productions, the other one being City Sharks, but bit role as well), The other main lead was an Asian actor Wang Luoyong (huh?) who played cop Victor Huang, in pursuit of Dash, and under circumstances beneficial to both, begin an uneasy partnership which blossomed into some hokey romance.

    I think by now any self respecting (I say this in jest) local movie would somehow have a scene set in coffee-shops / hawker centers to get that seal of authenticity that it's made in Singapore. Diners should have no qualms that in Avatar's future, our favorite makan style of choice is still around, with shady covert dealings taking place right underneath hungry bellies. Other locations easily identified included the Expo MRT station (no more EZ-Link cards, your palm is scanned instead), inside MRT trains, Bugis Junction, the area around Empress Place, Little Guilin at Bukit Gombak and even Hotel 81 (yes!) which seemed to retain its perceived sleazy purpose in the movie.

    The acting's all very stiff, probably from the cast's lack of belief in what they're actually doing, and the unbelievable lines they have to say. For a production of the time, it's probably still stuck in a mindset that it is better to engage B/C-graded caliber ang-moh actors than to choose jolly good ones from our local scene. Not that I'm against foreign talent, but in my opinion it's quite a pain to see them going through the motions here, spewing lines of dialog which are and sound so artificial, made worse by their accents.

    Avatar looked like a million dollars, alas it felt like a cheap telemovie. The effects were decent though, but for scenes with extended CG or CG created backgrounds, it ended up a bit raw and looked unpolished. The costumes looked lush, especially Joan Chen's figure hugging and cleavage enhancing outfits. Some shots were done creatively, obviously so to cover up the lack of a bigger budget to get more gizmos mentioned, implied or are actually used in the film, like vehicles - you never actually see them zoom around the city.

    So is Avatar worth watching? Yes, for that lesson on how not to make a science fiction film. One wonders if The Gene Generation will work out successfully, which also casted another Hollywood B-movie specialist Bai Ling in a lead role.
  • Despite the fact that the film has been made very neatly, it is absolutely impossible to say what the film-makers wanted to say by this work. None of the characters arouses interest. Neither do they arouse compassion. Even in cyberpunk there MUST be vivid antagonists and protagonists. I strongly doubt that the film will enjoy box office success with the audience, as it appeals neither to the emotions, nor to the intellect. The film can boast of many special effects, but they contribute little to the atmosphere and the 'charm' of the film. The special effects are also a bit too common for the recent couple of years. There is a lot of rush and bustle, but it is not action. 2 out of 10 only because the crew DID work over it. Labour must be rewarded, anyway.
  • There are basically 2 main problems in this film: the main character and the plot. That said, the visuals are pretty decent, giving a good atmosphere and credibility.

    Now, the main character. Letting aside the fact that this "head-hunter" fits perfectly the archetypal mysterious lonesome harsh persona (Rick Deckard anyone?), the actress doesn't do such a decent job, lacking charisma. That, summed to her amateurish movements in action scenes and her toy-looking gun, makes the experience less enjoyable. Perhaps she was just cheap and didn't mind to show a bit of breast and legs.

    For the plot, well, what can I say. Expect your typical cyberpunk stuff here, no surprises. That doesn't have to be a bad thing necessarily, although a bit of thinking wouldn't have hurt anybody.

    The bottom line: you may like it enough if you are into Cyberpunk, since the FX's are quite OK. For the rest, this could easily be a long episode of a futuristic TV series.
  • A decent movie with a good cyberpunk theme. A very Gibsonesque world complete with wetwiring, neural links, the matrix and even a holo-dolphin being used as an semi-sentient afterlife avatar. The main character is a tough independent women caught up in a world of technocratic intrigue playing a short hand against tough odds. So the scenery is familiar to fans of cyberpunk and anybody who has read mid 80's Gibson.

    Of course the world has moved on and in 2010 the film seems oddly dated. For a more current take on cyberpunk look to Vexille or Paranoia 1.0. This aside I give it kudos for portraying a more honest 80's idea of a virtual world than maybe something like virtuosity. The themes are solid, if a little cartoonish and flat.

    Main gripe would probably be the lead role. She just did not seem to engage with the role. The material may not have been there but I have seen good actors giving a lot more with a lot less. She never seemed hurried or overly perturbed even with the bullets flying and people dieing in front of her. A gunshot wound was just another cheap squib and her acting was not up to the task of making you believe it was anything other. The threatening claustrophobia you would expect from a good techno or cyber thriller was absent.

    Supports were better and gave a solid B grade performance.

    One of the other problems was a noticeable inconsistency in the sound. Some parts were noticeably poorly miked and there were differences in tone and sound continuity. A distraction but not so bad. The music was good and had the right feel.

    Also the lighting never seemed right. The whole film was too bright. Cyberpunk is film noir at heart and there should have been more play with shadows and colours. There was plenty of scope for light play. Scenes where subways lights go out could have been played for darkness but they were not.

    That being said I still enjoyed it. There are not too many movies of it's kind. A Gibonesque story can be hard to pull off even with the best actors, production crews and serious money to throw around (Johnny Mnemonic). The Matrix as envisaged by Gibson always looks a bit cheesy (think lawnmower man) and as I said in 2010 there are real threats from networks that make the 80's cyberpunk themes seem pale (drone war planes, hikikomori, identity theft, net surveillance, rfids and GPS positioning).

    Think of this film as picture postcard from a day at a Gibson beach. Your not really there but it looks nice enough.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    OK, my one-line summary may be a little too harsh: "Avatar" (the title I saw this film under) is an ambitious little effort, with some nice ideas and some decent low-budget visual effects / graphics. But the script is muddled (with a strong let's-make-it-up-as-we-go-along vibe), the dialogue is stilted, and there is a surfeit of meaningless techno-babble. Genevieve O'Reilly is very pretty, but it's hard to get any sort of handle on her character; she's also not nearly as much of an action heroine as the cover and the first five minutes promise. Veterans like David Warner and Joan Chen are mostly wasted. I think I have already forgotten much of the film although I just finished watching it a couple of hours ago! *1/2 out of 4.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Heavily influenced by the novels of Philip K. Dick and William Gibson, AVATAR (2004) is set in a near-future where 'the Cyberlink' - a next-generation version of the internet - dominates everything. People's DNA sequences are recorded onto the Cyberlink as soon as they're born, meaning that the system monitors where they are and what they're doing every second of every day for their entire lives. Money only exists electronically, linked to people's unique DNA profiles, so nobody carries cash or credit cards anymore - all transactions are conducted by swiping a hand over a scanner. All this means that crime is only possible if you possess a false identity, and therefore those who create, sell and buy such identities are cracked down on hard by the newly-formed Ident Police and private contractors. Amongst the latter group is female 'headhunter' Dash MacKenzie, who operates out of an Asian city-state. When she's employed by a major international corporation to find a missing person, the search eventually leads her to a worldwide conspiracy that affects all of humanity.

    AVATAR goes a highly effective job of introducing us to MacKenzie's complex, technology-heavy world, and the script is brimming over with clever ideas. I especially liked the trenchcoat with an in-built coolant system that Dash wears to cope with the city's sweltering heat, and the five-star hotel that is actually a rundown flea-pit hidden under a holographic makeover.

    Unfortunately, after a strong first hour, AVATAR descends during it's final thirty minutes into the kind of idiotic VR silliness that was common in the various Hollywood films that jumped on the LAWNMOWER MAN bandwagon in the mid-Nineties. It's a real pity, as until it's messy and unimaginative last half-hour, AVATAR was shaping up to be something very special indeed.
  • Rabh174 September 2009
    Warning: Spoilers
    I would say that of all the Cybertech cum 'Nueromancer' copycat movies done so far, Cyber Wars is a pleasant surprise.

    This movie is not about cyborg-assassins and Net-punk-gangs rampaging through a dystopian corporate wasteland. It's about a puzzle that happens to envelope the entire world, and the unraveling of a conspiracy.

    The female lead is kind of wooden, which is why I give this movie a 7, but all the other characters flesh out her shortcomings with a modicum of depth. And the antagonists are actually characters with feeling, far from cardboard cut-outs. The technology is showcased nicely as holograms the 'Netlink' trips are cinematically neat. But the best part of this movie is that the SFX does not unduly distract you from the Story itself.

    The core of this movie is this: Would you live in a world where everything is working Okay and Just Right if you knew that the reason everything worked just right was because a secret cabal was minutely Playing the World as a Game to keep everything in 'Balance', but only for their amusement?

    Is it Wrong to want to End this game?

    For those of you looking for something like the "Matrix" on the Cheap-- sorry guyz-- No samurai swordfights. No Off-the-Ceiling Flying Ninja kicks. No non-stop guns 'n' ammo urban warfare battles. No epileptic level pyrotechnics.

    Just an interesting story with a Puzzle of a Question about Choices.

    This movie is Girlfriend Friendly and a good pick for a light Friday Night flick with Nicely salted French Fries.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'll try to keep the spoilers minor. "Cyber Wars" a.k.a. "Avatar" a.k.a. "Matrix Hunter" is sort of William Gibson meets Roman Polanski. It's a cyberpunk suspense film that reminded me over and over of "Chinatown." Not that it's derivative, it just has things in common, like atmosphere, a focus on the dark underbelly of a nice beautiful city, and a pessimistic view of human beings.

    It's set in a major city of the future, the location of which is never specified (although it's the site of a former rain forest). Everyone there is from somewhere else. This point is driven home by having almost everyone in the cast speak English like it isn't their first language, which can get grating. A future evolution of the Internet is a cornerstone of life, and cybernetics, electronics, holograms, antigravity, biotechnology, and other high technology abound.

    Our heroine, Dash MacKenzie, is a bounty hunter who tracks down people who assume new identities using cutting edge technology. Her latest quarry is Edward Chan, who walked away from a seemingly perfect life to become someone else. Who? It's her job to find out. And everybody and their dog is looking for him. That's the setup, and it turns out to be a case of bait-and-switch. The Edward Chan plot is resolved before the halfway mark, and it takes us into a nearly unrelated plot, opening up a web of intrigue that sends our hero to an important convolution of the World Wide Web.

    The future depicted here certainly looks futuristic. It's a striking, unique view of the future, and seems disturbingly believable in some ways but over-the-top in other ways. The effects are good, except for the dragonfly robots, which are low-end C.G.I. The virtual reality of the Cyberlink (read: Internet) is probably the part of the movie that will stick with me the most. I don't know if it's all that creative or original, but it's visually striking, and seems almost like a logical extrapolation. But the movie's futurism is a double-edged sword. Much time that could be used for storytelling is instead devoted to showing off every little thing the writer can imagine and the special effects department can show. Also, because future concepts, words, and eye candy were flying at me left, right, and center, it took me a while to get a grasp on what was actually happening. I guess the idea is that, since these people live in this world, nobody's going to take time to explain everything. That works in "THX 1138." Not so much here. There are a few moments that still have me scratching my head. I can't help but feel that, if a better director had handled this, this future world could be more understandable and even more enthralling.

    Speaking of which, the direction is only a couple rungs above pedestrian. An unfortunate side effect of the similarities to "Chinatown" is that they make me notice how much better directed that film is. I wish "Cyber Wars" could have been directed by someone like Roman Polanski, or at least Rob Bowman.

    But the biggest weakness is the lead actress. Genevieve O'Reilly, best known for her cameo in "Revenge of the Sith," plays Dash, and botches it rather badly. She's wooden, and never seems quite urban enough for someone of her background and profession (part of this isn't the actress' fault: the makeup department makes her look immaculate in every scene). I suspect she was cast solely because she looks good naked (and the viewer is made aware of this to a gratuitous extent). The rest of the cast fares much better, thankfully. Luoyong Wang does a good job of carrying the film (although he's not exactly Laurence Olivier). But the ones who really shine are the tycoons (and some of their cronies), particularly Joan Chen (of "Last Emperor" fame) and David Warner. The other great character is the pathetic washed-up bounty hunter Riley, played by Larry from "Newhart" (I could look up the actor's name, but is that really necessary?). There are a few other neat, colorful characters, who I won't list. Honestly, the main character is very far down the list of interesting people in this movie.

    "Cyber Wars" is a cut above your usual post-"Matrix" cyberthriller. It could have been something truly fantastic if there weren't various flaws chipping away at it, but it's still easy to enjoy. And there's just enough left unexplored to justify a sequel. Maybe Dash can change her identity into a better actress.