Love Letter: Fender

Dude, can you even see?
You know, there's a lot of love for a villain out there that's smart and multidimensional. The schemer, the manipulator, the idealist. The kind of guy you know is only a casting choice away from being a hero. However, straight evil guys, guys who just live on strife, can easily be just as or more fun than those. One such is the first entry into my new series Love Letter, where I gush about the things I like.

The movie Cyborg has a bit of a cult following. Originally an attempt at a sequel to the live action Masters of the Universe movie AND Spider-Man, somehow, Cyborg is one of Jean Claude Van Damme's team up movies that had him teaming up with a cyborg woman in a post apocalyptic scenario before he teamed up with a gay rights icon, videogame characters, or Jean Claude Van Damme. But really, it's the film's villain, Fender that takes the cake.
Then he sets the cake on fire.



Fender Tremolo, as played by surfer Vincent Klyn, is the leader of a gang of marauders that terrorize whoever they can find, apparently for shits and giggles. A tall guy in chainmail and big 80s glasses to hide his freaky eyes,he is as primal and basic as villains come.

The movie by describing the events that lead to the world being thrown back to pretty much the middle ages, and the efforts of some scientists to fix it, and then the narrator turns out to be Fender, who declares he really that he likes the world in it's current state. By screaming. Subverting the narration? My God!

It's clear Fender, like myself, sees the apocalypse as a chance for rapid social ascension by way of "everyone who could have stopped me is dead." When he's not killing people by sticking sharp objects in their mouths, he's searching for Pearl, the titular Cyborg who has the cure for the plague. This drives her to seek the help of Jean Claude Van Damme, who in this movie is a mercenary and protector to those who can pay.

Of course, JCVD has his own past history with Fender, which he recalls as he's crucified by the guy. Back when he was a young, optimist mercenary in the...it's still post apocalypse, I think...Fender put him, his  child and his wife aloft over a well, forcing  Van Damme's other kid to try and save them by HOLDING A BARB WIRE.
Spoiler Alert: Character's who's last name isn't Van Damme die in this scene.

See, Fender isn't just a power hungry madman. He's worst, a sadist. A man who, as they say in my country, will shoot you just to see you jump. The kind of man who knows no remorse or redemption. He's the result of a world with no laws: where you just know some random asshole is gonna try and push everyone until they fall or push back.
The kind of guy you don't want staring at you while you sleep.

But in the end, Fender's just a man, right? When it comes to the movies physical resolution of the conflict, It's easy to remember who's name is atop the poster, and lose that suspension of disbelief. How can some dumb ass leader of a gang defeat the Muscles from Brussels, a trained superfighter who can do the splits on a whim?

Here's how: Fender is immune to pain.

When I was a kid, this scene scared the hell out of me.  I thought Fender really was a cyborg all along. Even thought it just occurred to me he was shown as a young man earlier. Van Damme fuckin' punches the guy, and it's like he's got a button on his face that says: "Primal Scream action Fender!Try me! !" It's never really explained, but I subscribe to the theory of strength by madness. See, unlike certain other people, Van Damme, or at least the makers of this movie understood that if the good guy isn't threatened, the whole thing falls flat.
This is the kind of stuff we want heroes to stop.

And in the end, we feel all the more happier when Van Damme defeats Fender and reunites with his estranged daughter.  Fender really did make this movie. With a story of redemption, revenge, and other played out elements like this, you really need something to make a film above average. Fender may not be the most layered, or innovative villain out there, but he plays it up to eleven and that's why we love him.


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