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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Virtual Assassin

December 16, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Virtual Assassin

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #535: Virtual Assassin

Dudikoff December: Week 2

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never interacted with a hologram, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and thirty-five, Dudikoff December continues with the low budget sci-fi action flick Virtual Assassin, which hit home video in mid-September 1995.

Virtual Assassin


Virtual Assassin, also known as Cyberjack and directed by Robert Lee, is a sort of low budget sci-fi action flick rip-off of Die Hard, and by that I mean it’s one of those movies about a group of terrorists who actually turn out to be thieves and the one guy, an everyman sort that also has killer skills, that has to stop the terrorists. The movie’s future setting allows for some nifty looking special effects and some “future tech” that, even in the mid-1990’s, didn’t necessarily look all that futuristic. I mean, outside of having computers and shit everywhere, you know Virtual Assassin takes place in the future because everyone’s gun has some sort of plastic encasement/scope/laser sight/flashlight bullshit on it. And everyone’s clothes look weird. That kind of thing always happens in the future. Weird clothes.

So Dudikoff stars as Nick James, an ex-cop turned burned out sad sack who had to quit the force after his partner was killed by notorious bad guy Nassim (the now very late but always great Brion James) during a botched police operation. James is now a janitor at a big deal tech company called Quantum. James also has a serious gambling problem. Quantum specializes in computer technology and, I guess, bio-medical stuff, and the company’s big, new project is a computer virus that also has a biological element to it. As far as I can tell, the hope for this computer virus is that it will somehow help humanity and, to a certain extent, make big money for Quantum. There are rich Japanese interests involved in the creation of this computer virus (the Japanese were still the big, scary Asian economic powerhouse that China is now in the 1990’s) and it’s expected to be a big deal when it’s finally finished. That is if it ever gets finished. Research and tests have shown there to be complications with melding humans and the virus, complications that the main scientists have been unable to overcome. The lead scientists are the father and daughter team of Dr. Phillip Royce (Duncan Fraser) and Dr. Alex Royce (Suki Kaiser). They think they have a solution for the complications, but they need more time to really figure them out.

One day, after a presentation to those Japanese interests, the main Quantum building is taken over by Nassim and his team of terrorists. Nassim’s team takes out the building’s human security (there are like three guys and they are not exactly a crackerjack team of security guards), commandeers the building’s computerized security mainframe, and takes various scientists hostage. Nassim wants the biological computer virus. The Royce’s try to explain to Nassim that the virus isn’t ready, that there are still major issues with it (a flying bus exploded when the virus somehow took it over as part of a test. We see this happen), and that it’s too dangerous to leave the lab. Nassim doesn’t care. Nassim wants the virus, wants someone to inject it into his own body, and he wants to use the potential power of that virus for potential world domination (or something like that). The Royces agree to give Nassim what he wants but, at the same, Alex’s father tries to stall the release of the virus by locking the computer system the virus sits in. When Nassim finds out what Alex’s father is up to he kills him and then focusses on Alex. She will unlock the virus and she will give it to him.

Now, while all of that is going on, James is still in the building but unaccounted for by Nassim’s terrorists. James has no idea what’s going on (he’s fucking around with a holographic belly dancer/stripper and he really wants to see the woman topless). When James does find out what’s happening, though, he attempts to spring into action and stop Nassim and his gang. Sort of. While James still possesses the necessary skills to take out Nassim and his gang, he doesn’t really have the equipment (guns and knives and explosives and shit like that). James is also somewhat distracted by a baseball game that he’s been keeping tabs on via a radio as he has a major amount of money bet on the game (James owes various bookies serious amounts of money). If the team he bet on loses, there’s a good chance that even if he gets out of the Quantum building alive, the bookies that want him dead will kill him instead. What the hell is James going to do?

The only thing he can do. He’s going to find a way to take out Nassim and his team of terrorists. And he’s going to continue to keep tabs on the game in his “spare time” while systematically eliminating Nassim’s team. James also wants to personally rescue Alex because he has an obvious thing for her (and she has a thing for him, too. James helps her fix her car and then talks to her about baseball. Alex is also a big deal baseball fan).

And the rest of the movie is James taking out Nassim’s team, keeping tabs on the baseball game, and trying to stay alive so he can rescue Alex and the rest of her research team. And while all of that is going on, Nassim is killing researchers one by one. If he doesn’t get what he wants, he’s going to continue to kill researchers until he finally gets the virus.

Eventually, the police show up outside of the Quantum building and try to take out Nassim and his team themselves. The police don’t know that Nassim is inside the Quantum building, though. The police have no idea who has taken over the building. When a weaponized police probe sees James, the cops assume that James is the lead terrorist and start going after him. And it’s at that point that James has to deal with yet another thing. Nassim. Nassim’s team. The cops. The baseball game. How the hell is James going to get out of this situation alive?

There’s probably a little too much stuff going on here. I like that Dudikoff’s James is preoccupied with something else other than the task at hand, taking out Nassim and his team, mostly because you never really see that kind of thing in a low budget sci-fi action flick, but at the same time I don’t think the movie really needs it. The movie would have worked perfectly fine if James was just hell bent on killing Nassim and the terrorists. I’m just going to venture a guess here and say that the reason there’s so much “other stuff” going on because the production couldn’t afford to do more action and needed to fill in the time. That isn’t to say that Virtual Assassin doesn’t have plenty of action in it; it does. But could it have used more? Hell yes.

The movie also could have used more of Brion James being Brion James. Nassim is such a weird character. He has the look of a terrorist of the future (weird hair, trench coat, bulging eyes at random times) and he obviously commands respect because of the team of terrorists he has working for him. He’s also banging a hot babe that likes to kill people for him (that would be Meghan, played by Topaz Hasfal-Schou). Meghan isn’t in it for the money or the virus or whatever. She just likes to kill people for Nassim. The one thing I’m confused about, though, when it comes to Nassim is whether or not Nassim is supposed to have an accent. Sometimes he does have an accent, and sometimes he just sounds “like” Brion James. Is that what James felt like doing, or was James doing what director Robert Lee wanted him to?

Getting back to the action, Virtual Assassin has some decent gun battles and some acceptable hand-to-hand brawling. Dudikoff uses some martial arts moves in these brawls but his James character isn’t necessarily a martial artist (he probably learned some hand-to-hand combat stuff while training to be a cop). The movie also contains some exceptionally ridiculous explosions that are big and nasty and look like they’re happening in a kind of slow motion. It’s not exactly slow motion but it’s damn close. The flying bus, which is either CGI or a model (I can’t tell. It could be both), is the best looking special effect in the movie. The background it flies in is a little weird but the actual bus itself looks fantastic. The holograms are well done, too.

The whole “the police think Dudikoff’s James is the lead terrorist” thing isn’t as interesting as the movie wants you to believe it is. The robot police probe thing is cool to look at, but everything else about it comes off as underdone. Maybe if the police had arrived sooner in the story it would have worked. Maybe.

Now, why was the movie’s title changed from Cyberjack to Virtual Assassin? I have no idea. Cyberjack is a much cooler sounding title, but I’m just going to assume that the title was changed because no one could figure out what “cyberjack” was. Is that a guy’s name? The word is used at least once in the movie, but it’s not like there’s a great amount of context provided within the movie itself. And Cyberjack refers to, I guess, stealing something from the “cyber” world? Virtual Assassin is a cool title, too, but it has very little to do with the actual movie. And based on the version of the movie that I watched, the Virtual Assassin title must have been thrown on the movie at the last minute as the title card is hard to look at.

The cast is good. Dudikoff is sold as ever as James. As I said, the whole “keeping tabs on the baseball game” ads an interesting wrinkle to a part that could have been very single note and Dudikoff does a great job with it. Dudikoff also gives James a world weariness that makes James more real.

Brion James, again, is terrific as Nassim the terrorist. Nassim is weird as hell and James knows exactly how to make that weirdness work for him and the movie. That accent thing still bothers me, but, at the same time, even if the accent thing makes no sense James still makes it work. That is the enduring brilliance of James.

Suki Kaiser is interesting as Alex Royce. She’s smart and resourceful and has instant chemistry with Dudikoff, which is what you want with a love interest. Her big computer scenes are just okay, unless Brion James is standing next to her, yelling at her and threatening to kill one of her colleagues. I’m surprised that she doesn’t end up fighting one of the terrorists in the movie. I actually expected her to.

The rest of the cast is okay. The problem is, outside of Meghan, I can’t remember anyone’s name. The cowboy guy that takes over the Quantum building’s surveillance room is pretty cool (the guy is such an asshole). I will say that the movie could have used more of Alvin Sanders as Johnny, the building’s regular lead security guard. He has great buddy chemistry with Dudikoff and it would have been a hoot if, instead of being murdered by Nassim’s gang, Johnny had been the movie’s Sgt. Al Powell, talking to Dudikoff’s James from the outside while the hostage situation continues.

Virtual Assassin is a solid piece of B-movie cinema. It has a decent cast, a cool look, and some worthwhile action and special effects. It should have better title, though. Cyberjack was a much better title.

See Virtual Assassin. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: At least 30. It’s 77 if you count the air bus crash.

Explosions: Multiple, big and small.

Nudity?: Yes, and it’s pretty good.

Doobage: An air bus flying through a giant virtual billboard, a cop car chasing a motorcycle, multiple small smoke grenades, cop killing, a nightmare, janitor hooey, electric car motor issues, a mobile home that looks out of place, attempted phone sex, green electricity, exploding air bus, a security guard fucking around with his gun, strangulation, silencer hooey, destroying computer equipment, a security guard hologram, bullet to the head, a hot belly dancer/stripper hologram, talking with a hologram, golf club hooey, garbage chute hooey, air duct search, giant wrench to the face, Molotov cocktail hooey, a great “man on fire” gag, donuts, a power failure, exploding cop, exploding cop car, some really terrible running, a great hologram trick, wrist spike to the neck, mild bondage, transistor radio hooey, a police drone, random killing of hostages, a weird hologram trick, grenade attack, shoving a grenade down a man’s throat, exploding henchman, elevator hooey, neck machines, exploding elevator, exploding SWAT van, a police attack, another bullet to the head, a computer virus, face punching, and a happy ending.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: A Stephen Hawking quote about computer viruses and humanity, a low budget futuristic airplane, a low budget sci-fi action movie cityscape, Michael Dudikoff, future baseball talk, Brion James, cell phones on a strap, square TV’s in “the future,” retina scanner, talk of using algebra to seduce a computer scientist, a Japanese businessman, talk of a “random element,” Michael Dudikoff drinking booze while driving, more baseball talk, a barcode license plate, baseball on the radio, a guy laughing at a dead body, “Who is in charge?/”Me.”/”Wrong answer,” Brion James using an accent that’s all over the place, Michael Dudikoff hiding inside of a hologram, Brion James quoting Hamlet, a police drone, elevator stuff, a metal flask blocking a bullet, a severely compromised SWAT team, Brion James becoming one with the cyber world, and a happy ending.

Best lines: “Remind me to quit my job tomorrow,” “This guy is good,” “So how about them Neptunes?,” “Hey, hey, shitbird, did you forget something?,” “Your remote is shot. Great. What is my remote?,” “Careful. You’re drifting into foul territory,” “You owe me ten G’s!,” “No goddamit!,” “It looks like it’s invasion of the rug doctors,” “Outstanding, Nom. You’re a good boy,” “Can’t win for losing,” “After tonight, God will be lucky if I return his phone calls,” “Wrong answer, Phil,” “Okay, who ordered the janitor sandwich?,” “Devin, find the janitor and kill it. I have enough distractions,” “Wait! John doesn’t have a wife!,” “Looks like we’re on our own, Pedro,” “He’s close. I can smell the floor wax,” “Here’s your janitor, bullet head!,” “I didn’t know they teach guerilla warfare at janitor school,” “Looks like you’ve got a little virus problem of your own,” “Eh. Nick James. Nick, Nick. I used to fuck a guy in prison named Nick. Nah, that was Nick Jones,” “You are playing a dangerous game, janitor. So are you,” “I’m the good guy, you stupid machine! Your response is inappropriate,” “It’s holy!,” “My radio!,” “Clean up time!,” “We did it! We eradicated it!,” and “Officer James. Welcome back.”

Rating: 8.0/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For


Hard Night Falling: Another week, another new Dolph Lundgren low budget action flick. This one has Dolph as some sort of badass special agent that has to save his family and a building full of hostages from a group of terrorists/thieves that want to steal gold or some shit. The trailer isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but I like the concept, and it’s always awesome to have a new Dolph Lundgren movie out there, waiting for us to experience. Don’t be surprised if this shows up at some point here in this column in 2020. It could very well happen.


Once Upon a Time in… Hollywood: I actually got to see this new Quentin Tarantino movie this past summer in a movie theatre, and I thought it was pretty good. It wasn’t spectacular or anything, but it was entertaining and well made. Both Brad Pitt and Leonardo DiCaprio do good work, and while I think the movie is way too long, it’s worth sitting through at least once. Will it be an Oscar contender? Who knows? But it will be interesting to see how all of that stuff plays out. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association sure seems to like it.


It: Chapter Two: I managed to see this in a theatre, too, and it was okay. Bill Hader is excellent in it, as are Jessica Chastain and Jay Ryan, but the rest of the cast is only fair. The special effects are dodgy, especially the de-aging stuff used on the kids (why does Ben look normal in one scene and then a weird blob in the next?), and Pennywise isn’t scary at all. In fact, his only scary scene is his first one, on the riverbank when he attacks the gay guy. After that he’s just some weird CGI thing. I prefer the first one, although, really, if you bothered to see the first one you should sit through this one at least once, just to see how the story plays out (in case you didn’t already know). Does anyone out there think we’ll ever get that six-hour “super cut” that director Andy Muschietti has talked about?


The Fanatic: This new low budget thriller starring John Travolta and Devon Sawa and directed by Fred Durst has been getting all sorts of buzz since its release earlier this year, although none of it has been good. I have no idea if it deserves all of the negativity it has received, but I am curious to see it anyway. Travolta’s villain performance has been labeled as insane, and, really, who wouldn’t want to see John Travolta, at this stage of his career, chewing the scenery and acting like a total loonbag? Anyone out there see this? Is it as bad as the reviews claim?


Next Issue: Dudikoff December continues with Executive Command!


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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Virtual Assassin

Michael Dudikoff– Nick James
Brion James– Nassim
Suki Kaiser– Dr. Alex Royce
Jon Cuthbert– Devon
James Thom– Travis
Topaz Hasfal-Schou– Meghan
Duncan Fraser– Dr. Phillip Royce
Alvin Sanders– Johnny

(check out the rest of the cast here

Directed by Robert Lee
Screenplay by Eric Popen

Distributed by Prism Entertainment Corporation, Turner Home Entertainment, and Platinum Disc

Rated R for strong action violence, language, and a scene of nudity
Runtime– 100 minutes

Buy it here or here