SFX Issue 3

August 1995

SFX historical notes: In the early days SFX would grade reviews from A+ to D-. Although this was a much-loved system among the readers it was abandoned for the more familiar five-star system in issue 50 because PR companies would not use such an unfamiliar system on book and DV cover blurbs or film posters.

VIDEO REVIEW:

TEKWAR

Distributor: CIC

Starring: Greg Evigan, Eugene Clark, William Shatner
Price: £10.99 each
Running times: 85-87 mins
Tekwar Director: William Shatner (12) D+
Teklords Director: George Bloomfield (12) C-
Teklab Director: Timothy Bond (12) D
Tekjustice Director: Gerard Ciccoritti (PG) C+

It’s the year 2044, and the most powerful drug in the world is Tek – a chip which, when inserted into a headset, enables the user to enter a euphoric cybertrip. Tek is controlled by the Teklords, an international criminal cartel. Jake Cardigan (Evigan), an ex-cop who apparently went bad, is awoken from a cryogenic sentence years early thanks to the intervention of the mysterious Bascom (Shatner), head of the Cosmos Detective Agency. He believes he was set up by the Teklords, but, because he was so high on Tek at the time of his arrest, he can’t remember. Jobless, desperate to clear his name and reunite with his family, Cardigan agrees to work for the CDA, tracking down Tek criminals. In return, Bascom will help in uncover the truth about his alleged crime.

Tekwar pretty much sets up the standard for the rest of the movies, with a lumpy, un-even, incoherent plot which refuses to either explain of follow up any of the concepts it dabbles in, populated by dreamy characters and bogged down with cloying family scenes. There are some atmospheric cyberpunky moments, a couple of half decent effects and a few lively action sequences, but it all looks cheap and suffers from some uninspired acting.

The follow-up, Teklords , is more of the same. The convoluted plot this time has Cardigan trying to track down the source of a computer virus that can infect humans. Quite how is never made clear, because nothing is ever fully explained – the idea seems to be to get as many SF buzzwords into the script as possible and hope the audience doesn’t notice.

If the series has little idea about cyberspace, it has no idea about British monarchy. According to Teklab , the King of England must possess Excalibur to back up his claim to the thrown. So when Excalibur gets nicked, Cardigan travels to the kind of London that only ever existed in Mary Poppins in search of the sword. Chirpy cabbies, “Shut yer gob” dialogue, double-decker buses – they’re all embarrassingly here. And don’t ask how Tek comes into all this…

It’s quite a relief, then, to find Tekjustice bearing at least a semblance to decent drama. It’s a courtroom story in which Cardigan is accused of murdering his ex-wife’s new husband. While it still never wastes an opportunity to be silly (Cardigan’s lawyer is a teenage prodigy) at least the plot is interesting and throws in a few twists.

On the production side, Tekwar is competent rather than impressive, with workmanlike direction, overfamiliar effects and soap opera sets failing to create a convincing future world. It’s often left to the sound effects to remind you that you’re not watching a cop series like MacGyver .

No wonder whoever wrote the book doesn’t mind them being credited to Shatner…