Teri Marshall (Heather Thomas) is a badass biker babe whose brainy boyfriend Rick (Jeffrey Combs of Re-Animator (1985)) has invented a hi-tech super-cycle called Cyclone, armed with rocket launchers and laser guns. Whilst partying with Teri at a nightclub, Rick is fatally stabbed by a couple of punk rock assassins (Dar Robinson and Dawn Wildsmith) in league with evil arms dealers out to grab the bike before it gets to the American government. Still reeling from the death of her boyfriend, Teri is forced to go on the run with Cyclone, facing down enemy agents and hired killers with the fortunate aid of some heavy firepower.
Super-vehicles were all the rage back in the gas-guzzling, ozone-layer-be-damned environment of the 1980s. For the most part this was a phenomenon confined to television with shows like Knight Rider, Airwolf and the justly-forgotten Street Hawk whose cycle-straddling superhero once memorably faced down a pre-stardom, villainous George Clooney. Cyclone ranks among the few big screen variants on the theme, arriving at a time when films by future DTV king Fred Olen Ray still played in theatres. Originally penned as a vehicle (pun intended) for Linda Blair, Ray lucked out with replacement star Heather Thomas whose weekly bikini-clad antics opposite Lee Majors in The Fall Guy made her a popular pinup girl of the era.
Thomas brings a welcome degree of charm and self-deprecating humour to her hardboiled heroine. Whether karate-slapping smart-mouthed villains, stoically enduring electro-shock torture or simply shimmying to bad rock music in a revealing neon lycra outfit, she is a winning screen presence. Always the movie buff, Ray surrounds his blonde bombshell star with a truly eclectic ensemble: Martin Landau hams it up as the evil mastermind behind the whole scheme, Hammer glamour girl Martine Beswick appears as a machinegun-toting government agent, former Fifties heartthrob Troy Donahue pops up long enough to take a bullet in the chest, Russ Tamblyn is onscreen for all of one minute, Robert Quarry - star of Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) - plays Beswick’s treacherous partner, Ashley Ferrare of Revenge of the Ninja (1983) is Thomas’ lycra-clad gal pal, and one-time Bowery Boys comic Huntz Hall puts in a cameo as storekeeper who goes bug-eyed over Thomas’ blouse-busting pulchritude.
Alas, Ray is no Joe Dante. All the cult star cameos can’t hide the fact that aside from being able to shoot fast and bring a film in on budget, he brings nothing much in the way of style or wit to his exploitation outings. With the budget evidently not up to much in the way of fast-paced action, Ray pads the film with pointless chatter, musical montages (which in his defence, he has blamed on the producers aping the then-popular MTV derived style of Miami Vice) and a surfeit of campy humour. The action is largely confined to the last fifteen minutes or so. While staged without flair it is modestly entertaining for connoisseurs of death rays and explosions, plus a blonde on blonde chick fight proves quite amusing. The script co-authored by Ray, Paul Garson and T.L. Lankford packs a handful of satisfying twists and wry lines but the direction lacks that certain alchemical touch that turns trash into gold. Heather Thomas fans would be better off watching re-runs of The Fall Guy.