by William Joseph Hill
In mid-summer 1999, the idea for Cyber Fighter was created. I was doing an acting role with an action filmmaker on a sizzle reel for his project that he was trying to get off the ground. One day I remarked off-handedly that we should collaborate on a martial arts feature project together that I could star in. He asked if I had a script in mind. I said no, but I could write one!
That committed me to have to come up with the idea and script. At this point, I had written other spec scripts that would have been too high a budget, so I decided to start from scratch. My colleague had cast me on his project to play a comic relief character, so I knew that comedy was going to be the thing.
The first step was to outline all of the various martial arts plots that have been done over the years, in an attempt to come up with something a little different. One of the most common plots was the hero learning kung fu to avenge someone. The movie The Karate Kid played off this theme in a unique way — and I thought that a plot like that would show the biggest character arc for a hero.
But the challenge was “how to make this different?” So I outlined the different plots & brainstormed ways to change things up. At the time, Star Wars Episode I was in theaters, but the real groundbreaking movie of the year was The Matrix. That got me to the question of “What if the hero learned kung fu very quickly?”
I realized that if you could download skills directly to the brain, it would eliminate the “10,000” hours needed to master a new skill. But without all of the training and ups and downs, if you suddenly had skills you didn’t have the day before, how would you deal with that? So much like the Wachowski’s sci-fi epic, I decided to have a “Cyberpunk” theme to the movie. And so, Cyber Fighter was born.
To top it off, I decided to make the hero a complete klutz, so that once he had these new skills, it would be a complete 180 degree change.
The humor was very satirical and irreverent, much like South Park meets the Farrelly Brothers. But unlike most other Hollywood comedies, the action and fight scenes were always meant to be taken seriously. Like Jackie Chan’s movies, the fight quality had to be legit.
In October of 1999, I brought my first draft to an actors’ networking group that was created out of a local murder mystery company. This was where I first met my future wife Pamela. It was love at first sight, and I used the tried and true writer’s pickup line — I asked her to read the stage directions, with other actors reading the roles.
The response was great, and I knew I had something. So began the long journey of turning Cyber Fighter into a completed feature film. But there would be many obstacles along the way…