When production of Star Trek V shut down for three months due to a union strike, William Shatner occupied his time by developing an idea for a novel that was “T.J. Hooker meets The Fugitive in the Star Trek future” (Up Til Now). This novel idea – no pun intended – was ghostwritten by author Ron Goulart, and became that which we now know as TekWar.
It was actually fairly successful, no doubt fueled by Shatner’s name recognition, and led to a franchise, spanning 8 novels, 2 comic series, a fondly remembered computer game, and this short-lived television series.
The story takes place in the future (2120 in the books, 2043 in the show) and follows Jake Cardigan, ex-cop turned security agent, in his fight against Tek – an addictive form of technology that allows people to see their greatest desires manifested in realistic hallucinations, but at the cost of neurological damage, even death.
The television series found its origins in a series of 4 television movies, considered the show’s first season, which were followed by an 18 episode second season.
Ex-cop Jake Cardigan is released early from cryostasis prison, having served 4 years of his 15 year sentence. His crime? Becoming addicted to Tek while on an undercover mission and killing his partners.
Jake immediately heads home but finds it deserted. The stress of the trial was too much for his wife Kate and son Danny, so they left him.
He heads to the shady part of town to recruit a couple hackers to help him find his family. We get a quaint/embarrassing scene of the hackers literally navigating through “the matrix” of cyberspace, a virtual reality interface full of lovely ’90s CGI.
Jake makes contact with Danny via hologram, but Danny just wants to be left alone.
A depressed Jake leaves the hackers and turns to a Tek dealer for an escape from reality.
Jake Opens His Eyes
Back home, Jake puts on the Tek headset and has a fantasy about making out with his now ex-wife. Jake’s former partner Sid Gomez arrives just in time to pull off the headset, returning Jake to reality.
Gomez left the police force and now works for Cosmos, a private security firm. He takes Jake over to the Cosmos offices to meet Walter Bascom, company CEO, and his assistant, Centra. Bascom is the one responsible for pulling Jake out of prison early but for reasons unknown. Jake agrees to work for Cosmos in return for help in clearing his name.
Bascom assigns Jake his first job: find missing scientist Dr. Kittridge. Jake and Sid are to meet with Kittridge’s assistant and ex-lover, Dr. Danenberg, who has information on the good doctor’s whereabouts.
At a park, a little girl kamikaze robot (like from Screamers) grabs Danenberg and blows up! However, this wasn’t the real Danenberg, but an android duplicate. Real Danenberg shows up at Jake’s house to give him a boatload of exposition.
Jake learns that Dr. Kittridge is working for the Tek Lord Sonny Hokori to make a crystal that has the power to destroy all Tek, everywhere. Once Tek is gone, Kittridge will develop new, crystal-resistant Tek that Hokori will start distributing to become top (and only) Tek Lord.
Jake heads over to Kittridge’s lab for clues and finds an android simulacrum of Kittridge’s daughter, Beth. She tells Jake that Dr. Kittridge went to the outer territories, home of eco-rebels that reject technology and corporate society; they are led by a woman named Warbride, who just happens to be an old flame of Jake’s.
Jake arranges a meeting with Warbride at a hockey rink (because this movie was filmed in Canada), but she sends her disloyal second-in-command Vargas in her stead, who tries to kill Jake with a hockey player android.
After destroying the android, Jake and Android Beth head to the outer territories and tell Warbride that Vargas is secretly working for Hokori, while Warbride tells them that the real Beth is dead. Bummer.
Warbride gives Jake and Android Beth a disc belonging to Vargas with a video recording of Hokori. Centra analyzes the background of the video and discovers the location of Hokori’s base of operations. Jake, Android Beth, and Gomez get ready to go…
Oh, wait, hold on. Before they can do that, let’s revisit the “Jake misses his family” plot. He has a brief meeting with Kate, who tells him to stay away from Danny. Android Beth professes her random romantic feelings for Jake and kisses him, but gets interrupted by the presence of Danny. Wait, that’s not the real Danny – it’s a kamikaze android duplicate! Android Beth sacrifices herself for Jake by intercepting Fake Danny and exploding.
Back to the main story, Jake and Gomez go undercover at Hokori’s base using morph mask disguises (a hood with a face hologram projected on them) and find Dr. Kittridge with the crystal. Hokori shows up and there’s a shootout, but the police arrive and he is arrested.
Jake heads back to his lab with the crystal, but the real Beth Kittridge is there waiting for him. She faked her death to keep a low profile and stop the crystal from falling into the wrong hands.
Police android Lt. Winger shows up to collect the crystal; we discover he was reprogrammed to work for Hokori and was responsible for killing Jake’s partners 4 years ago.
Jake does a computer thing that electrocutes/destroys Winger and the crystal. Then Beth and Jake head outside, a song plays, credits roll.
I love TekWar (the series)! It has bad acting and writing, but it’s fun and cheesy with sprinkles of legitimate science fiction and interesting concepts of near future technology. I’m not a big fan of the movies, though, as the longer runtime does the story no favors. You could get away with skipping them and starting with episode 1.
The story of this film is based on the first TekWar novel, and it’s incredibly linear. Nearly every scene introduces a character whose sole purpose is to move the story forward to the next scene; the entire Warbride plot in the middle of the film is especially guilty of this.
This film also has its fair share of contrived moments, like Warbride being Jake’s ex-girlfriend (way too convenient) and Android Beth quickly sacrificing herself to make room for Real Beth. Come to think of it, what was the purpose of Android Beth anyway? Just so there could be a dramatic twist at the end to reveal that Real Beth is alive?
I was also disappointed by the revelation at the end that Winger was working for Hokori; another twist for the sake of having a twist. One thing’s for sure – between her, Danenberg, and Danny, there are too many android duplicates of people running around.
If you love playing “spot the familiar Canadian sci-fi actor” then you’ll love this film, as there are a ton. There’s William Shatner, of course, but also Doctor Weir from Stargate Atlantis, Rommie from Andromeda, and three people from Earth: Final Conflict!
All of them can be summed up with one word.