Virtual Combat
aka: Grid Runners
(1995)

SHORT VERSION:
David learns from Liana about how she, Greta, and Dante were brought to life via the protoplasm tank in Dr. Cameron’s lab, and that Dante had killed Cameron and his grid runner partner Gibson. She also says that Dante plans to access the mainframe at Burtech Industries’ headquarters and reactivate the tank from there (since Cameron shut down the tank and rendered it unable to be reactivated in his lab) so he can bring more VR killers to life.

David first fights Greta and kills her when he hits her hard several times and she disintegrates, and he learns from his computer that any constant pressure over 500 PSI causes deterioration in artificial life forms. Burroughs, the head of Burtech, has his goons capture Liana and bring her to the Burtech building, where he refits her neck with a pressure band. David comes to her rescue, and she gets the band off of her and onto Burroughs and activates it, crushing his neck to the point of decapitation. Dante then enters the building, but when David and Liana try to reach the mainframe’s control center before him, he surprises them and grabs Liana, then kills her when David won’t back down. He then enters the mainframe and gets the protoplasm tank reactivated, but David shows up and fights him until he kills him in the same manner in which he killed Greta. He then shuts down the tank before any VR killers can come into existence.

Later on, David visits the virtual reality arcade again, but instead of playing another fighting game, he plays a program he created that features Liana so he can technically still be with her.

LONG VERSION:
Liana (Athena Massey) eventually tells David (Don “The Dragon” Wilson) of how she is one of three VR characters brought to life via the protoplasm tank in Dr. Cameron’s (Turhan Bey) laboratory, along with Greta (Dawn Ann Billings) and Dante (Michael Bernardo, voice by Michael Dorn), and she informs him that Dante was the one who killed Cameron as well as his grid runner partner Gibson (Ken McLeod). She also says that Dante is planning to reactivate the protoplasm tank in order to bring to life more VR killers like himself, and he seeks to accomplish this through remote accessing the lab from the mainframe at Burtech Industries’ headquarters (the first time he tried to do it at Cameron’s lab, Cameron completely shut down the tank and rendered it unable to be reactivated in the lab, and he foolishly told Dante where he could start it back up again).

David and Liana lure Dante (and Greta) to Little Tokyo to try to put a stop to him, but he easily dazes David in their brief confrontation and then grabs Liana and takes off. David is then attacked by Greta, and after a short fight, he hits her with several hard blows that causes her body to suddenly disintegrate. Upon consulting Mary (Stella Stevens) on his handheld computer and having her analyze what caused this, he learns that the solids hits he made compressed Greta’s molecular structure, and any constant pressure over 500 PSI causes deterioration in artificial life forms like her. Meanwhile, Dante gets halted by Burroughs’ (Ron Barker) top henchman Parness (Loren Avedon) and his underlings, and as he deals with the underlings, Liana is tasered by Parness and brought to Burroughs, and he puts a new pressure band around her neck. Burroughs then orders Parness to find and kill both David and Dante.

David contacts his former commander Doyle (Gilbert Lewis) from a room in a seedy hotel and informs him of how Dr. Cameron cloned the VR characters and how Dante killed Gibson, and says that Burtech is likely involved in all of this. Doyle meets David in his room later on, and David tells him of Dante’s plan to bring more VR killers to life and that they need to shut Burtech’s mainframe down, but Doyle informs him that they can’t because all of Los Angeles uses that mainframe for code red calls and emergency services. David then shows him the pressure band that he earlier took off of Liana as proof of Burtech’s involvement, but he says that this is not enough evidence to arrest Burroughs with. He tries to convince David to turn this whole matter over to the federal authorities, but David refuses. He then reveals to David that he is in league with Burroughs when he tries to stab him with a knife, but David easily beats him up and kicks him out of a window to his death on the ground.

David sneaks into the Burtech building and plants his handheld computer in the elevator while on his way up to the floor Burrough’s office is on, but soon after reaching the floor, he is tasered from behind by Parness and brought before Burroughs. Burroughs takes out a gun and prepares to shoot him with it, but David then calls out Mary’s name on the computer disguised as a last prayer. She fakes an announcement from the FBI that they are there and have the place surrounded, distracting the antagonists and allowing David to get free. He knocks out Parness and the other goons present while Burroughs runs with Liana, and he tells a security guard that he wants his helicopter to meet him in the plaza outside. David catches up to Burroughs out there, but he tells him to back off or he’ll activate Liana’s pressure band with his remote. David making him drop the remote by throwing a knife into his hand, and Liana then grabs it and uses it to get the band off of her while Burroughs fires his gun at David. Just as Burroughs thinks he had David beat, Liana quickly puts the band around his neck and turns it on, and the band crushes his neck so hard that it decapitates him. A gunman in the helicopter then opens fire on them, and David picks up Burroughs’ gun and fires a series of shots at the helicopter until it explodes (for some reality-defying reason). Liana then warns David of a vision she is having of Dante now being in the building and heading towards the room housing the mainframe’s control center.

David and Liana head for the room to intercept Dante, but as they get near it, Dante surprises them and grabs Liana, and he orders David to leave now and he’ll let her live. David refuses, so Dante snaps her neck and kills her and then continues on, with David giving chase as her body disintegrates. Once in the control center, Dante creates a plug from his own body and puts it into the matrix interface outlet, then accesses the tank in Cameron’s lab and gets the cloning procedure started. David then arrives, and he and Dante have a tough fight that goes from the control room all the way to the roof and down into a warehouse, with Dante in control for most of it. Just as it looks like he is about to finish David off, David knocks him flat on his back and delivers a double-footed stomp to his torso, and the force of the hit causes Dante to die in the same manner as Greta. He then takes Dante’s plug and reinserts it into the matrix interface to turn off the tank just before the first VR killer can come into existence.

David returns to Las Vegas, and he gives Gibson’s widow Cathy (Carrie Mitchum) a VR program that Gibson created for her before his death that features his virtual self, so he will never really be gone from her life. Perhaps inspired at least partially by this, David later pays another visit to the virtual reality arcade, but instead of partaking in his usual fighting game, he plays a program he created that features Liana so he can technically still have her in his life. They share a kiss as the movie comes to a close.

Thanks Tornado Dragon!

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