The most amazing Matrix knock-off ever — co-starring Coolio!

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A young hacker fights Agent SmithNeville (Adrian Paul!) inside a virtual-reality subway train, and then Coolio and Bai Ling show up to save his ass. Watch Bai Ling make Miss Piggy kung-fu noises, while Coolio hacks the virtual reality itself.

You have to love Coolio's cyber-sheriff outfit, and the way Coolio fist-bumps and then says "By the way, I rewrote the code. Track ends in ten seconds." And then suddenly the train is heading for a huge fiery crash. It's like the one moment of recognizing the Loony Tunes-style potential for reality-hacking silliness in the whole "VR game" concept.


You also have to love Bai Ling's "I look forward to seeing you in the next lifetime." Followed by more Miss Piggy noises.

There are a few reasons to appreciate Code Hunter — one is for the incredible cast. Besides Coolio, Bai Ling and the star of Highlander: The Series, there's also Vanessa Marcil, completely wasted as a plucky reporter who uncovers the cyber-truth. And there's also Tone Loc. Holy Funky Cold Medina! So actually, Code Hunter is only sort of a Matrix rip-off, although the DVD box really wants you to think Wachowski-ish thoughts:


There's a fair amount of virtual reality, and an evil A.I. that wants to destroy or enslave humanity, and stuff, but the plot is a lot more complicated/confusing than that. Basically, the military (it's always the military) has paid this company to develop a weapon that can use storms to destroy enemy installations. But the weapon becomes sentient, and decides to wipe out most of the human race, Skynet-style. Meanwhile, the people who developed the super-weapon have also created a virtual-reality game called Shock, where people fight in cheap-looking urban environments — and someone like Nick can "hack" the game and rewrite the reality of his surroundings. So of course, Nick and his fellow gamer nerds are the only ones who can stop the A.I. from inside the game.

It all leads up to the most heinous scene ever, where Vanessa Marcil's character has been reduced from "crusading reporter" to "chick who hands the dudes energy drinks so they can get hacking." And then Nick's friend Ravi doesn't want to go back into V.R. because he got a puffy eye last time he went in there. So Vanessa has to tell him that chicks dig guys who save the world. And then the dudes toast with energy drinks, with maximum cheesiness, and then Nick and Ravi have to announce their "hacker names" as they jack in:


Finally, Nick and his hacker frenz outsmart Adrian Paul's A.I. in a sneaky way that I can't decide whether it's totally idiotic or kind of cool: they set the computer clock forward to 2099, when the A.I.'s programming is due for an upgrade. Basically it turns into a hilarious twist on the "talking a computer into self-destructing" scene: