As soon as the VHS-era styled Astron-6 logo popped up on the screen, I knew I was in for something special. If you’re like me, you grew up on Terminator, Robocop and myriad other half-man/half-robot heroes and villains. This movie attempts to reach back into our collective childhoods and pull all the high points into this time. For the most part, I’d say it succeeds.
Awakening in the far future, a soldier who died on the battlefield fighting hells legions discovers that he has been rebuilt using hell’s technology but has no idea who performed the operation or why. He quickly finds himself in trouble and thrown into a jail of sorts with a very interesting cast of characters, all reminiscent of some comic book or video game you’ll likely be familiar with. Together, they battle Hells creatures in an attempt to free themselves (and mankind) from their enslavement. That’s all I’m really going to say about the plot for one big reason: There isn’t really much more of it to speak of. The filmmakers know why you are here and what you want to see and the pacing and story elements of the film reflect that. They don’t waste much time on explanations or character back stories, you plunge head-first into the action from the onset.
Manborg had me smiling and laughing from pretty much the very beginning, be it due to the cheesily delivered one liners (“Go to Hell!” “No, not yet. Soon, I will bring Hell to you!” Classic!) to the stop-motion creatures and laser blasts that saturate almost every shot to the (intentionally) badly dubbed actors. The Casio keyboard/rock guitar soundtrack sets the mood perfectly and the feels like it was stolen from some unreleased gem from the 80’s rather than composed by someone in the year 2012. I had done some reading up on Manborg before I watched it (as well as just being generally familiar with Astron-6’s work), so I was aware that this movie was made for roughly $1000. Let me tell you, these guys know how to make there money work for them. The makeup effects alone are more impressive than some large budget movies I’ve seen recently.
With all this praise I’m heaping on this movie, I must give a word of warning. Manborg is not for people who take movies too seriously or are expecting acting beyond school play caliber. This is mindless entertainment pure and simple. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this movies strengths are also it’s weakness’s. If you don’t have a built in love for Mortal Kombat, cyborgs, Dracula and demons, you might just find this a confusing mess and end up frustrated. But then again, if you don’t already appreciate the above, how the hell did you end up on this website, reading a review for a movie called Manborg?
In closing, I recommend this movie to any fans of late 80’s/early 90’s VHS tapes, Charles Bands particular brand of cheapness, Robocop and Mortal Kombat. Oh, and for fuck sakes go out and actually buy this movie, don’t pirate it. Support these guys so we can see more original and interesting ideas in the future. Now get the hell out of here, I’m going to go play some Far Cry: Blood Dragon!