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This review is from: Manborg (DVD)
There are generally two types of modern throwbacks to the grindhouse films of yore. I tend to favor the more fervent such as Jason Eisener's masterpiece, Hobo With A Shotgun. Hobo shows so much love, sincerity, and aspiration for its inspiration that it easily surpasses the foundation laid 40 years ago. The other type of shoutout, the silly, over-the-top, ironic comedy, usually misses the mark painfully. The folks that make up Astron-6 may walk the path of the absurdly goofy wink and nod, but they are proving themselves to be the best at it.
Manborg is the story of a soldier who has been killed in battle against an invading army of demons from Hell lead by Count Draculon. He awakens years later rebuilt and ready for revenge. Changed to be both Man and Borg, his name is Manborg. Count Draculon now reigns supreme over one of the last major cities on earth, and forces humans rounded up on the streets to battle in an arena for entertainment. Whether or not he was also the one to make them dress up as awful Street Fighter cosplayers is never brought up.
Manborg is captured and forced to battle demons alongside his newfound friends as they struggle against an increasingly unentertained Count.
Manborg will require some patience. The first thing that you notice is how much of a blurry mess the whole thing is. It looks like a flip phone camera recorded this off of another flip phone screen that was smeared in vaseline. The opening scenes are so chaotically edited and stitched together that it will hurt your brain. The film is almost completely green-screened behind real actors, and the amount of different layers projected on the screen and how they interact will make your eyes bleed. Foreground and background images move independently of each other. Each layer disregards camera movement in its own spastic way. All of this seems unbearable, but only until your brain adjusts to the schizophrenia.
Once you are introduced to the characters, all of that obnoxious visual noise fades away. The comedic timing applied to genuinely hilarious dialogue replaces tears of pain with tears of pleasure. The character comedy is the highlight. None of the characters exist to just be joke delivery systems. Each one has clearly defined personas and the comedy falls in line accordingly. None of the gags are throwaway, either. Manborg's every move is a beautiful labor of pain with mechanical whirls and gears grinding all the way to the very end. #1 Man, the Liu Kang wannabe, is voiced by another person whose vocals have been laid over the original audio. This all shows an attention to detail that comes along very rarely to comedies.
For such a visually ugly film, it does have its highlights. The stop motion bits are fantastic. They certainly aren't the most polished, and the frame counts look quite low, but they have an awesome style to them that adds a lot of character to an already character-packed film.
Overall, this is a very silly film filled with intelligent writing and clever gags. While it won't be everyone's cup of tea, Manborg deserves its place on the mantle of every offbeat comedy lover.