DVD REVIEW: HK: FORBIDDEN SUPERHERO / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: YÛICHI FUKUDA / SCREENPLAY: YÛICHI FUKUDA, SHUN OGURI / STARRING: RYÔHEI SUZUKI, FUMIKA SHIMIZU, TSUYOSHI MURO, KEN YASUDA, NANA KATASE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Kyosuke is just an ordinary schoolboy, drifting through his teenage years unnoticed and unappreciated. Until one day, he discovers that when he puts women’s underwear on his head, in a flash he is transformed into the world’s kinkiest superhero: PERVERT MASK! Born of a masochist police officer and a dominatrix, his father’s sense of justice and his mother’s unbridled kink unite to create a force for righteousness unafraid of pain and unshackled from reason. The world of crime won’t know what hit it. In the face. With a bulging nutsack.
As you’ve likely already guessed, Forbidden Superhero is not a film to be taken seriously. Based on cult manga Hentai Kamen (Japanese for Pervert Mask and the HK of the title) everything about it screams its live action comic book ambitions. Some story beats and themes intentionally echo Spider-Man (balancing superhero-ism with schoolwork; a crush on a classmate; With Great Power…) along with the title sequence parodying that of the webslinger’s big screen outings and a particularly memorable scene that sees Kyosuke spinning in silhouette across an impossibly large moon and swinging through the city streets, soaring on kinbaku ropes summoned from thin air as inexplicably as the yellow pseudo-Spider-Man mask that appears beneath the underwear on his head.
As soon as the knickers hit Kyosuke’s face, his superhero transformation takes place in a blaze of incandescence, revealing a ridiculously ripped and bronzed body clad only in a mankini and fishnet stockings. Homoerotic posing and camp mincing is frequent, as is the defeat criminals via a variety of extravagant powers that often incorporate extreme close-ups of face/crotch full-contact battering.
Like any good superhero, Kyosuke is caught in a struggle between his two identities. Although he is undeniably a force for good as Pervert Mask and is able to help people in the guise of his histrionic alter ego, he struggles to make peace with his powers being born of his perversion. Ashamed of people’s perception of him as a pervert, he is terrified of his identity being uncovered, especially with regards to what the cute new girl Aiko will think of him.
Despite the origin of Pervert Mask’s powers being an underwear fetish, the film has very little in the way of female objectification; seen from Kyosuke’s perspective, women are there to be unattainable rather than dehumanised. In fact, a Pervert Mask impostor whose entire MO is running around and pulling up women’s skirts is as close to misogyny as the film gets.
A vague relation to a coherent plot comes from Tamao, a villainous gangster with a tendency to skip about with his hair in pigtails, who begins a somewhat juvenile reign of terror throughout the school to clear the establishment of all its pupils and demolish it so he can search for the hidden treasure beneath that he’s, um, absolutely sure is there. Look, we’ve already established nothing about this film makes the slightest bit of sense. Just go with it.Although Forbidden Superhero is as unapologetically ridiculous as it sounds, its brazen crassness and sheer balls-to-the-wall WTF-ery result in something bizarrely compelling. If you’re looking for reason and logic then this is really not the film for you, but if you watch it with the same sense of the ludicrous with which it was made, it will likely become something of a guilty pleasure.