Review: Manborg / Cert: TBC / Director: Steven Kostanski / Screenplay: Steven Kostanski / Starring: Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Ludwig Lee, Conor Sweeney, Meredith Sweeney / Release Date: TBC
At some point in the near future, the Gates To Hell are opened, unleashing an army of evil Nazi Vampires with whom there are several large wars. Led by Count Draculon, the army from Hell eventually prove victorious, and all humankind finds itself being ruled and tortured by these horrendous creatures.
Our hero begins as a soldier fighting in the ‘Third Hell War’. Following his brother’s death, he is the only soldier brave enough to attack Count Draculon. Of course, he loses, and is left for dead. He wakes up years later in a box, as Manborg. Part man, part cyborg. He has been designed to fight and defeat evil Count. His new armaments include a rocket launcher in his elbow, a laser beam and a powerful machine gun, as well as increased strength (which must come as standard in these situations). He is also much slower, and less co-ordinated than he had been previously.
Manborg hooks up with a team of heroes. Number One Man is an Asian martial arts expert, with a dubbed voice. Mina is the tough street-kid after revenge. Her brother, Justice, is the final member of the group. He can’t read, but is fond of one-liners and bizarre dance moves whilst fighting.
Manborg had no budget. To the film-maker’s credit, instead of simply having awful special effects, the rest of the film has been made ‘badly’ too. It is jumpy and oddly shot, which takes time to get used to, but does prove atmospheric and successfully frames the film in its own weird bubble of surrealism. It feels like a nightmare, and I enjoyed it. There is also use of stop-motion plasticine work for some of the villains, which is always welcome and fits with Manborg’s retro feeling. The film is a homage to some of the great (and not-so-great) cult movies of the 1980’s. It certainly feels as if Manborg is moving through a list of items, ticking them off. Training montage, check. Girl fight, check. Dubbed dialogue, check...
This is not a film to be taken seriously, and it is played for laughs. The evil Nazi Vampires, for example, chase our heroes on floating glowing energy surf boards. (Yes, evil surfing Nazi vampires...) The Baron is an evil hell creature in charge of the prison. He has a smoking habit, and a crush on Mina - bringing her flowers, and trying to figure out why she doesn’t fall for him. Also, the mask worn by the actor has a mouth that is constantly open in a toothy grimace, and doesn’t move as the character speaks.
At just over 60 mins, Manborg is the perfect length. Any longer and the fun would wear off, and the stylistic choices induce a headache. As it is, Manborg is a fun, insane romp through a blend of 1980’s science fiction and horror. Beer is a necessary accompaniment.
Expected: 6 out of 10