Manborg (2011)
By: Devon B. on July 22, 2013 | Comments
Monster Pictures | Region 4, NTSC | 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 2.0 | 71 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Director: Steven Kostanski
Starring: Matthew Kennedy, Adam Brooks, Conor Sweeney, Jeremy Gillespie, Meredith Sweeny
Screenplay: Steven Kostanski, Jeremy Gillespie
Country: Canada
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
When I heard there was a new DVD out by Astron-6, I instantly started ranting about how cool their next ode to the golden era of VHS exploitation films would be. Not everyone in my household was as intrigued as I was, and my wife flat out refused to accept that a movie existed called Manborg. She thought I must've picked up the name from Community, so I explained the amazing sounding movie they watch in that show is Kickpuncher, but even after that whenever I said I wanted to watch Manborg she just started laughing hysterically and couldn't believe it was real. Despite giving her the biggest laugh she's had all year, for some reason she didn't want to actually watch Manborg so once again I was left to my own devices when indulging my eyes in awesomeness.

The film opens during the greatest war of all time, the war between mankind and the armies of Hell, which are lead by Count Draculon. One man attempts to stand up to the Count, but he's easily slain. In true Robocop style he gets rebuilt and awakens as Manborg, not quite a man, not quite a cyborg. Manborg teams up with a guy who looks like a Mortal Kombat character, someone who appears to have escaped from the Dead End Drive-In and a woman that wields blades better than a half vampire ever could. Together the team slice, shoot, kung fu and…manborg their way towards the evil Count. Manborg finishes up at about 63 minutes, and then, to recreate the feel of watching a movie on VHS, there's a "trailer" for Bio-Cop and a funny copyright warning.

The way the movie's presented is an ode to VHS viewing, but so is Manborg itself, a yearning for the days when going to the video store ensured seeing lots of garish artwork that practically forced me to hire the tape and then I'd watch the movie only to find out it was utter shit. Thankfully, Astron-6 have cleverly paid homage to the over the top video artwork, but decided to bypass homaging the shitty film side of things and made a good satire of those awful films instead.

That's because Astron-6 really know what they're doing, and have firmly proven they're masters at these enjoyable throwbacks. This one isn't as obscene as Father's Day, and doesn't have any nudity, but it's still got plenty of excessive violence. In fact, the movie is like one big ball of excess, to the point where there's a bit of sensory overload. Almost every frame has some sort of effect in it, whether it's green/blue screen, stop motion, CG or practical make ups, so Manborg is a massive achievement. While some of his minions are less convincing, Count Draculon looks pretty good, and even the worst effect just further enhances the low-fi feel and appeal of Manborg. Most of the FX are solid, and when the budget is taken into consideration all of the FX become impressive, let alone the sheer quantity of them.

Surprisingly, given the serious nature of its content, Manborg is utter, utter silliness from start to finish, but goddamn does it have some funny gags. The character #1 Man consistently cracked me up from the moment he appeared and said his name was #1 Man via some wonderfully exaggerated dubbing that recalls virtually every chop socky released for an English speaking audience. He's the character that I mentioned was modelled off Mortal Kombat, but the knife woman also seems to have stepped out of a video game, and perhaps in a nod to the differences between Ken and Ryu in Street Fighter she doesn't seem to be from the same country as her brother. It's probably worth mentioning that while Astron-6 perennial Conor Sweeney isn't as good a mimic of Australian pronunciations as, say, Liev Schreiber in Mental, he does have a fair go at it in Manborg. I admit I'm not originally from here so may not be the best judge, and his accent did fluctuate a bit, but it wasn't painful to listen to like, say, Quentin Tarantino in Django Unchained.

Django is one movie I didn't catch a reference to in Manborg, but it has plenty of influences. It's kind of like a twisted version of Robocop meets Tron meets Robot Holocaust meets Dracula meets Blade Runner meets Cyborg meets Hellraiser meets Lord of the Rings meets the budget of an expensive dental visit. A collision of a vast catalogue of allusions, Manborg is a nonstop bout of insanity that makes Eraserhead look like some boring movie about a guy with a dumb haircut.
The Disc
Manborg is never going to look pretty, and probably never should as it's aiming for a VHS vibe. It's a bit hazy and the green screen gives the image a somewhat unstable look, but it's a clean print. The audio is a 2.0 track where all the dialogue and sounds are clear and the only flaws seem to be intentional ones. The DVD comes with the shorts Bio-Cop (which also appears as part of the feature) and Fantasy Beyond; about six minutes of deleted and alternate scenes, mostly still set to a green screen, that contain a few bloopers and some funny stuff that didn't make the film; a making of; bloopers; a music video; a short visual FX featurette that shows the FX process; the trailer; interviews and a commentary track. The making of is nearly 20 minutes long and made up of raw set footage. It's occasionally amusing, but I'm not fond of this style for this sort of feature, and prefer some wraparound stuff to keep me interested. The interviews are a much better feature, and involve a lot of the people that participated in the film. The idea is that they're appearing on a fake chat show, and while some of the segments are more entertaining than others they're all worth a look. Director Steven Kostanski is absent, but that's probably because he was busy recording two commentary tracks. The commentary is with Kostanski, star/FX artist/writer Jeremy Gillespie and producer Peter Kuplowsky. This is an engaging track that's a must listen for would-be filmmakers, outlining lots of things that go on in the independent movie making process. Kostanski did record a second commentary track, but it does not appear on this DVD.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Manborg eventually caves a bit under its own weight, but it never gets dull and is definitely recommended for fans of the trashy video releases of the 80s. The local DVD would be fantastic if it had all the features of the US release, but by not including the second commentary or the Q&A it means yet again Australians are left choosing between supporting a local company or getting a more complete package.
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