Runtime: 63 mins
Plot: A soldier, brought back to life as a cyborg, fights alongside a band of adventurers against demon hordes in a dystopian future.
Review: Despite hearing nothing but great things for Manborg, it still took me almost two years to get around to watching it, solely because the one recurring thing I kept reading about it is that it was just like a classic Troma movie, and I know this is a very unpopular opinion among my B-Movie peers, but I actually hate Troma movies. I don't find them entertaining at all and the only ones I've even been able to sit all the way through were the first three Toxic Avenger movies (only the first of which I liked in any capacity) and the first Class of Nuke 'Em High. Luckily Manborg retains the micro-budget goofy charm that Troma is known for (and the one aspect of them that I enjoy) but steers clear of the over-abundance of inappropriateness and Troma's penchant for going out of its way to push people's buttons that I hate about those kinds of movies. I'm sorry, but I just don't find raping a blind woman and shooting her dog, having an overly-obese homeless man give blowjobs to buy a donuts, or people farting out geysers of blood all that funny.
But like I said, Manborg stays fairly well within the limits of what I find enjoyable, while taking it's measly $1000 budget and going straight to Fun Town with it.
The movie opens on demonic soldiers of Hell waging war on Earth and our hero standing up to their General, Count Draculon, before being killed on the battlefield. Next thing he knows, he's waking up several years in the future to a changed world, one that is now a post-apocalyptic dystoptian world where Hell reigns supreme and the human race is used as slaves and entertainment in the gladiatorial Arena located in the heart of Mega-Death City. Oh, and the world is not all that is changed as he himself is now half-robot. The movie follows him around as he tries to find answers to his new existence, while also helping in a small band of rebels' retaliation against the Demonic Empire.
Despite the movie being titled after the campy half-robot lead character, the trio of quirky individuals that make up the ragtag group of rebels he joins have equal amounts of screen time as he does, and are just as significant to the plot. We have the shirtless over-dubbed martial arts expert, the sleeveless jean jacket-wearing big-mouthed tough guy with a thick Australian accent, and then his equally-as-tough blade-wielding hot sister, whom of which Baron, the main lead usually-threatening Demon in charge of the prison facility, falls head over heels in love with and hilariously acts like an anxiety-ridden lovesick teenager when around her, which makes up the bulk of my personal favorite scenes in this movie.
Together, all these characters feel like they were created off of scrapped designs of rejects from the early Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter games, and I love that about them. Each have their own personal fighting style, be it martial arts, bladed weapons, or guns, and each have their own distinct memorable personality and wardrobe design (or lack there-of in one case, hahaha). Hell, while Manborg may be the title character and the thread that ties everyone else together during the movie, I actually found these three the more entertaining characters in the movie and could watch a spin-off featuring just them anytime.
Manborg has everything that Z-Grade Movie Lovers could possibly want - Insane wacky plot that is beyond silly when reading about it but somehow manages to fit perfectly and actually make sense while watching the movie, terribly-integrated ADR reminiscent of a badly dubbed 1970's Kung Fu movie that somehow adds to the character's personalty instead of being distracting, a pulsing1980s sci-fi synthesizer score, and cheesy green-screen background and special effects that would be right at home in an early 1990's Wing Commander video game cut scene. And while those things may not be everyone's cup of tea, it does pretty much make the movie above being reviewed because all of those shortcomings that I would usually take points off for, are all done on purpose, with the intent to deliver a low budget cheesy, campy, Z-Grade sci-fi/comedy that acts as a homage to the 1980's low budget sci-fi rip-off movies of old, so how can you rightfully dock points when all of those things are done on purpose? And when they all add to a far more enjoyable experience than playing it straight would have been? Easy - you don't. Because at the end of the day my reviews are based more off the level of enjoyability then anything else and this, my friends, is one hell of an enjoyable flick.
In addition to those awesomely-bad aspects, the movie does surprisingly include genuinely good monster effects and prosthetic Demon masks that show a level of talent far above the $1000 price tag put on the budget of this movie. Sure, the giant monster beasties may look like something from the first couple of Doom videogames if made in the early 1990's on an Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn budget, but that's still fairly impressive considering this movie's budget.
Whenever you're hankering for a throwback to classic 1980s Z-Grade Sci-Fi movies in the vein of Troma but don't want to deal with all the inappropriateness and uncomfortableness that comes with a Troma movie, you really can't go wrong here as this movie has everything you could possibly want from such a thing. If you were to create a character from a mix of RoboCop and the Terminator, give him friends that are rejects from Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter, and plant them down in a universe that was created from combining Blade Runner, Doom 2: Hell on Earth, and Mad Max, and give the formula a budget lower than that of even the average Troma or Full Moon production, the end result would be the mountain of hot flowing cheese that is Manborg.
My only complaint is that the movie is only an hour long, which barely even qualifies as a movie. Hell, there are episodes of Masters of Horror (and pretty much any show that airs on HBO) that are longer then this movie. Of course though that complaint fully comes from the fact that I loved this ride so much that I wanted there to be more. Hopefully one day down the line we'll get a Manborg 2 that will satisfy that craving for more fun-filled Manborg adventuring! For only a thousand dollars to make, even if the director doesn't want to fund a Manborg 2 out of his own pocket, I'm sure he could take it to Kickstarter and receive the funds he needs, plus more, in record time. I know such a thing would certainly receive money from my bank account pretty quickly!
Oh, and remember folks - The power of the human spirit will never be obsolete!
10/10 rooms in the Psych Ward