Similar to Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl, Kung Fury or Machine Girl Manborg is a deliberately tacky low budget film. Unlike these three though Manborg doesn’t have anything much to raise it above the poor acting, cringe inducing dialogue and terrible effects.
I appreciate that some of these defects are probably a deliberate style choice but they are so bad that they often dominate the experience. The film definitely has a 1980’s home video feel to it which I assume is a deliberate homage to films of that period and can be a nice touch. However a film like this one needs to have some element that distracts you from the shoddy nature of the rest of the film. You have to come away saying x & y about that film were rubbish but wasn’t y amazing/funny/interesting. For example you could say about Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl “The monster effects looked like something made by school kids looking for something to do with leftover spaghetti and sauce but the bit where she screws her own legs to the top of her head and spins them to fly like a helicopter had me crying with laughter.”
The basic premise of Manborg is prefect for this kind of exploitative low budget action movie. Basically a mad scientist accidentally opens a portal to Hell and demons come out to enslave mankind. Mankind fights back and loses, becoming enslaved by the demons. One man, killed in the war against Hell is brought back to life as the cybernetically enhanced Manborg to exact bloody vengeance on the demonic hordes.
There’s plenty of potential here for action, explosions, gore, witty nods to other sci-fi and horror films, and all the other things you’d expect from a low budget sci-fi-comedy-horror-action flick. Indeed all these things are done. Manborg is so reminiscent of RoboCop that I wouldn’t be surprised if his lawyers got in touch. There’s plenty of gore and violence throughout. And the new world in which Manborg finds himself is like Bladerunner on a shoestring.
Unfortunately all of these things are more or less lost in the very obtrusive green screen effects. What should be satisfying fight scenes disappear into unintelligible blurs, presumably because of problems integrating the action with the background. The only times that the action can be satisfactorily followed are when the characters are moving very slowly in obviously choreographed and very fake looking scenes. Similarly what should be satisfyingly gory kills have a much reduced impact because of their very obvious fakeness.
In almost every scene it seems that 90% of each frame that isn’t occupied by one of the main cast has been added in post-production. This is confirmed by the DVD extras which show many shots of the main characters running around in a building draped with green and blue cloths. Often many different elements are added to the same frame in post-production and the edges and differences in lighting are painfully obvious and distracting. For a few blessed moments towards the end of the film our hero finds himself in what appears to be a mostly real set and the relief on the eyes is palpable. Alas of course he is soon hoverbiking it back to the eyewatering special effects laden world to fight non-existent demons again.
At the end of the DVD is a trailer for the fake movie “Bio-Cop“. If you think you might like Manborg then I suggest you skip the movie and watch this trailer instead. It is much better made than the movie it follows and is more entertaining despite being only about 5% as long.