From its opening text crawl, which brings us up to speed on the Hell Wars (in which the armies of Earth fell against the Demonic-Nazi-Cyborg armies of Hell), it’s clear that Manborg is going to be utterly batshit insane.
Following his death as a human in the last days of The Hell Wars, our otherwise unnamed hero awakens as a cyborg named Manborg in a future of green-screened backdrops, badly dubbed heroes, and coenobite inspired demons.
Manborg is quickly united with a group of freedom fighters; Martial Arts expert Number One Man, Billy Idol inspired cartoonishly stupid gunslinger Justice, and Justice’s purple-haired warpaint-clad sister Mina, and the movie is in truth theirs as much as it’s his; despite the single-character title, this is an ensemble piece.
The movie looks, and even sounds, like an insane Manga, brought to life through the medium of a 90’s video game; in fact, with its cyborgs, martial arts stereotypes, rubber faced demons, and even stop motion giants, the film looks exactly like it’s set in the Mortal Kombat universe.
Almost every shot is composited; at very least the actors are obviously green-screened onto the backdrop, and in many cases even the backdrop itself comprises multiple components, from miniatures and stop-motion, to digital renders. Although it’s likely this approach was born from budgetary constraints, it’s been utilised brilliantly, and gives the movie a uniquely stylised look.
At just an hour long, I feel that Manborg is the perfect length; the filmmakers made absolutely the right choice; rather than kill time with an half hour of filler just to get up to feature length, they’ve kept every second of screen time frantic; something which helps gloss over what would traditionally be seen as the films many flaws, by never really giving you time to care about them.
It’s not often that a film can set out to be a good bad-movie and succeed; and while Manborg is at times a little too self aware, it’s so much damn fun that it really doesn’t matter; even the film’s ridiculously open ending manages to be amusing rather than frustrating.
Make sure and stick around after the movie for brilliant short-film / fake trailer “Bio-Cop” and an hilarious copyright notice.
My name is Number One Man; the only way we’ll make it out of this alive is if we work together.