Monday, October 31, 2011

MANBORG - Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2011 at Toronto Underground Cinema


MANBORG (2011) dir. Steven Kostanski
Starring: Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy, Ludwig Lee, Conor Sweeney, Meredith Sweeney, Jeremy Gillespie

RATING (out of ****) ****

By Greg Klymkiw

The time will come when we are dominated by a One World Government. This will be no mere conspiracy theorist's idea of a New World Order. Art Bell won't be predicting this one!

In fact, the Illuminati are pussy-whupped-momma-boy-teat-sucklers compared to what waits for us just round the corner. As dramatically postulated in the latest production from the kubassa-stuffed-to-overflowing loins of the Winnipeg-spawned hit machine Astron-6, be afraid - be VERY afraid of the future.

Straight from the jaws of Hell comes Draculon (Adam Brooks), a crazed totalitarian infused with a slavering desire to inflict pain. He makes the Dictator combo-platter of Adolph Hitler (former German Chancellor), Joe Stalin (former butcher of ten million Ukrainian garlic eaters), George W. Bush (annihilator of Islam) , Stephen Harper (current Il Duce of Canada) and Michael Bay (Brain Sucker Extraordinaire) look like your kindly Granny Apple Cheeks knitting her umpteenth doily and churning butter.

As brilliantly rendered in the opening minutes of this 70-minute masterwork, you will cringe as our pitiful armies do their best in battle with the demons of Mephistopheles, but even the best of the best of the best of mankind will be no match for the foul, pus-oozing Satanic beasts.

When a brave young fighting man hits the turf and pushes up the daisies, he is mysteriously and miraculously transformed by the mad genius Dr. Scorpius (Adam "Fuck me and a month of Sundays, this guy gets around!" Brooks) into the next best thing to Jesus H. Christ Almighty (or Robocop - take your pick!).

He is, and always will be:

MANBORG!!!

Blending cutting edge technology, Frankensteinian alchemy, Einsteinian science and the mind of mankind's leanest, meanest fighting machines, Manborg (Mathhew Kennedy) has, alas, retained the heart and soul of humanity. Instead of serving Draculon and his evil henchman The Baron (Jeremy Gillespie), he joins forces with three superHUMAN heroes in the struggle to free Earth from the clutches of Hades.

This trio of badass mo-fos includes the wildly pompadoured kick-butt-Kiwi (or Aussie, or Brit, or what-the-fuck-ever-his-deliciously-delightful-accent-is) played by Conor Sweeney, a blade-o-licious platinum-tressed kick-butt, delectably-racked, red-grease-painted-faced babe (Meredith Sweeney) and a melt-in-your-mouth, magnificently buff kick-butt Asian martial artist (Ludwig Lee) dubbed into English by someone who sounds like the offscreen voice artist who dubbed all of Steve Reeves's lines into English in his numerous Italian sword and sandal epics of the 50s and 60s (in spite of the fact that Steve Reeves actually, uh, spoke English).


Needless to say, our heroes save the world. (Yeah, I just released a wet fart of a spoiler.)

The movie is replete with mega-martial-arts, chase scenes on what appear to be ATVs without wheels that fly, Tron-like arena jousts and plenty of shit that blows up real good. Oh yeah, have I mentioned yet that the movie was made for about a thousand smackers, shot on glorious DV-CAM and includes tons of in-camera and rudimentary effects that resemble early 80s community cable blue screen? No? Well, I have now and there's not one damn thing in this movie that looks awful.

In fact, it is endowed with the kind of visual splendour that can only come from filmmakers who love movies and movie-making. Special effects that LOOK like special effects, have always held a humungous soft-spot in my heart. I love knowing that I'm watching a MOVIE. I love knowing the effects are - uh, just that - effects. I love to be reminded that I am in a world that only exists up on a big screen. For me, this IS magic.

The ultimate magic in the movie comes when two babes square off for a cat fight supreme. When one of the babes morphs into a demon, all my hopes and dreams momentarily diminished. Sure, it's fine to watch a babe kick a demon's butt, but for Christ's sake, babe-on-babe action always takes precedence.

But I digress.

As rendered by Steve Kostanski, MANBORG is a fairy tale of cosmic proportions for geeks and freaks the world over. It makes perfect sense that this, and the other Astron-6 works of consummate film art come from the recesses of Winnipeg.

In addition to the asbestos-lined water pipes, an insane need to tear down heritage buildings to build parking lots when the entire city is a fucking parking lot and a bowling alley bearing the name of the late, great Billy Mosienko (who, prior to his death, would man the counter and rent you bowling shoes), the 'Peg (my own former winter city) is not only the geographical-near-centre of North America, but boasts a grand tradition of what film critic Geoff Pevere dubbed as Prairie Post-Modernism.

Filmmakers like John Paizs, Guy Maddin, Noam Gonick, Lorne Bailey and Matthew Rankin forged a path that few in the 'Peg have been able to follow as memorably (though Regina-based cousins like Brian Stockton, Brett Bell and prairie-boy-at-heart Richard Kerr HAVE, in their own demented ways). Kostanski, by the way is a brilliant effects artist and his most recent makeup design is on view in the terrific Xavier Gens sci-Fi thriller The Divide (see my Daily Film Dose review HERE)

Make way, now, for a new generation of mad geniuses from Winnipeg.

They are Astron-6. And though some from this collective of total filmmakers have temporarily (one hopes) left the world capital of napping and Salisbury House Mr. Big Nips for bigger locales, the snug blankets and Icelandic sweaters of the prairies sprouted their grand vision that are and will continue to take the world by storm.

That said, I do expect that MANBORG II will have plenty o' babes catfighting.

MANBORG screened at Toronto After Dark 2011. While it'll be available for home consumption, it demands a BIG SCREEN heapin' helpin' of its considerable hospitality. Coming to CFC: An equally laudatory review of FATHER'S DAY, another Astron-6 picture co-produced by Troma and on glorious display at TADFF2011.J




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