Judge David Johnson fights crime as Massageman.
He has no superpowers—just his fists and guts.
From the makers of Kiltro (a goofy martial arts outing) comes another unorthodox round of fisticuffs. I fully expect there to be clowns and hamsters on unicycles in the next film.
Facts of the Case
There's this guy Maco (Marko Zaror) and he lives a sad, lonely existence with his emotionally damaged younger brother as his only family. But Maco has a secret: he's a shockingly good martial artist, able to show off his skills in the service of good.
When he intervenes in a robbery and saves female reporter, he's suddenly thrust into the spotlight as the city's newest vigilante: Mirageman. Seeing the positive effect his new crime-fighting persona has on his brother, Maco steps up his butt-kicking activity, taking on the most fearsome crime syndicate around: the Pedophile Network. Not making that up.
Mirageman is a schizophrenic movie, fluctuating between a clever spoof of the costumed superhero genre and a hard-as-nails, surprisingly violent beat 'em up. It's a weird confluence of tones, and ultimately harmful to the film's ability to capture an audience. Viewers looking for a tongue-in-cheek actioner will find elements of it in Mirageman, but may be put off by the stabbing and decapitations during the finale. And fans of kick-ass hard-R chopsocky may be equally confused by the jumbled feel.
However, if you adjust your expectations and prepare for a wildly see-sawing movie, I'm confident you'll find a lot to enjoy in Mirageman. While I was caught off guard by the darker stuff at the end, the run-up to that point was hugely entertaining. I really liked the subtle deconstruction of the comic hero. There are extended—almost painfully awkward—sequences of Maco opening up his backpack, taking out his costume, changing out of his street clothes into his Mirageman costume, carefully placing his street clothes into the backpack, and then leaping into action. That's something you never see Batman do. Mirageman will jump off a bridge real dramatic-like and face off with his opponent, but fall down and hurt his leg in the process. Mirageman will team up with his sidekick "Pseudo-Robin" (a hapless loser) who is immediately knocked unconscious when they take on the bad guys. These are genuinely funny moments.
As an action guy, Marko Zaror has skills. His costume may not inspire much fear and dread, but the dude knows how to shake his money-maker. What the choreography lacks in acrobatic stunts you'd see in Ong Bak (though there are a few pretty awesome aerial moves he pulls off), it makes up for in impact. It really looks like Zaror is pounding on these dudes, and he takes as good as he gives.
Magnolia's DVD is nice enough, starting with a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and a dubbed 5.1 mix (the original Spanish track is available as well). One extra: a behind-the-scenes documentary.
The movie is nuts, but I had a good time with it. Action fans looking for something different would do well to track this down.
Not Guilty. Pseudo-Robin approves.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Magnolia Pictures
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