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Blu-ray Review: Mutronics – Film Review

Mutronics

USA, Japan: 1991
Original Title: The Guyver
Director: Steve Wang, Screaming Mad George
Screenplay: Jon Purdy
Actors: Jack Armstrong, Vivian Wu, Mark Hamill
Publisher: The Smoking Cat
Duration: 1h32
Genre: Fantasy
Cinema release date: June 3, 1992
Blu-ray release date: April 15, 2022

Los Angeles, 1990s – A young man, Sean Barker, accidentally discovers a strange device, the Guyver. This artifact can transform into armor, granting whoever possesses it considerable powers. The Guyver is actively sought after by the Zoanoids, warlike aliens. With the help of Mizuki, his girlfriend, and Max Reed, a CIA agent, Barker will have to face the Zoanoids…

Introduction

The Smoking Cat and the Movies You’ll Never See on Netflix – Wave 1

The explosion of netflix and a few other SVOD services in France has, in the space of just a few years, considerably weakened the physical video sector on DVD and Blu-ray. Today, video publishers have to resort to different tricks in order to keep consumers in their fold. That said, thanks to an increased presence on social networks, a plethora of collector’s editions and “beautiful objects” in the form of luxurious boxes, The smoking cat has gradually managed to make its hole in the ass heart of French film lovers, and to become one of the most essential players in its sector of activity.

However, it is not because we have established ourselves as the undisputed leader that we should rest on our laurels, and even take risks, The smoking cat has just innovated again, launching a new series of exploitation films in Blu-ray format last month. Perhaps considered a little more “obscure” than the other films available in the publisher’s catalog, the first five titles of this parallel series are good big rarities from the 70s/80s/90s, perhaps not making not one of the most famous and prestigious, but having delighted the skimmers of video clubs at the height of the triumphant VHS. Offered at low prices and in standard boxes, these five films benefit from the experience – now unanimously recognized – of smoking cat in terms of editorial care, and in fact offer absolutely unexpected Blu-ray editions.

The five rarities proposed by The smoking cat within this first wave are:

Draguse or the Infernal Manor –Patrice Rhomm, 1976

Wild Dawn (Savage Dawn) – Simon Nuchtern, 1985

The Cursed Breath (Demon Wind) – Charles Philip Moore, 1990

Mutronics (The Guyver) – Screaming Mad George & Steve Wang, 1991

Red Mob (Chtoby vyzhit) – Vsevolod Plotkin, 1992

If you may not have rented them all in the 80s/90s, these films, you know them all the same, by name or reputation – you have probably read articles about them in MadMovies or in Impact, in the heyday of Jean-Pierre Putters. We hope that this trial run will find its audience, and will be able to attract lovers of vintage deviant bands in France in the same way as in the United States. It’s been a while since the market has evolved in this direction in the United States, a country where all the blessed nanars of the VHS era, even the most improbable or the most misunderstood, are born in High-Definition. A good deal for filmmakers such as Fred Olen Ray, David DeCoteau, Jim Wynorski, Andy Sidaris, Rick Sloane, Kevin Tenney, Douglas Hickox or Albert Band, despised yesterday, today largely back on the front of the stage…

If we are far, very far, from being at the same point in France, The smoking cat has nevertheless made the choice with this wave to turn to the past, even if it means unearthing small films that we would never have thought to see land in France a few years ago. In the 80’s, the credo of the editions Rene Chateau was to give us the opportunity to discover “the films you will never see on television”. Posing in the continuity of the historical publisher, The smoking cat today seems determined to offer consumers “the movies you will never see on Netflix”.

The film

[3,5/5]

At the start of the 1990s, all eyes were on Asia, and in particular on Japan – following the telluric shock caused by the discovery ofAkira (Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 1988), it was the time when the public discovered manga and Japanese animation, and Americans began to take a close interest in certain big hits from the land of the rising sun. Among these there is Bio-Booster Armor Guyvera manga created by Toshiki Takaya that has already been adapted into an OVA titled Guyver: Out of Control (Hiroshi Watanabe, 1986) and a 12-episode anime series (1989-1992), based on the first four volumes.

The Guyver is therefore an American film, produced by Brian Yuzna in collaboration with the Japanese of Shochiku Movies. We will not offend you by introducing you here Brian Yuzna, absolute genius of the Cinematographic Art about whom we have already spoken to you extensively in various articles. Curious by nature, Yuzna undoubtedly saw the crazy potential of the manga, and the film really carries, visually at least, what one could call the “Yuzna touch”. This is all the more clear since the film is co-directed by Steve Wang but above all by Screaming Mad George – in the early 90s, the name of this special effects creator was simply inseparable from that of Brian Yuzna, since it it is he who would take care of the most gerbo effects of Society (1989), Silent night, bloody night 4 (1990) and Re-Animator II (1990).

Distributed in France under the title Mutronics, the film by Steve Wang and Screaming Mad George is placed under the sign of the meeting between East and West. Taking great liberties with the original manga, this fantastic science-fiction film is indeed placed under the sign of a certain Gogol energy, quite crazy, and offers us in the end an extremely Americanized result, very far from the artwork by Toshiki Takaya. It must also be said that at the beginning of the 90s, “the” big hit with young people was Ninja Turtles, a film which in 1990 had exploded the box office with 200 million dollars in revenue and 1.2 million admissions in French cinemas. The next year, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IIit was still 79 million dollars in revenue and 800,000 admissions in France.

In the end, it’s no wonder that Brian Yuzna, Screaming Mad George and Steve Wang finally chose to play the family film card, like other largely forgotten films such as Marrtians! (Patrick Read Johnson, 1990), Dinosaurs (Brett Thompson, 1991) or even Super Mario Bros. (Annabel Jankel & Rocky Morton, 1993). Moreover, we will remind the most distracted that the scenario of Honey, I shrunk the kids was signed… Brian Yuzna and Stuart Gordon, the two dads of Re-Animator ! Mutronics therefore imposes itself in the end as a big cartoon in live action, full of stupid gags, as if it was trying to coexist in a single film an extremely violent manga and a parade of big monsters in costumes for fun. And since FM rap had also been widely popularized by Ninja Turtles (MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Spunkadelic…), Mutronics will also feature a bogus rapper à la Benny B. Yo!

However, Screaming Mad George and Brian Yuzna are also well aware of what they owe horror movie fans, and still take the side with Mutronics to deliver to the public a veritable film of “monsters”, full to the brim with grand-guignolesque physical metamorphoses and viscous and bizarre creatures, mixtures of animals and sticky (even turgid) appendages, one thinks in particular of the crest that stands on the Guyver’s head, and which still looks a lot like a penis). One of these latex monsters vaguely resembles an elephant, another a Gremlin under acid, another conjures up a big pile of shit. In the same spirit, the authors of the film will seek out David Gale and Jeffrey Combs, the two heroes of Re-Animator, in order to entrust them with two important roles. And since we were talking Mutronics as a meeting between East and West, we will add that Jeffrey Combs, best known for his role of Doctor Herbert Westhere embodies a certain Professor East. Pretty funny, right?

Released in theaters in June 1992, Mutronics was distributed at the time by Metropolitan Filmexport. As for the actors, the film also offered us to find Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker in Star Wars), Willard E. Pugh (Mayor Kuzak in Robocop 2), Michael Berryman (Pluto in The hills Have Eyes) as well as Linnea Quigley (Trash, the naked punk girl in The Return of the Living Dead).

The Blu-ray

[4,5/5]

It is therefore The smoking cat which allows us today to review Mutronics, some thirty years after discovering it in theaters or on VHS. Offered at the unbeatable price of 20 euros, the film therefore arrives in a plastic box, but benefits from a model and a graphic composition still signed Frédéric Domont. On the Blu-ray side, the master is certainly not entirely free from defects, but ensures a clean overall rendering and exemplary stability. The sharpness is precise, the level of detail high, and the colors are always natural and convincing (except of course on the effects shots which show a very clear drop in definition). On the sound side, we will be entitled to two mixes in DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 (Original VO and VF), the sound immersion is ample and dynamic. Nice technical job! It should also be noted that the lucky ones who pre-ordered the Blu-ray on the publisher’s website were also entitled to a sleeve designed by the talented Grégory Lê.

In the supplements section, in addition to the traditional trailerwe will enjoy a very interesting presentation of the film by Julien Sévéon (16 minutes). The journalist will put the film in its production context, and will essentially come back to the differences between the original manga and the film by Screaming Mad George and Steve Wang. He will also be full of praise for the work of Screaming Mad George in the field of graphic arts and special effects, and will regret the absence of a book entirely devoted to him. As we understand! To get this limited edition of 1000 copiesgo to the publisher’s website!

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