More noise than signal

The Guyver

Republished from the show notes of my other site, Fuds on Film.

The Guyver, in its original animated form, forms part of the wave of “edgy” Japanese animation that washed over Britain post-Akira that managed to gain a cultural foothold, amongst at least the “spotty teenage geek” subculture I was doomed to at the time. For those keeping track, I have now progressed to “spotty decrepit auld geek”. That series, along with a few in retrospect equally unworthy contenders like Urotsukidōji focused on providing more of the mutant body horror and violence aspects that I suppose someone decided was the reason Akira was successful, was released on appallingly dubbed VHS to mild success here, and I presume elsewhere, enough to warrant this 1991 adaptation.

Hey! It’s Mark Hamill! In a film and not playing famous Jedi Lucas Airbender! Here he’s CIA Agent Max Reed, trying to figure out who murdered Dr. Tetsu Segawa. Spoiler warning: it was agents of the shadowy Chronos Corporation, displeased with his attempts to defect with the dangerous alien device, “The Guyver”. The goons sent to kill him fail to recover the unit, however, and it winds up in the hands of martial arts student Sean Barker (Jack Armstrong), boyfriend to Dr. Segawa’s daughter Mizki (Vivian Wu).

This device turns out to be a biomechanical power suit that implants itself into Sean, allowing him access to greatly levelled up punching and kicking ability. He’ll soon be needing that, as the Chronos Corporation send their apparently powerful elite mutant soldiers, the Zoanoids, to recapture the Guyver unit, taking Mizki as leverage. The Zonaoids, often disturbingly designed monsters in the animated series, are played here by some berks in rubber suits.

And so it goes, with Sean forced to take on the entirety of the Chronos Corporation while struggling to understand just what kind of monster he has become. This sounds almost like it could be interesting, so let me assure you that it is not.

I am, perhaps, expecting too much from a film directed by someone happy to call himself Screaming Mad George. I’ll accept that kind of frivolity from someone standing for Parliament perhaps, but not from a director hoping to capture the essence of the classic source material. I say classic. I suppose “dreadful” is a more accurate term, so I take it back, Georgey-boy (or Joji Tani, as his mother might call him) has done all that could be expected, aided by co-director Steve Wang who went on to direct the less terrible, but still terrible sequel.

There wasn’t a lot of positives to take from the animated show, to be fair, but its creature design was at least striking, and to a degree that’s happened here, but I think Masters of the Universe wore out my Power Rangers man in rubber suit tolerance for this episode and I wasn’t feeling the action sequences here at all. There’s a bit too much of a focus on slapstick comedy, which isn’t really a common element of body horror for I trust fairly obvious reasons.

While the Guyver suit is, to be fair, much better designed and executed than the poor bastards he’s fighting, there is one critical problem with it. That being the numpty inside it. How someone quite so charisma-less wound up being cast in the lead role is a mystery, and he stands out as being particularly bad in a cast that’s competing quite strongly for the position of “least good”.

Bad acting, bad action, a contrived plot, and little to no fun whatsoever. I don’t think I’ve much else to add here. This film is, and let’s be scrupulously fair here, hot garbage. Avoid.