June 28, 2024


THE GUYVER (Blu-ray)
1991 / 93 min
Review by Stinky the Destroyer😼

An American-Japanese co-production, The Guyver is based on a popular manga series, made & released before most of us on this side of the pond even knew what manga was. More-or-less thrown away by its distributor, the film went straight to video, where it became a minor cult classic.

Back then, the VHS case proudly boasted Mark Hamill’s name above the title, which certainly piqued some people’s curiosity (including yours truly), since Hamill seldom had top billing in anything without Star Wars in the title. But in the time-honored tradition of duping viewers with the ol’ bait & switch, the actual star of The Guyver is a guy named Jack Armstrong, fondly remembered for absolutely nothing and possessing the charisma of a vanilla cone. Nice hair, though.

The Guyver is a supremely silly superhero film that might draw just as much inspiration from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as the original manga. A lengthy opening crawl provides most of the back story (maybe too much): The Guyver is an alien device that, when fused with its host, turns him into a lean, mean cyber-machine. It’s stolen by a scientist, who manages to stash it before being murdered by thugs from Chronos, the company he worked for. Chronos itself is actually controlled by Zoanoids - mutants disguised as humans - who plan to use the Guyver as a weapon.

Instead, it’s found by Sean (Armstrong), a martial arts student with a crush on Mizky (Vivian Wu), who happens to be the daughter of the dead scientist. If you’re asking “Where’s Hamill?”, he plays Max Reed, a CIA agent who’s been investigating Chronos and was supposed to meet Mizky’s father the night he was killed. While Hamill delivers the film’s best performance, it’s in a fairly thankless role. His character could easily be removed with only minor tweaks to the narrative.

In addition to being a lethal weapon, the Guyver makes terrific Bundt cakes.
Of course, Sean ends up melding with the Guyver at the most opportune moment…while getting his ass beaten by a gang. Now a super-fighter, he makes short work of them, as well as the Cronos henchmen who later try to kidnap Misky. These action scenes waver between impressive and extraordinarily goofy, the latter compounded by humor that’s both intentional and unintentional.

Without question, the best aspects of The Guyver are the elaborate creature effects on full display whenever Zoanoids transform into a mutants, which happens early and often. Considering the low budget, there’s a lot of imagination at work, which I suppose shouldn’t be surprising since co-directors Screaming Mad George and Steve Wang have special effects backgrounds. 

A gaggle of cult favorites pepper the cast, including David Gale as the maniacal Zoanoid leader, Jeffrey Combs as Dr. East (an amusing riff on his most famous role, Herbert West), Michael Berryman and Linnea Quigley (in a brief but funny cameo), All of them are more engaging than Armstrong and Wu, though the latter would eventually move on to better things. Conversely, Jimmy Walker is simply irritating as Striker, a Zoanoid thug, especially his embarrassing rap routines. 

The Guyver is definitely a product of its time, and if viewed in that context, it’s kind of enjoyable. There’s some nostalgic fun to be had in revisiting old video store staples, even if they might seem a lot sillier today. A few bits of jarring violence notwithstanding, this was Power Rangers before there were Power Rangers. I’m not saying one influenced the other, but the action and tone are remarkably similar.


INTERVIEW WITH PRODUCER BRIAN YUZNA - The best of the bonus features, the longtime cult producer discusses how he got started in the movie business, as well as the making of The Guyver.

THE ALTERED STATES OF SCREAMING MAD GEORGE - This hour-long feature has the co-director also discussing his career (mostly as a make-up artist). He’s nothing if not enthusiastic.

AUDIO COMMENTARY - Newly recorded by directors Steve Wang & Screaming Mad George; moderated by author Dom O’Brien.

SUIT TESTS - With commentary by directors Steve Wang & Screaming Mad George; additional commentary by Evil Ted Smith & Wyatt Reed.

OUTTAKES - With commentary by directors Steve Wang & Screaming Mad George.

GAG REEL - With commentary by directors Steve Wang & Screaming Mad George.



ENGLISH, GERMAN, SPANISH & FRENCH TRAILERS - Trailers feature the European title, Mutronics.

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