Very loosely based on Yoshiki Takaya’s Japanese manga series, The Guyver tells the tale of, well, the Guyver, the ancient name given to the being that dons the Guyver armour and is transformed into an alien-hybrid super soldier.
When CIA Agent Max Reed (Mark Hamill) witnesses the murder of a Chronos Corporation researcher, Dr Segawa (Greg Joung Paik), he finds himself pulled into a world of aliens and corruption, and ends up dragging Segawa’s daughter, Mizki (Vivian Wu), and her somewhat reluctant boyfriend along with him.
Almost everything about The Guyver is ridiculous, from the premise and the plot to the characters. There is probably some alternate universe in which the ridiculousness works, but it’s not ours. Instead, it’s pretty dull, and can often feel like it’s dragging even though it’s only 93 minutes long. It tries too hard to be a weird sci-fi cult classic, but it only really succeeds when it comes to the ‘weird’ part.
However, it’s still worth watching for the visual effects. For the most part they’re extremely outdated, even for 1991, but they have somehow managed to retain all of the magic, particularly where the giant alien puppet heads are involved.
None of the puppets’ mouths move in sync with the audio, and a couple don’t move at all, but they are all easily cool enough for it not to matter too much. Directors Screaming Mad George and Steve Wang’s backgrounds in special effects and make-up are evident and glorious. The attention to detail is astonishing, from the aliens’ bloodshot eyes to their extra layers of glistening sweat that put the creatures just on the right side of grotesque.
But if puppets aren’t really your thing and you’re purely watching for Mark Hamill – whose name is splashed across the top of the home release cases, and whose face adorns most of the film’s posters – you’re going to be disappointed. He’s neither the Guyver, nor really in it that much.