Friday Fisticuffs: Mirageman (2007)

I’m not sure if I tried to watch Mirageman before or not. I think I’m getting it confused with another movie from another country about a dude deciding to become a superhero. But, then my pal Jesse told me it was awesome, so I had to give it a shot. I had it in my stagnant Netflix DVD queue (we’ve had Super 8 for almost a month, I’m embarrassed to say) for a while, but then it popped up on Instant and I moved it to the top of that queue. Gotta say, I’m glad I did because it’s a very interesting, if completely uneven, film.

Like I said, it’s about a guy who decides to become a crimefighter. This guy happens to be a real ass-kicker who trains himself in the martial arts on a regular basis whose parents were murdered and little brother raped by a gang of attackers. It’s pretty heavy stuff for a movie about a guy dressing up and fighting criminals. But, it does give the character–who goes by Mirageman as an alter ego–an emotional center and reason to not only train himself (he doesn’t want it to happen again) but also to dress up and protect people (it inspires his now disturbed little brother).

The first twenty minutes or so are pretty serious. The material is serious, the character is serious and even the drawings shown in between scenes are serious. It even looks like something shot for Cops. Then there’s a tonal shift that viewers should get used to when Mirageman tries on different costume possibilities. This is probably the best version of that kind of scene I’ve ever seen in a superhero movie, it’s just great, but then we’re back to the serious stuff sort of. I mean, the dude looks silly running around in broad daylight wearing a bright blue costume, but since he takes it seriously and the criminals eventually start taking him seriously as his fame grows, it seems less silly.

And then, you get this weird sequence of scenes cutting between Mirageman jumping around rooftops and doing martial arts moves on a black background. This scene does not have a point and looks like something out of that 70s live action Spider-Man TV show (if it had legit fighters). After that, more seriousness, but towards the end there’s an entire fight sequence that not only really lays on the blue tint (distractingly so at times) but also the 70s soundtrack. It’s pretty serious for the rest of the movie as he takes on a gang that, I think, is made up of kiddie touchers.

So, how are the action scenes? Awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Spanish martial arts flick, but it reminded me of the Thai one because it always looks like dudes are really getting their asses kicked. The way the film is set up is interesting too because it’s not like a traditional action film where the good guy is directly opposed to a bad guy. It really is solely focused on Mirageman and his exploits in a realistic way. He either sees a problem or is made aware of one and he does his best to solve it. He succeeds sometimes and fails others, but the stakes are always raised and he, in turn, responds to them by upgrading his style or accoutrements. But, because of the format, you don’t necesarrily get the kind of big set piece fights that we all love so much. That’s okay, though, it works for the film which takes a very real world approach to the whole thing.

At the end of the day, this feels like two movies smashed together, like two different writers, directors or editors decided to combine two different movies about the same character. One went very real world and grounded with his movie and the other wanted to make an homage to 70s vigilante flicks. I have to say, I’m more interested in the latter, but I still liked the finished product. If you’ve got some time to actually sit down and watch a movie, give it a watch. I didn’t mention that it’s in Spanish, but it is, so you’ll have to read the flick, but to be honest, if you’ve seen enough action or comic book movies, you’ll get the gist from looking up every now and then. That’s what I did.

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