When most people think of Mexican cinema, if they consider it at all, they think of Y Tu Mama Tambien and Amores Perros. Though those fine movies have gotten a lot of attention recently, they are not representative of the Mexican movie industry as a whole. Mexican film makers have been cranking out product since before WWII in many different genres: romance, dramas, horror and science fiction films have all been made in abundance south of the border. Long before Hollywood's current fascination with the genre, Mexican cinema was making many films about superheroes. (Most of these were masked wrestling stars, a genre that seems to be unique to Latin and South America.) In 1972 one of Mexico's more popular comic heroes was brought to the silver screen in Kaliman, the Incredible Man. Two years later a sequel was made, Kaliman in the Sinister World of Humanon, which was recently released by Vanguard Cinema. (Oddly enough, the first movie in the series has not yet been put out.)
Kaliman is a human who has trained his body to the peak of physical perfection. He grew up in Tibet and studied with the Lamas there and trained his mind too. He is able to hypnotize people, and read minds. Unfortunately, most of this background is not presented in the movie.
Kaliman, with his loyal young sidekick Solin, travels to scenic Rio De Janeiro to attend the Congress of Parapsychology meeting. Arriving there, he learns that one of the members of the organization has been killed, and others have disappeared. That night, while in his room, Kaliman is hypnotized by a flashing light, and ordered to go down to the street. When he gets outside he is released from the hypnotic spell, and returns to his room only to find that Solin has been captured. Though he realizes it is a trap, Kaliman goes to a graveyard and, after a big fight, rescues his ward. He zips off and tells the leader of the Congress what has happened, only to be attacked yet again. This time Kaliman can not fight off all the evil "zombie-tronics" and is knocked out. He and the rest of the characters are forced to march through the jungle to the hide out of the Humanon, a masked villain with delusions of god-hood. It turns out that the Humanon is kidnapping scientists and mutating them. With his army of zombie-tronics it looks like the Humanon is unstoppable. Will Kaliman be able to defeat this mad genius before he achieves his evil ends? (Whatever they may be. I wasn't really sure why he was doing all this, but I'm sure that he didn't have a very good reason.)
Okay, confession time: I like bad movies. I really enjoy Japanese giant monster movies, Italian sword and sandals flicks and Mexican wrestling movies. So I was pretty sure I'd like this film, and I did. The plot doesn't make much sense, and there are holes in it big enough to drive a herd of zombie-tronics through, but that's part of the charm these movies have. The acting was pretty average, and the dialog was atrocious. But again, that's part of the reason these movies are fun to watch.
The film did start off rather slow. It was a good 20 minutes before the first action scene. It picks up a bit when Solin gets kidnapped, but then it slows down again when Kaliman and Solin were wandering around the forest for a good long while. The Humanon was a really cool villain though. He has a red hood that hides his face, computers with walls full of flashing lights, and doors that open automatically and make music when they do. That's all really neat stuff! The fight scenes were not fantastic. The choreographer was trying to make Kaliman fight in a unique fashion, in a style all his own. A lot of the time it just came across as inane. In one fight he puts one forearm on top of his head, while he punches with the other fist. Let me tell you, that's one goofy looking fighting stance.
This DVD comes in a clear snapper case with a two sided cover. When you open the case you see a full color picture of Kaliman riding a horse. (This same picture is featured prominently on the back cover.) It was odd that they chose that shot, since he doesn't ride a horse in the whole movie. That screen capture must be from the first film. Unfortunately, that same level of incompetence permeates the rest of this release.
Though the back cover declares that the disc is "Surround Sound 5.1" the disc only has a two channel mono track in Spanish. The audio quality is fair, there is some background noise, but only a little. The voices sound muddled though, but that wasn't too bad for me since I was reading subtitles the whole time. Someone who speaks Spanish may find that more annoying. The audio definitely lacked a punch, even in the action scenes. There just wasn't a lot of dynamic range, with the explosions sounding about as loud as the punches.
As far as subtitles go, there are two English subtitle tracks. I was not able to see any difference between the two, and found it odd that they would duplicate the subtitles. The default setting is to have the subtitle track 1 on when the movie starts. There is no menu for audio settings or subtitles, so if you want to turn them off you'll have to use your remote. The subtitles are pretty poor. They are rife with spelling and grammatical errors, and sentences are often not translated. There are several occasions when they have put too many words on one line, and the first and last letters of the sentence get cut off. The subtitles even froze up at one point. One sentence stayed on the screen, and when other people started talking it just stayed on and the new dialog wasn't translated. Turning the subtitles off and then back on again with the remote cleared it up. The subtitles are so bad that they distract from the movie.
The video quality is actually worse than the audio. The movie
is presented in a 1.33:1 ratio. I couldn't verify what the OAR was,
but it looks as if the picture has been cropped. The image quality
itself is horrible. Something I would expect from a budget DVD producer
like Madacy. Just about every video defect I can think of is present.
The print has a lot of damage to it. Scratches, dirt, dust, and missing
frames are common occurrences throughout the film. The white levels
are too high, and details are lost. You can't see and folds in Kaliman's
white turban so it looks like he's wearing a white ball on his head.
There is significant color bleed, especially around Kaliman's cape and
Humanon's red mask. All of the colors are dull and faded, and the
whole film looks like it was shot through a cheese cloth lens. There
is even significant edge enhancement that appears as a black halo around
Kaliman's turban. I could go on and on about the various other defects,
but I think you get the picture. An absolutely horrible transfer.
This is a bare bones disc. There are not extras.
This is a fun movie to watch, but this DVD makes watching it a chore. The lack of quality that went into this production drained every ounce of entertainment out of this film. Die hard Santo fans may want to rent it if their local rental shop is having a really good sale. Otherwise Skip It.