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Mandrill (Blu-ray Review)

It’s always great discovering “world films” that normally wouldn’t be seen by the general public unless a big studio were to import the film for stateside consumption. I’m glad that Magnolia has stepped up and not only not brought Mandrill stateside from Chile, but continues to deliver world films from all over to us. And on Blu-ray no less! Mandrill, which means “baboon” in Spanish, stars martial artist sensation Marko Zaror (Undisputed 3) as a James Bond-ish hitman who is out for revenge. Mandrill will encounter dangerous men and even more dangerous women while trying to solve the murder of his parents. Let us see if Mandrill is worth your time.

 

Film

Young Antonio was only a child when his parents were brutally murdered right before his eyes. This, along with the inspiration of one John Colt, would be the driving force behind Antonio’s one goal in life: REVENGE. Antonio has taken the codename: Mandrill and is out for vengeance by any means necessary. Along the way Mandrill (Marko Saror) will put his amazing martial arts skills to good use while shaking down the beautiful ladies for information that will lead him to his parents murderer.

This comes to a standstill when he meets and falls in love with the beautiful Dominique (Celine Reymond) who may derail his plans for revenge, because up until then, he had never met a woman quite like her before. He’s actually happy when he’s around her and forgets all of his troubles when they’re together. Well, if it’s too good to be true then it probably is, right?

I actually discovered Mandrill by accident when I was watching trailers on Youtube – the name threw me off, because it means baboon in Spanish, so I had to see what it was all about. It wasn’t the official Magnolia trailer, but one that was used for promotion in some Film Festival that played in the states a couple of years ago. Mandrill was originally filmed in 2009, so it’s not that new. After I watched the festival trailer for it I was like HOLY CRAP! What did I just see? All I had remembered was seeing a guy pulling off the famous Guile “moon kick” from the Street Fight II arcade game without a harness! That’s all it took before I knew I would be sold on the final product. I also had not realized that Zaror was the star and that I had recently seen him in Undisputed 3, which along with Undisputed 2, have some of the best martial arts fights in recent memory. He was the main bad guy in Undisputed 3.

Mandrill also benefits in that it was shot in a “mash-up” sort of way. It’s a more violent version of  James Bond with added flourishes of grindhouse and exploitation cinema. During some of Mandrill’s flashbacks we get to see that young Antonio was raised by his super suave uncle Chone (Alejandro Castillo) who teaches the lad how to be the ultimate seducer of women by teaching him la tecnica or the technique. It’s all in the reflexes. This enhances Antonio’s charms, but what about his uber fighting ability? Well, Antonio is on a steady diet of exercise and re-runs of his favorite television show: John Colt. Colt is a hilarious Chilean spin on what pretty much looks like an Austin Powers spoof. John Colt dispenses with the brutal justice and saves the multiple women in distress. If that’s not a motivator then I don’t know what is.

It’s with these skills in tow that make Mandrill one of the most sought after hitmen (aka bounty hunter) around. I should also like to say that Zaror is a tall dude. He’s at least six feet, if not more, but the speed on this cat is legendary. He can pull off these acrobatic moves standing still – I’m talking about stationary flip kicks. And once he starts moving and running, forget about it, it’s like the guy literally flies in the air. I guess it also makes sense that Zaror choreographed the fights in Mandrill, too.

I had a ball with Mandrill and give it a hearty recommendation if you’re into martial arts, hot women, grindhouse, and all those types of sub-genres. Zaror is on his way to becoming a star in America after this, in my opinion.

 

 

Video

Mandrill is presented in 1080p (2.35:1) 16X9 widescreen. I believe the film was shot in digital, but you wouldn’t know it. It’s got a grainy quality to it that goes overboard sometimes, but that’s probably due to the look that the filmmakers were trying to go for. It succeeds for the most part. Flesh tones look natural, colors are very bold. I would say that the worst looking scenes are when we shift from Mandrill’s world back to his youth and during the scenes of the John Colt show. Contrast boosts here and there with bits of slight aliasing – black levels do remain stable and hardly ever crush. It’s a very serviceable transfer.

Audio 

Mandrill is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1 and over compensates for whatever the video lacked. Shootouts are extremely three dimensional as are the brutal knock-down drag-out fights. You will feel every punch to the face as if you were getting punched in the face. Music also takes the center stage and really bumps during a memorable scene at a night club. The bass is king there. Dialogue is also clean and clear and never clips or echoes during playback. I watched Mandrill without the English subtitles and I never found myself asking what did that person just say? Smooth, Daddy-O!

Extras

Mandrill got no love in the extras department which is a shame. All we get are two short featurettes without narration showing what went on behind the scenes and one that focuses on fight choreography. The US trailer is included, as well.

 

  • Behind the Scenes
  • Anatomy of a Fight Scene
  • Trailer

 

Summary

Mandrill was a lot of fun, I highly recommend it, but the lack of special features do drop the final score quite a bit. The tech-specs are above average on this Blu-ray, so take note on that. You should also take note that Mandrill is in Spanish (there’s a lame dubbed version, as well) with English subtitles, but that should not bring down your level of enjoyment. It’s got great action, hot women, sex, and many other sub-genre adjectives. Magnolia has done a great job in getting this Blu-ray out to the masses. Kudos, yo!

 

P.S. There’s a pivotal turning point scene in Mandrill that solidifies the notion that women do like men who can dance. That’s all I will say. 😉

 

 

Order Mandrill on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

2 Responses to “Mandrill (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    I had just heard about this film. I look forward to checking it out.

  2. Brian White

    As per your excellent review, I will check this out.