Guyver 2: Dark Hero (1994)

Rating: ***
Director: Steve Wang
Stunts: Alpha Stunts
Cast: David Hayter, Kathy Kristopherson, Christopher Michael

The Guyver returns in this darker, more somber, and decidedly more serious sequel. Sean Barker (David Hayter) is plagued by visions in his dreams and visits an archeological dig in Utah that's unearthing an ancient alien spacecraft (sounds a little like "Close Encounters", eh?) There's only one problem - the Zoanoids are still around even after Chronos was destroyed in the first film, and they want the ship for their own dark purposes. A great low budget actioner, with solid performances, nifty effects, great rubber monsters, and spectacular martial arts combat sequences. Steve Wang and Alpha Stunts have really done a fine job with this film, and Wang is quite possibly the only American director out there who really knows how to shoot and edit fight scenes. That Hollywood and mainstream audiences continue to ignore his work is truly a crime. A slow starter, but the last twenty minutes really pay off.

Notes on the DVD releases: The European DVD of this film is a real disappointment. Not only is it pan-and-scan, but the film is also mercilessly cut for no apparent reason other than to make it look bad. (Steve Wang's "Drive" (1997) also got the same incomprehensible and irresponsible treatment for its American release.) Fortunately, the long overdue American DVD release (8/04) leaves the film intact, except for the title, which inexplicably drops the "Dark Hero" part. While it's not as wide as the laserdisc version, the 1:85 aspect ratio looks great and still captures all of the action and cinematography.