We all know the curse of the sequel, usually the film is nowhere near as good as the original. Sometimes it exceeds the first film, however it isn’t that often we find a sequel that has a completely different tone from the first. Well with these two films that’s exactly what you get. A superior sequel with a more mature tone, and MUCH better acting.
These two films are based on material originally from Japan. A manga and anime series created by Yoshiki Takaya, titled “Bio-Boosted Armor Guyver”laid down the path for the live-action adaptations. I’m rarely happy with live action adaptations of Manga and Anime, yet here I am with “Guyver” and its Sequel “Dark Hero”.
The Guyver (1991)
Director: Screaming Mad Geroge and Steven Wang
- Jack Armstrong as Sean Barker/The Guyver
- Mark Hamill as Max Reed
- Vivian Wu as Mizki Segawa
- David Gale as Fulton Balcus
- Michael Berryman as Lisker
- Jimmie Walker as M.C. Striker
- Peter Spellos as Ramsey
- Spice Williams-Crosby as Weber
- Willard E. Pugh as Col. Castle
- Jeffrey Combs as Dr. East
- David Wells as Dr. Gordon
- Linnea Quigley as Scream Queen
- Greg Paik as Dr. Tetsu Segawa
The Guyver has horror elements that tie directly into the sci-fi aspect of the film, yet it comes off as more campy than an action/sci-fi/horror flick. Its a solid story and a decent cast, but combined they weren’t really able to give it much more than a campy vibe. I mean this flick had Mark Hamill in it, LUKE freaking SKYWALKER. I digress.
The Guyver begins with the theft of a device from a secretive corporation called Kronos. The device is a unique item as it is the only one that exists on Earth. Kronos is willing to kill to get it back, and they do. Well the thief hides the device away before Kronos’ goons, called Zoanoids, can find it. The thief, who happens to be one of Krono’s scientists is killed and the original case found.
Skip to our hero, Sean Barker; a martial arts student. He finds the device hidden in a lunchbox. He takes it and goes about his way. Soon Sean is attacked by a group of thugs and falls hitting his head on the device. This activates the device and Sean is covered in an armor. He fights the thugs, realizing he is faster and stronger.
As things go with these films, Kronos finds out about the “Guyver Unit” and sends their Zoanoids out to retrieve it, by any means necessary. Chaos and carnage ensue. Let’s not forget about the campy dialogue though. As a side note I also want to point out that Jeffrey Combs and David Gale reunite in this film, since appearing in “Re-Animator” together. The fun tidbit is that Jeffrey Combs is called “Herbert West” in “Re-Animator”, while in this film he is named “Dr. East”.
It has some gore, great creatures (even if the transformations are just meh) and elements of horror, making it a trifecta for what I like. Dialogue is sometimes weird and delivered over the top (especially M.C. Striker), but overall is a fun watch.
Guyver: Dark Hero (1994)
Director: Steve Wang
- David Hayter as Sean Barker
- Kathy Christopherson as Cori Edwards
- Bruno Patrick as Arlen Crane (credited as Bruno Gianotta)
- Christopher Michael as Commander Atkins
- Stuart Weiss as Dr. Marcus Edwards
- Billie Lee as Mizky Segawa
- Alisa Merline as Brandi Harris
- Kristen Calkins as Lois
- Jim O’Donoghoe as Mr. Gouo
- J. D. Smith as Doug Kerlew
- Wes Deitrick as Gus Volker
- Stephen Oprychal as Bob
- Koichi Sakamoto as Sakai
- Butch Portillo as Bo
- Christopher J. Bradshaw as Grau
- Vern Roguen as Mazzo
- Russ Kingston as Impatient Hick
- Nathan Long as Cop #1
- Lisa Hannan as Cop #2
- Shaun T. Benjamin as D.C.
Dark Hero is the followup to the 1991 film “Guyver”. As far as sequels go, this one blows the original out of the water on every level. The Guyver suit is much better made, the Zoanoids are are better built and even the transformations are fantastic (for a B-Movie sequel from the 90s). You even get a little tidbit here. David Hayter, who took the role of Sean in this film, is the voice of Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid games (Seriously check out his IMDB, he has a lot of outstanding credits).
Everything that was wrong in the first film has been fixed. The campy feel is gone, leaving a much more mature tone. The script alone shows that this is a movie taking the source material very seriously. Personally I feel that if the first film had this tone, we would have had an amazing run with these films.
Without explaining any of the ending of the first film, we will get right to this one. Its a year after the events of the first film and Sean is using the Guyver suit to be a vigilante. He is plagued by visions that are almost nightmarish. He turns on the TV one day to see a report about a “werewolf attack” in Utah. They show some cave paintings that are eerily similar to what he has been seeing in his visions. Sean packs up and hits the road.
He eventually finds the excavation site where these cave paintings are and joins the team of archeologists that are working on the site. The mystery grows as there is “bear attack” while Sean is there. He goes to check it out and finds a Zoanoid. They fight and the Zoanoid escapes.
As the movie continues, the mystery deepens and unfolds. Unexpected players join the fray and shit just gets serious. That is as far into things as I am willing to get with each film. I don’t want to ruin either of them for you as they are both worth the time watching them.
Guyver: Dark Hero, is the superior offering of the two films in every way. It has a solid story, a much more mature tone, and the source material seems to have been shown real love. Switching in David Hayter in place of Jack Armstrong was a good call. Jack was great for the film he made, but David brought a while other feel and intensity to a character that is haunted by what has happened and is still happening to him.
The effects are phenomenal compared to the original, the horror elements are stronger as well as the sci-fi. The action is on point as the choreography was leaps and bounds above the first. The script was solid, the acting was much better by all involved. If I were to give this film a negative it would be that it could have been longer for me.