DVD Review: “Supersonic Man”
Released By: VCI Entertainment
Release Date: May 25, 2010
Number of Discs: 1
Approximate Running Time: 187 Minutes
Special Features: Trailers, Second Feature War of the Robots (1978)
Suggested Price: $14.95
When an Earth scientist developing a new fuel source is kidnapped by a megalomaniac intent on world domination (is their any other kind?), the celestial guardians of the galaxy dispatch a super powered alien to rescue him and protect his daughter. Just one year after the 1978 release of the blockbuster Superman: The Movie comes this Spanish / Italian knock-off co-production. Not content to rip-off a single film, the producers also threw in some Star Wars references to confuse less scrupulous viewers. Supersonic Man seems to have bypassed US theatrical release (and also a few lawsuits) but haunted late night television for years and became an early entry in the budget VHS tape market.
The Fanboy Factor:
Supersonic Man is one of those films that you realize is never going to come close to its inspirations but it makes a great guilty pleasure anyway. An alien named Kronos seems to hibernate is his space ship until he is “returned to life” by a bald purple alien from some galactic protection tribunal and given a mission to perform. This time out he is sent to Earth to prevent a power mad villain from gaining control of the formula for a new fuel that could make him unstoppable.
Once on Earth, our hero, who is only referred to as Supersonic in the film, takes on the appearance of a human and creates a secret identity for himself as a private detective. In an interesting twist, Supersonic and his human counterpart Paul are played by two different actors. Each time Paul switches to Supersonic, by uttering the clever phrase “may the great force of the galaxies be with me” into his watch, he not only changes clothes but becomes bulkier and loses his mustache (so much for Clark Kent and his glasses)!
Supersonic posses the standard super powers of enhanced strength, speed, and invulnerability but he also seems to have some form of telekinesis and can transmutate matter. Early on he is seen lifting an obviously cardboard steam roller before making short work of a group of armed thugs. After causing all but one of the thugs’ guns to fly out of their hands with a simple gesture, Supersonic transforms the last pistol into a harmless banana! While this is an impressive superpower, it’s also the only time in the film it is used.
Representing the forces of evil is American actor Cameron “Anything for a Paycheck” Mitchell as Dr. Gulik. Mitchell’s low rent Lex Luthor spends most of his time in his control room tormenting his scientist prisoner and ordering his clunky robot around. If the robot looks suspiciously like a child’s toy, it’s probably to match the ones seen on Gulik’s monitors that are toys! Also suspicious is the fact that Mitchell and Supersonic never appear together on screen, indicating Cameron’s part was probably shot in the US at the same time the production crew filmed a few exterior shots to make this look like it takes place in the states.
For the film’s not so climatic climax, Supersonic finally locates Gulik’s base, which looks like a municipal power station, and overcomes a number of traps set to test his powers. While our hero is busy with his final obstacle, the clunky robot, Gulik decides to escape in his emergency space ship but ultimately gets blown up for his troubles. With his mission successfully completed, Supersonic is recalled by the counsel but decides to stay on Earth instead with his new squeeze, the scientist’s daughter. The final shot has a comic relief wino discovering Paul’s discarded watch and being beamed up in his place.
VCI has done an admirable job with this release considering there wasn’t a lot to work with in the first place. The picture is soft in some spots and grainy in others but this is still probably the best it has ever looked. The film was not widely released or well received, although it does seem to have spawned a limited run comic book in Spain, so no promotional material was available. In place of this we get a couple of unrelated trailers and an entire bonus feature, War of the Robots! This is a fairly typical Italian science fiction soap opera from the 70’s about a revolt staged by humanoid robots and works best as the lower half of a double bill.
The Bottom Line:
As previously noted, Supersonic Man falls into the guilty pleasures category so most viewers will either love it or hate it. At the very least, it makes Superman: The Movie look like a masterpiece by comparison!