Mandrill Blu-ray Review: Chile’s Contribution to the Neo-Grindhouse Genre

Americans aren’t the only ones who can make modern grindhouse movies. Our cousins in Chile evidently took a cue from Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s more recent endeavors and created this campy action flick that obviously is paying its respect to classic European crime dramas (and the Grand Theft Auto video game series, as one might note upon viewing the movie’s choice of font for its credits), with the extremely agile Marko Zaror cast in the lead. Unfortunately, writer/producer/director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza’s Mandrill doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessors, and instead just comes off as something of a mess.

When he was a young boy, Antonio Espinoza witnessed the murder of his parents by a gangster. The boy grows up to idolize his deceased movie-star father (who was cast in a series of campy Euro flicks) and learning how to woo the women from his uncle, who raises him. As an adult, Antonio (Zaror) uses the alias “Mandrill,” and works as an assassin for hire — always keeping an eye and ear out for the man who slew his parents. Pretty standard stuff no matter what country it’s from — not too mention eerily reminiscent of Luc Besson’s later Colombiana — though Mandrill (wisely) does not take itself as seriously as the latter film.

Apart from a groovy soundtrack and some impressive stunt work by the Chilean-born Zaror himself, Mandrill doesn’t have much going for it. Magnolia Home Entertainment gives the would-be cult film a better-than-it-probably-deserves presentation, with your choice of the original Chilean audio or a horrendous English dub (really, whatever happened to the great voice actors of yesteryear?). Two behind-the-scenes featurettes accompany the main movie, and there’s a trailer tacked on this release as well.

Skip it.

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Luigi Bastardo

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