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Acción Mutante (Severin Films) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Acción Mutante (Severin Films) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Severin Films
    Released on: November 25th, 2022.
    Director: Álex de la Iglesia
    Cast: Antonio Resines, Álex Angulo, Ramón Barea, Santiago Segura
    Year: 1992
    Purchase From Amazon

    Acción Mutante - Movie Review:

    The feature film debut of Álex de la Iglesia, 1992’s Acción Mutante is a riotously entertaining low budget picture that mixes elements of science fiction, horror, black humor and ultra-violence, resulting in an eminently watchable slice of genre cinema.

    The story is set in the future where a group of terrorists/space pirates made up of mutants and handicapped people calling themselves Acción Mutante wage an ongoing war against anything that they deem beautiful. We learn early in the movie that they aren't especially good at what they do when they wind up killing a bodybuilder that they intended to kidnap.

    The group was founded by Ramon Yarritu (Antonio Resines), who is released from prison and picked up by his crew of henchmen. With Ramon once again a free man, it's time for the group to really put their nose to the collective grindstone. They decide to crash a fancy wedding and kidnap the bride, the lovely Patricia Orujo (Frédérique Feder), who just so happens to be the daughter of one of the wealthiest men around. With their new kidnapped victim in hand, they hop in a spaceship and split to the barren planet of Axturias where they intend to hold Patricia for ransom. What they didn't necessarily account for was the fact that Axturias is completely devoid of women and populated by some rather randy miners who would love to get their hands on the crew's prize.

    Ramon, however, has a plan of his own – with some help from a mutant cat creature, he intends to kill off his crew and keep all of the ransom money for himself. Before Ramon can execute his plan, however, their ship crashes on the planet, which leads to a strange story of revenge and violence. But is Patricia starting to fall in love with Ramon?

    Unapologetically trashy and crass, Acción Mutante isn’t necessarily Álex de la Iglesia’s best or most refined work but it is a whole lot of ridiculous fun. Produced by none other than Pedro Almodovar, the movie is surprisingly stylish, but don’t think for a second you’re in for any sort of highbrow art film, because this is exploitation all the way. The movie is gory and ridiculously violent but it’s also extremely energetic and, at times, wonderfully frantic. There’s no doubt that de la Iglesia would go on to make “better” movies and mature as a filmmaker, but this early entry in his filmography is so gleefully nutso that you can’t help but love it.

    The performers all seem to be having a blast, each one delivering enthusiastic work and creating an interesting assemblage of quirky characters to entertain us. Antonio Resines as Ramon is more of a straight man (using that term very loosely) than some of his mutant brethren but the role suits him and he’s good in the part. Frédérique Feder is beautiful (less so once her mouth is stapled shut – apparently she talks too much!) and maybe her character arc is a bit predictable but she makes the role her own and does a great job here. The rest of the supporting players are a kick as well.

    Production values are better than you might expect. While this wasn’t made with a massive budget, the costumes and the sets are effectively dingy looking, giving the movie an appropriately seedy atmosphere. The score is pretty decent and the cinematography genuinely good, giving Acción Mutante a more epic scale at times than you’d probably expect. The gore and makeup effects are a lot of fun here, as are the creature effects, and while this certainly feels like it was influenced by eighties-era Troma movie and early Peter Jackson films, Álex De La Iglesia does put his own stamp on things.

    Note that Severin has been upfront about the fact that they were not able to clear the rights for the use of the Mission Impossible theme music used in the original version of the movie and have had to use alternate music, in conjunction with the director, during a very brief scene.

    Acción Mutante – UHD Review:

    Severin Films brings Acción Mutante to UHD scanned in 4K from the original negative with HDR10. Framed at 2.35.1 widescreen and presented in HEVC / H.265 2160p, this is a really strong transfer. Picture quality is rock solid, with loads of appreciable depth and detail present while still retaining the movie’s gritty, grimy aesthetic. Colors look really, really nice and black levels are deep. Shadow detail is really good and skin tones appear nice and natural throughout. There isn’t much in the way of print damage to note, but the film’s natural graininess is retained. This transfers always appears properly filmic, showing no visible noise reduction or edge enhancement issues and showing no problems with visible compression artifacts.

    The main track on the UDH is a Spanish Dolby Atmos mix but it also includes 24-but DTS-HD options in Spanish 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 Stereo. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. The Atmos mix is quite strong, with great surround activity present throughout and clear, concise dialogue. The effects and score sound really good here as well, and there are no problems with any hiss, distortion or sibilance.

    Extra features for the movie are spread across the two discs in the set as follows:

    Disc 1: UHD

    The only extra on this disc is an audio commentary with Director Álex De La Iglesia, Writer Jorge Guerricaechevarría and Production Designers José Luis Arrizabalaga and Biaffra. They start off by noting that this is the third attempt to record a commentary after four hours of not getting things right. From there, they go over some of the pre-production work that went into getting the movie made, getting the film's producers on board with certain ideas, casting the picture, some of the particularly tricky shots that were required for the movie, making the movie without the aid of digital effects, creating the props and costumes needed for the movie, the sound design work for the movie, where a lot of the ideas for the movie came and more. Along the way we get plenty of stories from the trenches in a track that proves to be both interesting and frequently quite humorous.

    Disc 2: Blu-ray

    That same commentary is found on the included Blu-ray disc along with quite a few featurettes. The first of these is Well-Done Baloney, an interview with Director Álex De La Iglesia running eighteen minutes. Here, the filmmaker goes over some of the short films he made before this debut feature, how he came to make Acción Mutante, getting into filmmaking as a teenager, some of the people he worked with at this early stage of his career, the benefit of having a lot of pre-production time, not having a place to stay during the early days of his career and being "film homeless," the influence of comic books on his work, what Madrid was like when he made this movie, the importance of Fritz Lang's work on his career as well as pictures like Delicatessen and Freaks and the difficulties of getting financing and distribution for independent genre pictures in his homeland.

    Bad Blood Costumbrism interviews Writer Jorge Guerricaechevarría for eighteen minutes. This piece goes over how he met and got to know Álex De La Iglesia, where they came up with the idea for the movie, envisioning it as a short film and turning it into a feature, doing things for this film that hadn't really been done in Spain before, getting a great effects crew together to work on the picture, not wanting to copy mainstream genre pictures with this effort, how the state of things in Spain at the time worked their way into the movie and how they came to embrace absurdity as they made the movie.

    Actor Antonio Resines is interviewed in The F*cking Boss. Here, over fifteen minutes, he talks about his initial thoughts on the script, getting to know and coming to work with the cast and crew, the makeup he had to endure while making the movie, thoughts on his character, shooting the fight scenes, having to do voice work for the first time when he was needed to do dubbing, memories of his co-stars and how everyone did the best that they could with the somewhat limited means at their disposable.

    Some Crazy Sh*t interviews Production Designers José Luis Arrizabalaga and Biaffra. In this eighteen minute piece, the pair discusses how the project started, how they came to know and work with the director, the importance of comic books to the genesis of the film and their collaborative efforts, having to create a lot of the sets inside an old warehouse, the very ambitious nature of the production, having to get creative to overcome the occasional lack of resources and having to bring Álex De La Iglesia's very distinct vision of the future to life.

    Liters Of Blood... Wonderful! gets Special Effects Artist Raúl Romanillos in front of the camera. This eleven minute segment seems him speak about how he came to work on the effects team for the movie, the different and outdated materials that they had to work with on the shoot, what he was responsible for on the effects team, the complexities of creating the makeup for specific characters, how he feels about some of the effects work looking back on it and how wanting go as far as possible is what made working on the movie so much fun.

    Finishing up the extras is a twenty-eight minute Archival Making-Of Featurette that includes interviews with the director as well as the cast and crew, thirty-four minutes of fly-on-the-wall style Behind The Scenes Footage showing off a lot of the more effects-heavy scenes being made, a three minute music video which is pretty funny (“We could be kings, endlessly fucking!”), a two minute slideshow of storyboards, a theatrical trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

    It’s also worth pointing out that this release comes packaged with a nice embossed slipcover.

    Acción Mutante - The Final Word:

    Acción Mutante is a wildly frantic and energetic picture, one that isn’t afraid to push buttons but which never fails to entertain. The UHD/Blu-ray release from Severin Films offers up the film in an excellent presentation and with a really solid array of interesting extra features documenting its history. Great stuff.



    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Acción Mutante Blu-ray screen caps!

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    Ian Jane
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    Last edited by Ian Jane; 11-28-2022, 02:44 PM.
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