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By Eric Campos | June 25, 2008

This Chilean superhero movie is like a nice Saturday afternoon kick in the balls. It feels great.

Left orphaned after a brutal home invasion, Maco grows up to be a martial arts crazed, yolked-out club bouncer while his little brother is confined to a mental hospital thanks to the vicious attack early on in his life. During one of his evening runs, Maco stumbles upon another home invasion in progress. Eager to jump in and fight the war he’s been preparing for for most of his life, Maco dons a ski mask and trashes the bad guys, saving the life of a pretty young newscaster who then publicly praises the hero on television. Maco warms up to his new role as crimefighter and takes it upon himself to become the city’s superhero. Creating the proper superhero costume after some humorous trial and error, the self-dubbed Mirageman dives into his new gig, giving out an email address for people in distress to drop him a line if they so need his assistance. Mirageman gets mixed public reactions, but nevertheless does a bang up job of cleaning up the city until he meets his match in a super evil pedophile ring.

The bulk of this film’s charm builds from the whole “normal, pissed off guy who decides to become a superhero” tale – we get to see Maco fumble with a few bad costume ideas until he finally comes up with the right one that’s not going to make him a laughing stock. Even more amusing is watching him fumble with emergency transformation from Maco to Mirageman in an alleyway so he can go beat the beans out of a gang of purse snatchers. Peter Parker makes it look so easy, but Maco can’t even get his pants down around his tights without tripping all over himself.

And, despite the menacing blue mask and bug eye goggles, Mirageman really has no superpowers apart from the amazing martial arts skills performed by the hulking Marko Zaror who plays Maco/Mirageman…and who was also The Rock’s stunt double in “The Rundown”…fyi. Many have put him up there with Tony Jaa of “Ong Bak” fame, and I will agree that Zaror kicks much a*s and he’s a super thrilling sight to behold, but I think the overall goofy “everyman as superhero” theme, intentional and appreciated as it was, detracted from the martial arts display and in doing so, I’m not yet ready to confirm the Tony Jaa comparison. This may be a bad example, but it’s like watching Schwarzenegger kick a*s in “Kindergarten Cop,” in that it’s nothing like watching him kick a*s in “Commando” or “Total Recall.” Okay, that was a terrible example, but you see what I’m getting at. In short, I would really like to see him in a more serious, straight up a*s-kicker.

All in all, “Mirageman” is a lot of fun – goofy and a little unbelievable at times – but so were a lot of the old martial arts movies we would watch on TV during the weekend when we were kids. Can’t complain about that.

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