8 Man: For All Lonely Nights 1992
This movie was chosen in part with the help of my patrons over at Patreon, and you can join in too for just $1 a month to help support me and this site. I have a vague memory of the 8 Man After anime OVA from when I was younger, though I’m not entirely sure if I actually watched it, or if I was just aware of its existence. 8 Man itself is actually an character that was originally created in the 60’s in manga before becoming an anime series and a made for TV film in the late 80’s before this live action movie. It’s also said that Robocop was at least partly inspired by this character, which makes sense as 8 Man was a police officer killed in the line of duty, resurrected as half-man half-machine with his memories of his former life erased. The name itself actually refers to the seven police districts in Tokyo, so 8 Man is basically the entire 8th district all by himself. This version of the story was somewhat interesting as a proof of concept, but aside from a recognizable voice actor in the English dub, it was pretty uninspired from start to finish.
As a superhero, 8 Man has an interesting set of skills. Being a cyborg, he’s stronger and much faster than a regular person. In an early scene showing off his fighting skills, he’s able to practically disappear and reappear somewhere else because of how fast he’s moving. He also oddly enough has the ability to change his appearance. This is really only used a couple of times. First off, it’s used to change his normal appearance to a different actor so that he can have a completely different regular identity outside of the identity of the police officer that was killed. He also changes his appearance to something more cyborg looking as somewhat of a secret identity away from his private detective normal persona. And one time, for some unexplained reason, he changes his appearance to that of the woman who loved him before he was killed and is developing feelings for him once again in his new life. But one of the oddest choices for 8 Man is that his electronic brain occasionally overheats when he exerts himself too much and the only way to cool himself off is to use cooling sticks that look and act just like cigarettes.
As far as the story goes, it’s a far cry from Robocop. There is somewhat of a revenge story involving the mafia that killed 8 Man before he became 8 Man, but it’s more about the original cybernetic experiment that was the scientist’s biological son Ken. Unfortunately Ken has his original biological brain rather than an electronic brain given to 8 Man, and tends to have psychotic breaks where he kills people for whatever reasons. He also speaks with a mechanically distorted voice while 8 Man speaks with a normal voice. Not only that, but he has telekinesis for some reason that he also uses to control people to do things they don’t want to do. And on top of everything else, he seemingly has a death wish for himself. Ken should be an interesting villain, but it doesn’t seem like the movie really knows what to do with him. He’s more or less just blatantly evil, but with a random twist to it. The mafia also feels just as random with the older detective slash narrator Tanaka being more involved in the revenge plot than 8 Man himself. There are a few moments with some memory flashbacks, but there’s never really a Robocop-esque moment where 8 Man takes back his original identity.
And because of course they have to, there’s also a weak romantic subplot tacked onto everything else. Before 8 Man became 8 Man, his girlfriend was Sachiko. And for whatever reason, she ends up becoming involved with 8 Man now that he’s a private investigator and starts developing feelings for him, because of reasons. And because 8 Man is a cyborg and has an electronic brain, Ken pushes the idea that 8 Man cannot love anymore. And during the climactic battle, Ken kidnaps Sachiko and tries to force 8 Man (in his robotic fighting form) to reveal his identity as the private investigator to Sachiko. And yet 8 Man is able to not reveal his secret identity, defeat and kill Ken, and then the movie just ends. But not before a moment where Ken changes himself to look more like the original nice kid Ken.
Overall, the movie is just plain weird. It helps that there is a thread reminiscent of Robocop that helps to follow the throughline, but there’s so much extra stuff thrown in that doesn’t fully connect with each other and isn’t fully developed. There’s the mafia that seems completely hollow with no real personality to them. Sachiko who has even less personality and seems like she only has a couple lines, falls in love with 8 Man, gets kidnapped, then the movie ends without any conclusion to that relationship. The older detective Tanaka is narrating the whole story, and he really feels like he’s just the narrator, usually at the sidelines while everyone else is participating in the actual story. He gets his one moment with the mafia boss, but that’s about it. There’s also 8 Man’s old partner who teams up with him again as 8 Man but then gets killed. It’s all just a bunch of shallow events that are somewhat connected, but don’t have any depth to it. The fights were ok, but the special effects were pretty poor and the film relied too heavily on them during those fights so that they felt slow and uninteresting. It wasn’t entirely a slog fest, but it wasn’t very interesting overall. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.