The best thing about HK: Forbidden Hero, other than the fact that it’s one of the most entertaining films of 2013, is the joy of having to explain its premise to people, witness their flabbergasted stare and assure them that “it’s really, really good”. Actually, it is really good because its parody comes from a place of love for its source influences. Adapted from the popular manga, HK follows an awkward young man, a practitioner of martial arts, who dreams about being more assertive, more debonair and, let’s admit it, cooler than he really is. When the woman he secretly loves is in jeopardy, he by inadvertently placing a woman’s undergarments on his face, he transforms into Hentai Kamen, literally The Masked Pervert, and is imbued with superpowers born of the brimming righteousness of his cop father and unbridled libido of his dominatrix mother. Hentai Kamen fights for love and justice, but most of all, he fights for sexual perversion.
The genius of HK is its use of superhero and manga conventions, for example, the special moves often found in shonen manga, and applies them with the character’s sexual frame of mind, producing some of the most hilarious genitalia-centric special moves in existence. The other influences are obvious: Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films in the city scenes; also the use of a voice-over for the main character since his mouth is obscured; or manga’s use of successive villains with increasingly elaborate powers to thwart our hero; a main villain bent on crushing our hero; and a final battle where the stakes are high and the moves more and more elaborate. Not for everyone, HK’s warped sexual penchants will appeal to those nostalgic for comics and manga and perversion in their hearts.
HK: Forbidden Hero is a brilliant parody of the superhero genre. It’s relentlessly funny, light, endearing and grossing. Time will tell if its subject matter (and its comedy) age well and if its creative punch holds out on repeat viewing.