Marco Gutierrez (Marko Zaror) has a troubled past thanks to a terrible incident a few years ago that saw his parents murdered, himself beaten badly and his younger brother Tito (Ariel Mateluna) raped, a course of events that has Tito incarcerated in a mental hospital for the past three years, unable to speak, simply spending his time drawing. Marco would love for him to recover, but the boy appears to be a hopeless case, that is until one evening when the martial arts and fitness buff is out jogging and stumbles upon a robbery. He knocks out one of the criminals and creeps inside the house to see if there are any more: there is one just about to rape the owner, and Marco beats him senseless while wearing a blue mask he has lifted from the first crim - a star is born.
You have to admire Marko Zaror, for Chile did not have an international action celebrity before he came along and through sheer force of will, assisted by his colleague and director Ernesto Díaz Espinoza, he made a name for himself with a series of low budget efforts that caught on with the world audience. He may not have reached superstar level, but dedicated action fans were well aware of his endeavours and got a kick out of seeing him show up in various higher profile movies in supporting roles, in time-honoured "Hey, it's that guy!" tradition, and if Chilean cinema was not exactly securing a place on the map as essential viewing for cineastes thanks to him, it was not for want of trying.
Besides, being such a local production there were many quirks contained within that action flicks from other countries would have not bothered to include, whether for reasons of taste or because it had not occurred to them that this would be a good idea, often since watching them here you wondered if indeed they were. When Marco decides to become a vigilante under the name Mirageman, we see him designing his own costume and training lots, but his main target is not some fantastical supervillain, nope, what he wants to go after is a paedophile ring who have been kidnapping children in the area. This is presumably a follow-on from what happened to his brother, but there was something a little too unpleasant about it for a fantasy film.
Not that there were any science fiction powers to be seen here, and it was true to say there would be a large swathe of the audience quite happy to see child abusers getting their collective ass kicked, but it was a shade jarring to see it confronted in this genre when the rest of the move was far from averse to including jokes and even what amounted to a satire on the media. Mirageman attracts the attentions of television reporter Carol Valdivieso (María Elena Swett), understandably because she was the woman he saved from getting raped at the start (what was it with this movie and sexual assault?), but she makes it her purpose in life to create a star, a national hero, out of him. This she does by reporting on his activities every night on the news, and even securing an exclusive interview with him.
All very well, but the fact remains Mirageman is better suited to catching muggers in the streets than being a one man army taking on a whole armed gang, and the paedophiles beat him up pretty badly, almost killing him in fact, which though he survives, sends him into a fug of feeling very sorry for himself. Not least because Tito was showing signs of improvement when he idolised Marco's alter ego, and now it seems he will regress; not helping is when Carol is kidnapped, so he goes off to rescue her as expected, but the henchmen he beats up are stooges hired by the TV station and the whole thing was staged for ratings, mostly so she could take him back to her place and get his mask off, revealing his secret identity to the viewing millions. Marco does redeem himself, there was no doubt that would happen, but in the little touches quite apart from the lifts from other, Hollywood-budgeted superhero blockbusters there were hints that Espinoza was more influenced by cult effort Mystery Men. Kind of awkward, then, but Zaror was an adept fighter and its heart was in the right place. Music by Rocco (did the David Bowie track take up most of their funds?).