Based on the comic books of French writer and artist Guillaume ‘Run’ Renard, ‘MFKZ’ (abbreviated from its rather less English poster-appropriate French title ‘Mutafukaz’) blends urban, gang-flavoured grime with surreal anime pizazz to uneven but attention-grabbing effect.
It’s set during a global warming-fuelled heatwave in the crime-ridden Dead Meat City, a graffiti-smothered alternative-world take on Los Angeles, where talking cats and guys with flaming skull heads pound the same, blood-spattered streets as Shakespeare-quoting gangsters and super-powered Mexican wrestlers. Here we meet our hero, Angelino, who with his large, spherical head filled mostly by a huge pair of bug eyes is a Marvin the Martian lookalike. He thinks his life is going nowhere when a bump to his skull causes him to realise tentacled aliens secretly walk among us. Then the trilby-wearing men in black come after him.
It’s co-directed by Renard and Shōjirō Nishimi (‘Batman: Gotham Knight’) with kinetic panache, but ‘MFKZ’ won’t be to everyone’s taste. It has a leering attitude to the few women it depicts, and an often callous revelry in gun violence. But these juvenile missteps are balanced by Renard’s nods to real-life concerns, such as grinding inner-city poverty and governmental neglect of the environment. And as an LSD-spiked stew of ‘Grand Theft Auto’, ‘Do the Right Thing’, ‘Akira’ and ’90s cult TV ’toon ‘Duckman’, with a dubstep soundtrack and English voice performances from the likes of Giancarlo Esposito and Michael Chiklis, it is, at least, never dull.