Si Maryo O Si Goko (aka Mario vs. Goku) is an action-comedy film released in 1995 starring William Martinez as Maryo, a kooky old computer nerd who got called into action when Princess Maria, played by the late Isabel Granda, was captured by a three-headed monster named Gorio to be together in unholy matrimony once the full moon sets in.
That’s the whole gist of the plot and I’ll let you in on a spoiler: there is no battle between Mario from Mario Bros. and Son Goku from Dragon Ball. The movie’s title is apparently misleading as hell. This movie gained a bit of a “cult” status internationally as, believe it or not, this was released on DVD in European countries.
Let’s get on with this, shall we?
Plot/Story Progression: The plot is as straightforward as it can be and it’s easy to follow, that I can tell but there are a lot of holes when it comes to how the story progressed. Remember what I said about Pranks Not Dead’s story? Remember me saying that although there are some holes that not necessarily you can drive a truck through but enough to stick your finger in it? Mario vs Goku doesn’t only let you stick your finger into the plot holes presented to you, but the whole fist.
How did Princess Maria know about who Maryo is in the first place? How was Maryo able to discover the world of Pantasya (Fantasy)? That and more of those plot holes were never answered as the name of the game here is save the princess from the horny three-headed monster and you have to use your programming skills to do so. Nobody cares about details, it’s Philippine cinema in 1995, who cares about that? The goal is to have fun and turn your brain off.
The pacing is just fine by 1990s Philippine movie standards. I didn’t expect the movie to move past the first arc so fast, only to be brought down by unnecessary stuff in the middle of the movie. Some of the jokes, such as Dracula almost drinking tainted blood, went with the prolonged Nostalgia Critic route of running it to the ground that it no longer becomes funny. The cinematography didn’t help either as I’ll explain in the later section.
Set Design: Being an unofficial Nintendo/Shueisha crossover, you’d expect the costumes to at least resemble what they’re supposed to be. Mario at least looks like Mario. Goku, Kuririn and the Saiyans looked like the costume designer knew what Dragon Ball or Mario Bros. is.
At this point in time, the last tankoubon volume of Dragon Ball was released on August 24th of that year and Super Buu just got out of the fat Majin Buu’s body the day before that on the anime (at least in Japan, the Philippines was still stuck on the Saiyan arc, I believe). Yoshi’s Island, the prequel to Super Mario World, was released the same year as well so the audience is still familiar with how Mario looked like in Super Mario World.
This is before the cosplay boom, heck this is even before the renaissance of anime fandom, so I’d give them a pass in terms of costume accuracy but the piss poor quality of the Saiyan uniform together with the turtle minions just reeks of poor budget planning. The Bioman and Zyuranger ripoff movies have better costumes than the mooks in this movie.
What I didn’t expect are references from other Shueisha manga or manga in general as there are two characters that I would like to point attention to in this section: Doogie Howser and Princess Maria herself.
If you’ll notice on the screenshots, Doogie Howser, despite being named after the Neil Patrick Harris character, seemed to resemble more like Wang Chan from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Princess Maria, on the other hand, almost resembled the main character from Shogakukan’s Yawara when she transforms into her judo uniform. My weeb mind can be a bit playful sometimes.
Characters: The main characters in the story are the only ones you can remember as either the other side characters were either missing, never mentioned by name, or were never explained how did they get into the plot in the first place.
The street children, the eloping couple, the barangay chief, and Doogie Howser are the worst examples of what I’ve mentioned. I’d never know that the Wang Chan lookalike is named after the famous child doctor if I didn’t read the credits (that’s also how I learned that Ara Mina and Carla Abellana’s dad had roles in this movie).
In the case of the chief, the street children, and the eloping couple: The only time Maryo’s gang had any encounter with these people is when a zombie invasion happened.
Anything before that has never been explained, so their role is so minimal that director Bibs Austria could’ve just saved time and have the interaction scenes removed.
Cinematography: Either the cinematography is atrocious or the stock reel that was used to store this film was already under heavy decay that it’s beyond restoration but the scenes that were shot at night have so little lighting in it that you can’t see anything but pitch black. So much so that the close-up scenes have little to no illumination as well that you can’t make out the scene that was going on most of the time. Daytime shots made the movie like it was shot in 1982 than in 1995, so there’s that too.
One thing I found quite amusing is how Maryo’s transformation sequence into giant Maryo was executed. With the technique they used to show how Maryo turned into a giant after eating mushrooms, they could’ve instead gone with creating a miniature set or just have shot the same scene without Goryo moving into where Maryo is or have the camera tilt upwards to give the illusion that they are, in fact, giants.
Another thing that made me not suspend my disbelief into this movie is this particular cut right here. Is this something that’s supposed to be part of the whole scene or is this something else that they forgot to trim on the cutting room floor?
There does seem to be a disconnect between time and space in this shot because how did Maryo and the old witch teleport from 1995 Manila to Pantasya without the use of computer programming?
This shot and others similar to this is what made my comparison between this and the 17 minute MNL48 mini-movie in terms of plot holes.
These missteps in film editing can affect the pacing of the movie too, you know?
This is already nitpicking at this point but during the early parts of the film, the dubbing of Einstein’s voice doesn’t sync with the lip movements of William Martinez.
Having watched a lot of dubbed material made me kind of sensitive to that sort of thing, especially in terms of live action films wherein it becomes painfully obvious when the dubbing job is haphazardly done.
Speaking of audio, there is only one or two background tracks in this movie, so I don’t have anything to say about those.
Overall: Mario vs Goku is a horrible movie by 2020s cinema standards but if you turn off your skepticism while watching this film, it can be a somewhat enjoyable experience with some of its jokes, the references to the franchises they’re paying homage to if you can call it that, the campy special effects and the simple plot of saving the love interest from the antagonist. I forgot, the plot doesn’t have anything to do with the two source materials they’re borrowing elements from, so that might be a turn off for purists.
If you’re into accuracy though in terms of how the characters look or act, I’d suggest you stick to the dime-a-dozen YouTube videos (at least Mario and Goku really do beat the living crap out of each other in those videos) about the topic. Hey, at least there’s no song and dance number at the end. That trope died in the early 1990s as it should’ve.
The whole movie’s on YouTube if you want to watch it for yourself but just like with what I said on my River review, watch it at your own risk.
3 thoughts on “Si Maryo O Si Goko? The Super Mario Bros. x Dragon Ball Crossover Nobody Expected…in 1995.”
Interesting! I remember seeing this on GMA7 during their pre-noontime movie block, and it definitely stuck!
On a side note, I have a hunch that parts of this film were shot in Cubao — specifically near the old Gaisano Cubao (between Tropical Hut and the former COD Manila, now Savemore.)
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That’s something. I tried to search the computer college in the opening scene and it says it’s at Pasay.
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Oh, I see. Maybe they wanted to wrap up the scene in a nearby location, thus the choice of Pasay for the opening scene and Cubao for the final parts.