Shin Kamen Rider: Prologue (真・仮面ライダー 序章 (プロローグ), also known as Masked Rider Shin, is a 1992 V-Cinema that came about in the period between what we now know as the Showa and Heisei eras. Technically part of the former, the V-Cinemas of Shin, ZO, and J are all stand-alone and really stand apart from both eras with their combined aesthetic.
As the 20th anniversary of the Kamen Rider franchise, Shin shares a lot of thematic elements with it’s progenitor, the original Kamen Rider series. A shadowy organisation, heavy influences of the military-industrial complex, cyborgs, grasshoppers, it’s got it all! Not only that but the version available on the Toei Tokusatsu World account is the uncut version so there’s a heaping helping of haemoglobin and some cheeky T&A so it’s got all the makings of an early 90’s B-movie monster action movie.
It’s a shame that it’s boring as sin. It’s plodding, it’s more padded than the Shin suit, and the characters are the blandest, one-note character archetypes they might as well be 2D. If you’ve seen any kind of Kamen Rider series, you know what this movie is about and if you’ve ever seen 1991’s The Guyver then you’ve seen a better movie than this and should really watch it again.
Shin Kazamatsuri is a human test subject for his father’s cancer/AIDS research and, thanks to the manipulation of the higher-ups, is secretly fitted with a bunch of bio-engineered cybernetic nonsense to turn him into a really dumb-looking karate bugman. The transformation scenes takes obvious cues from American Werewolf in London and the main antagonist is basically a Tyrant from Resident Evil with a swiss army knife for an arm.
There’s also this roach fetus because… Why not? That’s some horrifying Cronenbergian nonsense.
Technically, the film is serviceable and the effects are on-par with what you’d expect of tokusatsu of the time but it’s biggest deficit is the plot and if you’re looking for something similar, I’d say you’d have more fun watching Kamen Rider Amazons because they’re pretty similar but the latter has a better plot overall.
Oh, there’s also an Ishinomori cameo, which I found delightful.
Fellow Toei World reviewer, Alex, said that watching Shin is “an experience” and I’m certainly of that mindset right now. I definitely “experienced” this movie but I don’t think it’ll be a lasting one.
You can now find Masked Rider Shin, as well as many other tokusatsu shows, on the TOEI Tokusatsu World Official YouTube channel to watch for free with English subtitles.