Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Super Inframan (1975)
Due to the success of ULTRAMAN & KAMEN RIDER in Hong Kong, Shaw Brothers Studio came back with a HK phooey kaiju chop of their own, known as SUPER INFRAMAN! Literally translated from the chinese characters as Chinese Superman! I think the marketing folks wanted to name the movie as similiar to Ultraman as possible without stepping on the boundaries! This film is most certainly a fun filled mashup of colorful & evil monsters led by a pretty, but devilish lady princess with a one track mind to invade & destroy earth with the help of her radioactive goons! What stands in their ghoulish ways is a crazy scientist, his research team, & their nuclear bionic creation, a masked chinese heroine blessed with the extraordinary powers of kung fu, a thunder fist, laser beams, a fire bomb, & the ability to grow to an enormous size! For being a 1975 production, the special effects, costumes, and the Skeletor-He Man looking set design was pretty darn good in my opinion! The kung fu fighting was also first rate and flowed really well, thanks to the fighting choreography of the great Tang Chia! If you have ever seen a power ranger episode then you’ll have a decent idea of what to expect with this film! Super Inframan is eons better with a more twisted looking monster cast, crazy FX, cooler costumes, & more fighting! Some of these outrageous monster characters included the mutant drill, fire dragon, plant monster, the crabman that turns into a gi-normous version at will, and the skeletor mount devil soldiers! The evil princess & her henchwoman, the sexy witch eye had costumes that looked like Madonna might have copped’ for one of her world tours with her torpedo breasted inspired self! The chinese superman was played by none other than DANNY LEE! (The Oily Maniac, The Killer, The TeaHouse, Blood Brothers). Though, I’m pretty sure when the masked superman came on the screen, it wasn’t Danny Lee in the costume as I have never seen him kung fu fight like that before! Especially, when Super Inframan is doing backflips on the clouds and does butterfly kicks on the crabman! All would not be well on earth as the Professor and the Chinese Superman look for ways to save society from the mount devil demons! Some cool scenes (there are many) that stood out for me included the boat ride with the monsters & the professor to mount devil, the supersize fight scene, & the He Man like set melee between the mutant drill, skeleton soldiers, the research team, & Super Inframan!
As far as I know, there are two great options available on DVD for SUPER INFRAMAN. One is the hard to get copy of the IVL/Celestial-region 3 variety and the other more readily available, but still excellent quality which includes the english dubbed & subbed soundtracks distributed by Image Entertainment. There is a really neat DVD insert written by Damon Foster & August Ragone on the Image version that explains the background of the cast members, & the inspirations for the movie which will also explain the heavy assist from Japan and their most excellent cinematographer, TADASHI NISHIMOTO aka HO LAN SHAN! HLS was reported as having the most influence on Shaw Brother films and HK Cinema with his technical cine-bravado and ‘art’-look on film! A quote from Foster & Ragone on the IMAGE DVD insert states, "In the 60's, Nishimoto convinced the Shaw Brothers to convert their filmmaking processes to Cinema Scope (christened "Shawscope")." The writeup on the DVD also divulges that Danny Lee’s sidekick in the movie was played by the famed, brucesploitation actor, Huang Kin Lung AKA Bruce Le! No wonder the kicks were of the high flying & entertaining variety in the film! Another shocking revelation (for me at least) from the insert was that BASIL GOGOS (famous artist/illustrator of the "Famous Monsters of Filmland" magazine) did the international poster art for SUPER INFRAMAN! I've got to hit up BASIL GOGOS with a sketch at the CHILLER THEATRE CONVENTION this year! Whichever version of the film you get, you will not be disappointed with the radioactive crustaceans & powerplant monsters roaming about, waiting to get their scales handed to them by a kung fu demon kicking & backflipping, chinese superman!