Entry updated 7 November 2022. Tagged: Film.
Hong Kong film (1975). Original title Zhong Guo Chao Ren; vt Infra-Man; vt The Super Inframan Battles The Sci-Fi Monsters. Shaw Brothers Studio. Directed by Hua Shan. Written by Ni Kuang. Cast includes Wang Hsieh, Danny Lee, Terry Liu and Dana Shum. 85 minutes. Colour.
Following a series of Disasters all over the world, the Princess Dragon Ma (named Demon Princess Elzebub in some versions) (Liu) broadcasts her ultimatum: "I've conquered the Earth. I am your new ruler now ... surrender to me or I'll destroy you all." Scientist Professor Liu Ying De (Hsieh) of the Research Laboratory quickly reports to the authorities, explaining he has deduced the Princess is a member of a race of people buried (see Underground) during the Ice Age 20 million years ago, who adapted to the conditions and have now reawakened and resurfaced. He recommends they execute plan BDX right away.
Professor Liu has been working on the Inframan, a person "implanted with sophisticated Technology and enhanced with super-human DNA" (see Cyborgs and Genetic Engineering), as well as wearing impregnable body armour (see Powered Armour). One of his assistants, Reima (Lee), volunteers to become Inframan. This is fortunate, as the Princess has an army of eccentric-looking Mutants who are eager to destroy humanity: she sends a couple to destroy the laboratory. Reima becomes the red-attired (with blue bug eyes and short antennae) Super Inframan (see Superheroes) in time to prevent a tentacled mutant from doing irreparable damage: his mixture of kung-fu, strength, agility and advanced Weaponry makes relatively short work of the Monster. However, the other mutant has abducted his friend, whom the Princess brainwashes and sends back to the laboratory to steal the Inframan plans; examining these she realizes that Inframan's weakness is being solar powered (see Power Sources). The Princess coerces Professor Liu into coming to her HQ by kidnapping his daughter: she then has black clouds cover the Sun when Inframan arrives on a rescue mission. However it turns out this is but a minor inconvenience and he, with the Laboratory's forces, defeats the mutants and the Princesses' skeletal troops. In the final confrontation Inframan discovers the Princess can turn into a dragon and Regenerate from any injury – including repeated head loss: however, she is killed when he destroys her entire body.
Our hero can fly, become giant-sized (when one off the mutants grows into what is essentially a Kaiju) and has Thunderbolt Fists that not only "can produce lasers at 10,000 watts per centimeter" but also hold a "laser blade". Super Inframan was made by the Hong Kong based Shaw Brothers film company, which for part of the 1960s had been the world's largest privately owned film studio, producing movies in several genres, but best known for their Wuxia (mainly 1960s) and kung-fu (mainly 1970s) works. Super Inframan was the company's attempt to cash in on the success of the Japanese Tokusatsu genre, such as Kamen Rider and Ultraman – but with plenty of kung-fu action and more swearing. As such, it is a lot of fun, though leaning more towards the silly end of Absurdism than the surrealist edge that often accompanied the Japanese originals (though the Princesses' assistant Witch Eye (Shum) having an eye in the palm of her hands is striking). A US poster for the Infra-Man release proclaimed "The Man Beyond Bionics", an attempt to cash in on The Six Million Dollar Man. As critic Roger Ebert observed, "When they stop making movies like Infra-Man, a little light will go out of the world." [SP]
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