• Super Inframan, The



    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: April 23rd, 2018.
    Director: Shan Hua
    Cast: Danny Lee, Terry Liu, Hsieh Wang, Man-Tzu Yuan, Dana, Bruce Le, Yang Chiang
    Year: 1975
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    The Movie:

    One of the more popular superhero exports from Asia, Super Inframan (also known as Infra-Man and Chinese Superman) is a fantastic barrage of monsters and mayhem courtesy of the world famous Shaw Brothers studios. Though it's obviously inspired by the Japanese superhero television shows that were popular at the time, this Chinese answer to Ultraman has a quirky psychotronic charm that is all its own.

    When the film begins, Princess Dragon Mom (or Demon Princess Elizebub if you prefer, played by Terry Liu of The Oily Maniac in some alluringly attractive garb) rises from her lair far beneath the Earth where she's been lying in wait for centuries. With the time of her ascension at hand, she's brought with her an army of monsters that she intends to use to unleash a wave of destruction across the world so that she can conquer the Earth and rule the planet. The good people at ‘Science Headquarters’ are none too keen on Princess Dragon Mom's plan. To deal with her, bearded and stoic Professor Chang (Wang Hsieh of The Sexy Killer) creates a blue print which will allow him to turn one of his comrades into Super Inframan, a cyborg with mighty powers and fantastic abilities. While bring turned into a cyborg might sound kind of crappy, the bonus is that he'll be able to turn back into human form when he needs to so young Rayma (Danny Lee of John Woo's The Killer and, yes, Oily Maniac!) decides to volunteer for the job. He lies back on the table and we see through some really odd animation his transformation into the red metal beetle-ish Super Inframan!

    With the bad guys set up and the hero now fully transformed, it's time for action which is exactly what the film delivers as our titular hero moves from one batch of bad guys to the next. He’s constantly whupping them through a clever combination of trick weapons, lasers, gymnastics and good old fashioned kung-fu. Soon Princess Dragon Mom realizes that her plans just might be thwarted. She resorts to more drastic measures when she kidnaps the professor and his daughter in hopes of bringing Super Inframan to her so that she might destroy him once and for all.

    It’s way more fucking bonkers than it sounds.

    While the movie is very derivative of what Japanese TV was doing a few years earlier, Super Inframan is never the less a whole lot of fun thanks to the 'everything but the kitchen sink' attitude that's so prevalent throughout the film. The monsters which our hero has to square off against are plentiful and creative. Sure, the effects are really hokey by today's standards, but there's no denying that they've got plenty of enthusiasm and character behind them. This makes whatever obvious shortcomings that may be attributed to them not only forgivable but downright loveable – and check out the hot chick with the eyeball in her palm and the pointy bra! Bliss!

    Some of the coolest monsters of all time show up in this movie, from the weird orange/red spider guy to the crazy tentacle creature who sort of borrows through the ground and pops up without warning. Then there's the Princess herself – she has no problem whatsoever transforming herself into a dragon to take on Super Inframan before the day is through. Throw in some seriously cool looking skeleton henchmen guys, amazing and remarkably colorful set design, the requisite dopey kid characters that feel like they were lifted from a Gamera movie, plenty of lasers and crazy super computers and you've got yourself a fine film indeed.

    The plot is paper thin and the effects are obviously faked but that doesn't matter. Super Inframan is so fast paced and so jam packed with monster after monster and set piece after set piece that you can't help but love it. Our hero can change size, fly and more and he uses each and every one of his abilities to stop the varied creatures that are out to threaten the world. Dopey? Sure. But it's all entertaining as can be and about as much fun as you're apt to have with a film, warts and all.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The Super Inframan debuts on Blu-ray on a 25GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1, its proper theatrical aspect ratio. A lot of the Shaw Brothers Blu-ray releases from 88 Films have had some mild to moderate DNR applied that’s softened things up a bit. There’s a little bit of that here, but it seems less excessive to this reviewers eyes. Detail is pretty good here and good God, the colors look fantastic. Black levels are strong and there are no noticeable problems with any compression artifacts or edge enhancement. Black levels are strong, skin tones look just fine and there’s a reasonable amount of depth here. Detail easily surpasses the DVD release that came out via Image Entertainment in there here United States some time ago – all in all, a nice upgrade in the video department over what we’ve seen before.

    English and Chinese language audio options are offered up in LPCM Mono, with optional subtitles available translating that Chinese track. More often than not, it’s best to watch Shaw Brothers films in their original Chinese (Cantonese) language but there are exceptions to every rule and this is one of those exceptions. The English dubbed track for this feature is so ludicrous that it takes an already insane film and makes it more insane – in a good way. But hey, the Chinese track is here for those who prefer it. Both tracks sound just fine – the levels are balanced, there are no issues with any obvious hiss or distortion. For older mono mixes they aren’t bad at all.

    Extras? Sorry Charlie, this disc is barebones aside from menus and chapter selection. But as far as the packaging goes, we get some cool reversible cover art and an insert booklet from Calum Waddell that quite eloquently champion the merits of this fantastic picture and offer up some insight into its history. Some nice behind-the-scenes stills and promotional art are also included in the booklet. And if you order it from the 88 Films website you’ll get a keen limited edition slipcover.

    The Final Word:

    For fans of crazed Asian super-heroics or just flat out fun filmmaking, this movie demands to be seen. It’s about as over the top as can be, and it’s as entertaining as all get out. 88 Films’ Blu-ray is light on extra features to be sure, but it looks and sound quite good. Anyone who appreciates a good time at the movies and who can enjoy a cavalcade of ridiculous monsters should get a serious kick out of this one.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!