Imagine Austin Powers crossed with a very bad 1970’s Marvel adaptation and you have a rough idea of The Super Inframan, the Shaw Brothers’ 1975 blockbuster film that is getting a UK debut on Blu-ray, courtesy of 88 Films.
Before you watch this purchase, I would seriously suggest you read Calum Waddell’s excellent history and insight into the film in the booklet provided with the disc, as it does place a lot of context and background into a sub-genre of Far East Cinema called Kaiju that has influenced to this day, notably the Pacific Rim films.
However, if you see the film cold without reading the booklet, be prepared for one of the wackiest, spectacularly silly and cheerfully tongue-in-cheek films to come out of the Shaw Brothers studio. It’s quite unlike in some ways anything else they produced, although it does contain those trademark Kung fu fights in the likes of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, one of the greatest Martial Arts epics.
Even in the original Chinese language dub with English Subtitles, the quite inane dialogue and exchanges between the characters shine through in their banality, but this is part of the charm of a film that admittedly does have some great production design, costumes and some pretty good visual effects.
An earthquake has just threatened the locals, brought on by the recently re-awakened evil Princess Elzebub (Terry Lau). She announces without compromise that she wants the human race to surrender or face the dire consequences. Meanwhile, a science HQ officer, Lei Ma (Danny Lee) decides to sacrifice (willingly, I might add) his own normality to become the ‘Inframan’ of the title, a super-human bionic man with lots of powers (and looking a bit like Michael Jackson in his Thriller get-up!) who leaps into action (literally!) and battles lots of monsters (classic men in rubber suits!) to try and save the day…
Compared to the more recent blockbusters, this is a production that utilises much of the production values and elements at its disposal and modern audiences. Given it was produced two years before Star Wars, some of the effects are actually well-made and the fight sequences are staged effectively in a climax that reminds one of the likes of Barbarella (1968) and Flash Gordon (1980)
You are bound, as this writer did, to laugh and stifle your disbelief at some of the scenes, but that is the whole point of such a daft concept and film, that to its’ credit has more fun per second than a lot of the modern high-concept and big-budgeted blockbusters have, where a lot of them try and take themselves a little too seriously for some people’s liking.
Picture and sound quality of the film (in glorious Shaw Scope) is excellent with attractive packaging. Sadly, aside from the booklet, there aren’t any tantalising extras to gleam over, which leaves only the film to enjoy, but on balance, this is well worth a purchase.
THE SUPER INFRAMAN (1975)/ CERT: 15 /DIRECTOR: SHAN HUA / SCREENPLAY: KUANG NI / STARRING: DANNY LEE, TERRY LIU, HSIEH WANG, MAN-TZU YUAN / RELEASE DATE: APRIL 23RD