Welcome to Tokusatsu Gesundheit, where today we’re taking a trip across the Yellow Sea from our usual fare to watch the Chinese Kung-Fu Tokusatsu, Super Inframan!
Demon Princess Elzebub frees herself and her monster army from the core of the Earth after millions of years spent dormant. She delivers humanity an ultimatum – become my slaves or be destroyed. Professor Liu Ying-de, leader of the heroic Science Headquarters, turns his top agent, Lei Ma, into the fighting cyborg Inframan to beat back the invaders!
In 1975, seeing the success that Japanese Tokusatsu shows like Kamen Rider and Ultraman were having in Hong Kong, the Shaw Brothers Studio (makers of Tarantino-influencing films such as The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, The Five Deadly Venoms, and The Executioners from Shaolin) decided they needed to get in on the superhero game. They hired a sci-fi writer (most of their material being period Kung Fu flicks) to craft the story and the Japanese Ekisu Productions (of Kamen Rider V3 fame) to produce the costumes and they were off to the races.
- The costumes for both Inframan and his foes look cheap and cheesy and perfectly in sync with what was going on in Japanese Tokusatsu at the time – hiring the experts worked.
- If there’s one thing the Shaw Bros. knew how to make, it was a movie with fights. While some of them are a tad limited (due to the suits mostly), some solid martial arts chops are shown off throughout.
- Princess Elzebub and her assistant, Witch-Eye, are attractive ladies dressed in skimpy outfits, if you’re in to that sort of thing.
- It was the first superhero film ever produced in Hong Kong and bears the not-at-all infringing title Chinese Superman in its home country. The original theatrical poster even has the iconic S-shield on it!
The movie is fairly cheesy, but in a way that perfectly syncs up with its contemporaries in the genre. It’s silly fun geared toward a younger audience, a pleasant way to waste an afternoon. I mostly agree with Roger Ebert’s three out of four star review, despite the name of the column I previously wrote about this film in.
NEXT WEEK: Having talked about China aping Japan, we’re gonna watch Japan ape America when King Kong Escapes!