The Super Inframan

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The Super Inframan
SuperInframanposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Shan Hua
Produced by Run Me Shaw
Written by Kuang Ni
Starring Danny Lee,
Bruce Le
Terry Liu,
Hap Wong,
Yuan Man-Tzu,
Lin Wen-wei,
Shu-Yi Tsen,
Chien-Lung Huang,
Lu Sheng
Cinematography Tadashi Nishimoto
Release date(s) 1975
Running time 84 min
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese,
Mandarin, English
The Super Inframan
Traditional Chinese 中國超人
Simplified Chinese 中国超人
Literal meaning Chinese Superman

The Super Inframan (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: ZhōngGuóChāoRén, translated literally as Chinese Superman) is a Hong Kong Science fiction Tokusatsu film produced by Shaw Brothers Studio in 1975. Based upon the huge success of the Japanese tokusatsu shows Ultraman and Kamen Rider in Hong Kong, this film features the same type of "henshin", monster/robot action and costumed derring-do, coupled with Chinese kung fu action.

This film also has some historical importance:

  • The first superhero movie in China
  • The first movie promotion in Hong Kong using a hot air balloon
  • The first Shaw Brothers production using a storyboard

The film was directed by Hua Shan, written by science fiction writer Ni Kuang, produced by Runme Shaw and the cinematography was by Tadashi Nishimoto (as Lan Shan Ho). There was also assistance from Japan, also; Music from Ultra Seven (1967) and Mirrorman (1971) (both composed by Toru Fuyuki) is used in this film. And the Inframan/Science Headquarters/monster costumes were provided by Ekisu Productions, which had done costumes for many Toei Superhero shows of the same period. The film also starred Danny Lee as the superhero himself, and Bruceploitation star Bruce Le in a supporting role (He still got to display some of his martial art skills in many scenes of the film).

The following year, Joseph Brenner brought this film to the US, and retitled it simply Infra-Man (or Inframan), with the advertising campaign slogan "The Man Beyond Bionics!" attempting to capitalize upon the Six Million Dollar Man's success on American network television at the time.

In 2004, the film was released on DVD in Japan and Hong Kong.

Plot[edit]

Demon Princess Elzebub plots to conquer the Earth. She destroys a few major cities in China to prove her power to a terror-stricken humanity. Returning to her lair in Inner-Earth, she awakens her army of Skeleton Ghosts and various Ice Monsters to wreak havoc on the surface.

But there is hope at the high-tech Science Headquarters, run by Professor Liu Ying De. He has at long last completed and is prepared to use the BDX Project: In the HQ's secret laboratory, he transforms Lei Ma, a high-ranking SH officer, into the bionic kung fu superhero, the Inframan! Able to perform impossible feats, as well as being equipped with death-dealing weapons, the solar-powered red & silver armored Inframan is mankind's only hope against Elzebub and her army of devils.

Once Inframan destroys the princess's various monsters, she decides to steal the professor's blueprints of Inframan in hope of discovering his weakness. Meanwhile, the professor introduces a new weapon to add to Inframan arsenal. Thunderball Fists are gloves capable of destroying any substance known to man as well as covering up Inframan's weakness. The princess decides to coerce the professor. Capturing the professor's daughter, the princess blackmails the professor into creating an Inframan for her. The professor agrees to go to Mount Devil for a meeting. When the professor refuses to make another Inframan, he and his daughter are frozen. Inframan and the science patrol decide to rescue both which leads to the climatic battle between Inframan and Princess Elzebub.

Characters[edit]

The Protagonists[edit]

  • Lei Ma/Inframan (雷馬/中国超人) The hero. Played by Danny Lee (as Li Hsiu Hsien)
  • Professor Liu Ying De (劉英徳) Proprietor of Science Headquarters, and the inventor of the Inframan. Played by Wang Hsieh
  • Mei Mei (美美) The Professor's daughter. Played by Yuen Man Chi
  • Xiao Hu (小虎) Mei Mei's younger brother.
  • Lin Lin (琳琳) Mei Mei's little sister.
  • Zhu Qi Guang (朱啓光) The lieutenant of Science Headquarters.
  • Lu Xiao Long (呂小龍) The sergeant of Science Headquarters, and a tough fighter. Played by Bruce Le
  • Zhu Ming (祝明) The awkward member of Science Headquarters, who is captured and turned by Elzebub into an evil spy. Played by Lam Man Wai

The Antagonists[edit]

  • Demon Princess Elzebub This name is used in the subtitled version only. It is obviously derived from "Beelzebub". (Though her true original name is 冰河魔主) She is the main villainess, ruler of Inner-Earth. Armed with a whip, and can turn into a winged dragon creature. 魔王 pronounced "Ma Oh" means "royal demon" and 冰河 means "glaciers" thus her original Chinese name is literally "Glacial Demon Queen". In the US English dubbed version, she is called Princess Dragon Mom. Played by Terry Lau Wai Yue
  • Witch-Eye (電眼魔女) Elzebub's beautiful-but-deadly servant. Has a horned helmet and eyes on her palms that shoot green beams (hypnotic or destructive). (in the US English dubbed version, she is called She-Demon.) Played by Dana Shun Shuk Yee
  • Skeleton Ghosts (白骨幽靈) Rank and file henchmen of the Glacier Empire. They dress in black and white suits with a skeleton motif and wear horned helmets. They also carry explosive metal spears.

Ice Monsters (冰河怪獸)[edit]

  • Fire Dragon (噴火龍) A green humanoid dragon (wearing a horned crown) that shoots fire from his mouth.
  • Spider Monster (蜘蛛怪) A fat red spider creature that shoots web-bombs and acid from its mouth, and grows to giant size.
  • Plant Monster (植物怪) A teal vine-like monster that plants itself into the ground and grows into giant killer vines.
  • Mutant Drill (穿山怪) A horned blue mole-like monster with a drill for a hand and a shovel-like claw for another.
  • Long-Haired Monster (長髮怪) A red witch-like demon with long hair and huge horns that shoot yellow beams.
  • Iron Armor Monsters (鐵甲怪) Two mechanical knight-like monsters, whose heads and right-hands spring forth (with coils) to strike their enemy and retract again.

The film was released on VHS under both Prism Entertainment and Goodtimes Entertainment. In the Goodtimes Home Video version of the American opening credits, an additional section was added in between the title and the cast & crew from the Prism version, giving the film the subtitle "Battles The Sci-Fi Monsters" in an attempt to appeal more to fans of that titular genre. In this additional but misleading sequence, short snippets from the film are used to introduce and inaccurately name the villains of the film.

Princess Dragon Mom is given the name WICKED DRAGON MOM, and her alternative monster form is giving a separate name of GIANT FLYING LIZARD.

Mutant Drill is given the name THE DRILLER BEAST .

Plant Monster is given the name THE MUTANT OCTOPUS .

Long-Haired Monster is given the name THE LASER HORN MONSTER.

Fire Dragon is given the name EMPEROR OF DOOM.

Iron Armor Monsters is given the name IRON-FISTS MONSTERS.

Spider Monster is given the name THE GIANT BEETLE MONSTER.

Witch-Eye/She-Demon and The Skeleton Ghosts are omitted from this sequence.

The Powers of Inframan[edit]

Lei Ma throws his arms into a Kamen Rider-like "henshin" pose, and says:

  • "Change! Inframan!" (變!超人) (Mandarin: "Bian! Chao Ren", Cantonese: "Bin! Chiu Yan")

His powers & attacks are (Mandarin/Cantonese):

  • 噴火彈 (Pen Huo Dan/Pan Fo Daan) Erupting Bullet(s)
    • The missiles stored below Inframan's ribs. He throws them like darts, and they can also thaw him out when he's frozen.
  • 太陽甲 (Tai Yang Jia/Taai Yeung Gaap) Solar Armor (AKA: Sun Ja)
    • The stream of light that Inframan shoots from his wrist (when crossing them together like Ultraman's Spacium Light Ray).
  • 追魂腿 (Zhui Hun Tui/Jeui Wan Teui) Guided Kick (literally "Chase Soul Leg")
    • Inframan's kick attack; This can also locate its targeted enemy like a guided missile.
  • 能量發揮 (Neng Liang Fa Hui/Nang Leung Faat Fai) Capacity Transmission (literally "Capacity Quantity Emit Direct")
    • Inframan activates his backup power source, in case of lack of solar power.
  • 閃電拳 (Shan Dian Quan/Sim Din Kyun) Flashing Thunder Fists (AKA: Thunder Fists, Thunderball Fists)
    • Later attachments for Inframan; Shiny black & metallic gloves that go over his regular ones. They also shoot right off his fists (to shatter its enemy) and retract again (much like Mazinger Z's Rocket Punch). They also have the following weapons:
      • 死光刀 (Si Guang Dao/Sei Gwong Dou) Deadly Light Blades
        • The red moon-shaped energy blades that stream from the Flashing Thunder Fists.
      • 雷電光 (Lei Dian Guang/Leui Din Gwong) Thunder & Lighting Aura
        • Like the Solar Armor, but more bold and powerful.
  • Inframan also has the amazing power to grow to giant size, similar to Ultraman's Power to change size.

Critical reception[edit]

Roger Ebert, on his 7 March 1976 review for the Chicago Sun-Times, gave the film three stars out of four, concluding "The movie even looks good: It's a classy, slick production by the Shaw Brothers, the Hong Kong kung fu kings. When they stop making movies like Infra-Man, a little light will go out of the world."[1]

On 30 April 1999, after Quentin Tarantino re-released Mighty Peking Man in North America, Ebert upgraded his rating for the film to three stars, explaining that "I find to my astonishment that I gave Infra-Man only two and a half stars when I reviewed it. That was 22 years ago, but a fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that film. I am awarding Mighty Peking Man three stars, for general goofiness and a certain level of insane genius, but I cannot in good conscience rate it higher than Infra-Man. So, in answer to those correspondents who ask if I have ever changed a rating on a movie: Yes, Infra-Man moves up to three stars."[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Infra-Man". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  2. ^ "Mighty Peking Man". Chicago Sun-Times. 

External links[edit]