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Category:    Home > Reviews > Super Hero > Martial Arts Cycle > Science Fiction > Giant Monsters > Monsters > Super Inframan (Region 3/NTSC)

Super Inframan (aka Infra-Man/Region 3, NTSC Format)


PLEASE NOTE: This is a DVD that can only be operated on machines capable of playing back DVDs set for Region 3 and the NTSC format, and can be ordered from our friends at Xploited Cinema through their website:




They have this and hundreds of other great, usually very hard to get titles that are often long overdo to his the U.S. DVD market.  Be sure to visit their site for more details on that as well.




Picture: B-     Sound: C     Extras: C+     Film: B



Some films are so unbelievable, you have to see them to believe they ever got made.  This is particularly true for certain genre works.  By 1975, with the first Star Wars two years away, the superhero genre was in another golden period.  Besides toys going like crazy and TV shows doing well, spoofs of the genre and characters were in swing as a reaction to Vietnam.  The Shaw Brothers, so well known for their martial arts films and the occasional cult genre work, went into obscurity when Hollywood went back into the full swing of effects-driven blockbusters.  New interest in their work has surfaced thanks to Quentin Tarantino, but not enough people have heard of one of their best films.  Hua Shan’s Super Inframan (issued as simply Infra-Man in the United States) took on everything happening in character action in 1975.


Beginning with sending up the very popular Ultraman, then Superman (the “S” was actually used in original promotions outside the U.S.!) as a representative of all the great serious comic hero characters, the film and its screenplay by I Kuang knows no boundaries or limits.  This is why this film has such a strong following.  But the creators did not stop there.  They wanted to also make their hero a martial arts kickin’, spinnin’ and body flippin’ version of then megahit The Six Million Dollar Man, the monsters were demented martial arts versions of the human-sized characters from many a Sid & Marty Krofft TV series and the military science groups are in the proud tradition of Destroy All Monsters.  This is more than a mere pastiche, it is a non-stop romp that shows a true love of all these great aspects of pop culture genres of the time and brings them together into something very unexpected and unforgettable.  Our heroes’ powers even come from the sun like that famous Kryptonian we all know and love.


The villain is Princess Elzibub (Princess Dragon Mom in the dubbed U.S. version, for those who might remember) who has a skeleton army that looks like something out of Michel Gondry’s classic Music Video for Daft Punk’s great hit Around The World and a variety of other supernatural creatures at her command.  She wants to take over the world.  There is also an unspoken but very real conflict going on here between the supernatural as evil gone wrong and technology as the savior of this literally Satanic evil.  The dichotomy is much more pronounced in the film than those critics who wrote it off as “kid’s stuff and the “Dragon Mom” moniker in the U.S. version negates this point a bit.  This actually gets darker than you would think in the climax, considering the context, which makes it all the more fascination.  Our hero is played by Danny lee, best known internationally years later as the main police officer in John Woo’s The Killer.  He excels in this role and makes it all the more believable, being “formatted” to become the title character just in time for the first attack.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image is beautifully restored and makes the film look terrific here, as shot by cinematography by Tadashi Nishimoto, under the name Lan-Shan Ho.  It may be dubbed Shaw-Scope, but it was shot very well with real anamorphic Panavision lenses and holds up remarkably as a result.  The color is often stunning, even when the more dated effects kick in.  There is a sequence the hero grows into a Godzilla size to battle a monster of equal size and threat.  This forced perception work holds up shockingly well.  Video Red holds up particularly good, likely in part due to PAL being better than NTSC in this respect.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is here in Mandarin and Cantonese, bit both are a bit smaller-sounding than I would have liked, but I am ever-amused by the use (and abuse) of sound effects from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) as if that made it more “scientific” or something.  Fans in the U.S. will be disappointed the gloriously corny English dub is sadly not included, but watching the film in a more straightforward way gave me a new appreciation of how good it really is beyond just the fun aspects.  Some great English subtitles are included, but they did not to subtitle all our heroes’ trick weapons, though maybe putting them in brackets would have helped.  This version is the Hong Kong 84 minutes cut, though the U.S. version runs 92 minutes.


Extras include a stills gallery, the original Hong Kong release poster, a text frame dubbed “production notes, bios on the director & two male leads, and trailers for this and four other feature films form the Celestial DVD catalog including Star Wars spoof Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and Shaw Brothers’ classic The Mighty Peking Man.  With the likes of the lame Power Rangers and other wrestling-as-superhero franchises amok today, none of them would have been possible without Super Inframan.  This never became a franchise and is a great stand-alone work that is a must-see for genre lovers.  Gene Siskel loved this film and you should see why.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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