The Bad Movie Report


Okay, okay, Dr. Freex admits it - he loves kung fu films. Not just any chop-socky "Master, he insulted our schoolPOW WHACK CRUNCH", but the really over-the-top ones. He also has a soft spot in his heart for ungainly rubber monsters (and if you're reading this, chances are, you do too). And superheroes. So he loves Inframan.

Let us ignore the fact that this film is apparently made up of episodes of a television series. Let us ignore the fact that this TV series is an obvious rip-off of the Japanese Ultraman. And let us definitely ignore the fact that the prefix infra- means "under", as in "Infrastructure". ("Look! It is Underman!" just doesn't have the same panache.)

Who cares? This movie rocks.

I first saw this when I took my little brother to see it at a drive-in movie when it was first released in 1975. As I recall, the second movie on the double bill was The Towering Inferno. It was a memorable evening of bad cinema.

Geet them!It seems the relentlessly evil Princess Dragon Mom (Terry Liu) has been sacked out at the center of the earth for ten million years, and she and her monster gang have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed, big time: mankind, which evolved during her nap, is given the choice of slavery or destruction. Luckily for us all, the brilliant Professor Chang (Wang Hsieh) has just enough time to turn the heroic Science Policeman Rayma (Li Hsiu-Hsien, Mr. Fists of Fury himself) into the powerful cyborg Inframan!

Dragon Mom has a seemingly inexhaustable supply of Skull Warriors (read: cannon fodder) and Inframan vs. the Tabongaabout eight rubber-suited nasties as her heavy hitters, and a nearly non-stop kickass-athon follows. Of course, Rayma, being the hero, knows kung fu - but so do all the monsters! We pause for plot development every now and then, but never for very long. There's something about Chang's dead wife. Rayma's pal Chu Ming is hypnotized by the eyes painted onto the palms of the She-Demon, and betrays everyone. Dragon Mom then throws him into a lava pit, 'cause she doesn't like traitors. She has apparently read Management Secrets of Vlad the Impaler.

Naturally, the professor and his daughter (Yuan Man-Tzu) are captured, Inframan has fun stormin' the castle, gets frozen, and realizes how to get out of this predicament by having a flashback to a scene we have never seen before. Dragon Mom seeks to exploit the knowledge Chu Ming stole for her - that IM's weak spot is his hands - but ha ha! the wily Chang has installed the devastating Thunderbolt Fist since that set of blueprints! IM proceeds to wipe the floor with all and sundry! A good time was had by all! -30-!

It is impossible to approach Inframan as anything else but what it was meant to be - cheesy fun. This ain't art, it's Entertainment, pure and simple. A lot of attention has been directed over the last few years at Hong Kong cinema, largely (I believe) for just that reason - they still know how to have fun.

It's coming from my wrist, so I'm NOT ripping off Ultraman!Thank God Joseph Brenner brought this over in 1975. Had it been discovered today, they'd have slapped some Anglo teen gymnast/bad actor in the title role and cut all the fight scenes back into the new footage, as any number of Saban cannibalizations have done.

Don't get me started. Just don't get me started.



God Bless the Shaw Brothers!

- November 9, 1997