Infra-Man (1975)

INFRA-MAN (1975)
aka Zhong guo chao ren
Article 2993 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 7-18-2009
Posting Date: 10-24-2009
Directed by Shan Hua
Featuring Danny Lee, Terry Liu, Hsieh Wang
Country: Hong Kong

In order to battle an attack by subterranean monsters led by the evil Princess Dragon Mom, a Professor transforms his assistant into the indestructible super-hero Infra-Man.

In this movie, the Shaw Brothers take the basic Japanese superhero premise (Starman, Ultraman, etc), combine it with their own martial arts movies, inject it with the manic energy of a busload of kids all hyped up on sugar and caffeine, and the result is one of the most insane guilty cinematic pleasures of all time which is only enhanced by the ridiculous dialogue and bad dubbing. Here are my ten favorite moments of insanity from this epic.

1) A man informing a committee that “the situation at this time is so serious, it’s the worst in human history”.

2) Infra-Man, having just been created, makes his first appearance and we see onlookers pointing to him and saying, “Look! Infra-Man!”

3) Infra-Man does battle with a monster bug, who suddenly turns into a giant. After a few minutes of avoiding the bug’s attacks, Infra-Man then turns into a giant himself. This scene has all the logic of children playing a pretend game and making up the rules as they go along.

4) The first appearance of Princess Dragon Mom’s minion monsters, who flail their various appendages incessantly and chatter endlessly about how they look forward to destroying things.

5) The professor telling his daughter about the most wonderful moment in his life; her birth. According to the Professor, this event happened with “no warning at all”. Either he wasn’t paying very close attention, or he’s not as smart as he seems.

6) To enhance Infra-Man’s powers, the professor gives him “thunderball fists”, the device that is supposed to finally make Infra-Man all-powerful. For the rest of the movie, Infra-Man dispatches with the monster mostly by using, not his thunderball fists, but by his jet-pack feet.

7). The power goes out while Infra-Man is being created. The professor tells one of his helpers that if he doesn’t fix the power in one minute, Infra-Man will die. On the way to fix the power, the helper is assaulted by a giant tentacle, which dangles him up in the air. Fortunately, a team of other helpers emerge just in time with a circular saw, which cuts off the tentacle, allowing the helper to reach the lever which fixes the power.

8) Despite all of his powers, Infra-Man spends most of the movie battling his foes with kung fu. And he always does a triple backflip before attacking.

9) Princess Dragon Mom threatens to drop the Professor’s daughter into a lava pit if he doesn’t create an Infra-Man for her. He refuses. She responds by… freezing them both in a block of ice until they reconsider. Talk about idle threats.

10) Infra-Man himself is dropped into the lava pit, and it looks like the end of him… until he remembers he can fly.

There are others, but these give good hints of the absurd charm of what may be my favorite super-hero movie of them all. I wish there was a sequel, and though IMDB does list one, the movie they list is THE MIGHTY PEKING MAN, which seems to have little relation to this one.

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