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  Super Inframan, The Rubber Suit Ruckus
Year: 1975
Director: Hua Shan
Stars: Danny Lee, Terry Liu, Hap Wong, Yuan Man-Tzu, Lin Wen-wei, Shu-Yi Tsen, Chen-Lung Huang, Lu Sheng, Yang Chiang, Bruce Le, Wai Lo, Lam Man Wai, Hsieh Wang
Genre: Action, Martial Arts, Science Fiction, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A school bus full of children is being driven along a countryside road when suddenly a huge winged beast flies overhead and lands in front of them. The driver, teacher and children really begin to panic when a huge chasm opens up in the collapsing road, and the teacher and her charges are able to get out just in time - the driver is not so lucky. This heralds the start of days of destruction as volcanoes burst from the ground and burn the cities, so the world looks to Professor Liu (Hap Wong) to save them. He arrives at his high-tech research centre and declines to answer any questions from the waiting press, instead rushing inside to his staff. It's not long before the Professor has received a warning from the entity behind all this destruction: the demonic Princess Elzebub (Terry Liu) who has returned to Earth with the enslavery of all mankind in her sights. Who can save us now?

Well, the clue's in the title. The inspiration for this Hong Kong action spectacular brought to you by the Shaw Brothers was the Japanese television series Ultraman, which was very popular in the territory and therefore, before you could say "rip off" there was a Chinese version. The similarities were obvious, most notably in its hero, a bionic man who turns into a masked, red and silver costumed superbeing who is just the thing to combat any megalomaniac demons in the area. And there is no shortage of them according to this, scripted (or borrowed) by Kuang Ni, which works up a fine deluge of delirium with its bountiful special effects and extensive action sequences that you can't help but be caught up in.

All those fight scenes reveal the true nature of the film: it's actually a martial arts event. Yes, once the volunteer, Rayma (Danny Lee), has undergone a thorough bout of surgery, there must be at least half an hour of it, he's ready to kick demon arse for the rest of the film. While he's still undergoing the transformation, the Princess sends out her minions in the shape of a green blob man sporting a drill on one arm and a clamp on the other (how does he eat his Rice Krispies in the morning?), and a plant man, also green naturally, who turns into a Quatermass Xperiment-style creature and quickly grows to research centre size where his tendrils grab all and sundry. Can the Professor finish his work and will Inframan be able to stop them? Considering all this is happening during the first third, it's safe to say he will.

A word on the Professor's remarkable wig. His hairpiece is so patently false that all the way through the film I expected it to whipped off by a monster, or at the very least shoot up a foot above his head in surprise, but I have to say I was disappointed. I wasn't disappointed with the rest of the production, however, which promises mindless thrills and delivers them most satisfactorily with flair and enthusiasm. When one of the Professor's underlings (who all wear a snazzy silver and blue uniform) is brainwashed by the Princess into stealing the Inframan plans, it looks as if all will be lost, but it leads up to an assault on the villain's lair, to save both the Professor and his daughter. Along the way, we have seen Inframan grow to tremendous size to battle a huge beetle monster, combat that ends most amusingly when the beetle shrinks back to his regular size and is stomped on. The only aspect missing from all this mayhem is, as in the Japanese productions, a sense of a world outside all this under threat, yet the opening apart this is absent. Still, great fun is guaranteed - such a pity Hong Kong studios of the day didn't try their hands at more of these. Music by Yung-Yu Chen.

Aka: Chung Kuo Chao Ren
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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