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June 6, 2007

{     The Super Inframan     }    

During the VHS/BETA rental-boom of the 80's my dad used to take my brother and I to a furniture shop downtown that doubled as a makeshift video rental store. Amongst all the giant brightly-colored clamshell VHS boxes for perpetually checked-out "new" releases like Tootsie, Kramer Vs. Kramer and Clash of the Titans there stood a box that outshined them all, the cover art featuring a tight shot of kaiju-hero Inframan, with wicked blue-white laser beams shooting from his eyes. It was love at first sight.

20+ years later, I'm still enamored. Inframan was my entry point to a genre of film/TV that I have come to adore, involving costumed heroes battling it out with rubber-suited bad-guys, a natural branch off the Godzilla/Gamera family tree of giant-monster movies. At the time I had no idea that what I was actually watching was Hong Kong's answer to (some party-pooper-purists would say "blatant rip-off of") Japan's successful Ultraman and Kamen Rider series. I just knew that it was absolutely fucking awesome, and one of the coolest things I'd ever seen in my young life.

And it's still badass today. Image Entertainment has recently reissued The Super Inframan on DVD, restoring the film to a level of quality that's never been seen in the US. Not only is the transfer brilliant, but we're treated to the original Cantonese audio track, much improved over the muddy English dub.

But nobody should be watching this flick because of it's technical specs. You're here for roughshod sci-fi kung-fu kaiju-ass-kickin' action, and that's where Inframan delivers. What sets this film apart and distinguishes it from the crop of Japanese flim and TV from whence it drew it's inspiration is an amazingly kinetic and colorful sense of action and movement. As a Shaw Brother's film, it's got the chop-socky pedigree necessary to pull off fun and entertaining fight scenes, even when the main characters are sleeved in bulky rubber monster suits or zero-visibility face masks.

The rough edges and hyper-raw choreography are a stark contrast to the controlled, almost clinical, staging of old school Ultraman or Kamen Rider episodes, while still coming off as much more polished and fluid than new-school science-hero schlock like Power Rangers and VR Troopers. The special-effects are straight out of the standard Shaw Brothers bag of tricks; strobing cut-aways, primary colored lighting and frequent use of extreme swooping close-ups and pan-outs. Added to this are brilliantly tacky sci-fi laser blasts, flash-pot explosives and prosthetic rubber tentacles galore. The character designs range from the ridiculous (Plant Monster) to the sublime (Skeleton Ghost), as do the production design and overall aesthetic of the film. It's beautiful and trashy all at once.

Confession time: One of the main reasons I think I love(d) this movie so much is that I totally had a boner for the villianess Princess Elzibub (AKA Princess Dragon Mom) and her femme-domme sidekick Witch Eye. Some bizarre fetish for costumed Asian women in brightly colored wigs was awakened in me, and has yet to be quelled....

You can pick this up at right now for under $14 (slap in the coupon code PRICESEARCH for an additional 20% off)

     » Snatch it up at


i'll have to buy this for the cover alone! thank you for being my japanafilter.

Posted by: garrett at June 8, 2007 8:17 PM
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