Infra-Man (1975)

Inspired by the huge success of the Japanese superhero versus monster fare such as Ultraman and Kamen Rider in Hong Kong, the Shaw Brothers produced the first Chinese superhero in 1975, which they called Infra-Man. However, they pushed the envelope created by the Japanese even further, inventing a world where a school bus can crash, Hong Kong can be destroyed, an earthquake can happen and monsters appear all within the first minute of the film.

Let me see if I can summarize the blast of pure odd that I just watched at 5 AM: Princess Dragon Mom (known in the original version of this film as Demon Princess Elzebub) is a ten million-year-old mother of monsters who wants to destroy the Earth. She carries around a whip and has a dragon head on her hand, but can also turn into a monster herself. She also has an entire legion of beasts ready to do whatever she asks, like her assistant She-Demon (Witch-Eye in the original), who is an Asian girl with a hand that has an eyeball in the middle of it. Also: both of these ladies wear metallic bikinis with skulls all over them and have several costume changes. They also have an army of cannon fodder dressed in skeletal costumes, which was obviously the influence for the Skeleton Crew in the new episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

They’re battling with Science Headquarters, led by Professor Liu Ying-de. He’s used the BDX Project to transform Lei Ma (Danny Lee, The Killer) into the bionic kung-fu kicking motorcycle riding Infra-Man, who has whatever powers he needs for any situation. He’s also really good at getting tall and stepping on monsters until their green blood pours out. Bruce Lee tribute actor Bruce Le also appears as Lu Xiao-long, another member of the team.

You get all manner of monsters in this one — the Emperor of Doom, the Giant Beetle Monster, an Octopus Mutant, the Driller Beast, a Laser Horn Monster and the Iron Fist Robots. All of them are given to dramatic pronouncements, overacting and blowing up real good.

Believe it or not, Roger Ebert said, “When they stop making movies like Infra-Man, a little light will go out of the world.” Twenty-two years later, he went even further: “I find to my astonishment that I gave Infra-Man only two and a half stars when I reviewed it. That was 22 years ago, but a fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn’t think he’d remember. I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that film. So, in answer to those correspondents who ask if I have ever changed a rating on a movie: Yes, Infra-Man moves up to three stars.”

He’s right — this movie is completely unhinged, with dragon witch women who threaten to throw little girls down volcanos, blotting out the sun and rocket fists. They should have made five thousand sequels to this.

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

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