Supermen Against the Amazons [三超人與女霸王, Superuomini, Superdonne, Superbotte] (1975)
AKA Super Stooges vs. the Wonder Women, Barbarian Revenge, Return of the Barbarian Women, Amazons and Supermen, Amazons against Superman

Starring Aldo Canti, Marc Hannibal, Yueh Hua, Malisa Longo, Aldo Bufi Landi, Magda Konopka, Genie Woods, Kirsten Gille, Riccardo Pizzuti, Lynne Moody, Karen Yip Leng-Chi, Giacomo Rizzo

Directed by Alfonso Brescia

Expectations: Low.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Out of all the Shaw Brothers co-productions I’ve seen, Supermen Against the Amazons is the one that exhibits the least amount of Shaw influence. It was shot entirely in Italy, with only a pair of Shaw actors in supporting roles. It feels much more like the Shaw Studio lent out some actors instead of actually co-producing the film. Regardless of this, Supermen Against the Amazons is a movie that defies you not to have a good time with it. I’ve never been a fan of Italian comedies, but when one presents me with a man using the wind power of his burp to hold back attackers, I can only laugh and roll with whatever the movie decides to dish out. Supermen Against the Amazons is a decidedly weird slice of cinema, but for B-Movie fans it’s weirdly delicious.

The story isn’t one that makes a lot of sense, and to be honest I didn’t follow it too closely. The gist is that the Amazon women are terrorizing the local villages, kidnapping people and looking to kill their immortal fire-wielding deity Dharma. I have no clue why the Amazons are doing this, but since the film opens with a lengthy ritual where the fittest Amazon warrior is crowned queen of the tribe, I’ll assume it’s something to do with the new regime. Meet the new boss, more hellbent on local conquest than the old boss!

What the villagers don’t know about Dharma is that his immortality is merely a closely guarded family secret. Dharma is a mantle passed down through the ages, and when we meet the current Dharma (Aldo Bufi Landi), he’s old and deep into the training of his replacement Dharma (Aldo Canti). Meanwhile, a pair of amazing men of superhuman abilities — Chung (Yueh Hua) and Moog (Marc Hannibal) — are traveling across the land to meet with Dharma. They hope to bathe themselves in Dharma’s flame and become immortal themselves, but instead they just get deeply entangled in the fight with the Amazons. If this sounds suitable epic and interesting, don’t be fooled! Supermen Against the Amazons feels low-budget and quite of its time, so regardless what images the story details might conjure up, it definitely doesn’t reach beyond its roots.

As an action film it isn’t all that action-packed, but it makes up for its transgressions with a final 20–30 minutes that are almost entirely action. During this rousing section, it finally dawned on me that Supermen Against the Amazons was something of a take on Seven Samurai. But since there are only three heroes here, it’s actually more similar to Three Amigos! 🙂 I’m drawing a blank why Supermen Against the Amazons isn’t as well-known as Seven Samurai, though… I mean, Seven Samurai doesn’t culminate in its heroes riding in to save the day in man-powered, flame-throwing wooden tanks, and that has to count for something!

The limited fights don’t really bear any traditional Shaw flavor, either. There are some hand-to-hand moments, and even some clashing of swords, but the choreography is slow, boring and barely worth even mentioning. On top of that, these fights are filmed without even a hint of style in the camerawork or the editing. It’s only a shred above simply setting the camera on a tripod and walking away. These fights really illustrate how important these technical aspects are to the action film, as I’m almost positive that whatever poor choreography or performance issues there are could’ve been made much more entertaining with a more energetic, imaginative director.

But Supermen Against the Amazons is not entirely without imagination! There is a wealth of weird and wacky stuff on display throughout the film, and these bits are truly what makes the film enjoyable. The aforementioned tanks and “the burp of ultimate wind” (as I dubbed it) are merely two of these odd concoctions. It definitely takes a certain type of film fan to appreciate something like this, so if that’s you: enjoy!

Next up in this chronological journey through the Shaw Brothers Martial Arts catalog is Pao Hsueh-Li’s The Imposter! See ya then!