The Super Inframan (1975)

The Super Inframan [中國超人] (1975)
AKA Infra-Man

Starring Danny Lee, Wang Hsieh, Yuan Man-Tzu, Terry Lau Wai-Yue, Dana, Lin Wen-Wei, Kong Yeung, Bruce Le, Fanny Leung Maan-Yee, Ting Tung

Directed by Hua Shan

Expectations: High. I love this one.

On the general scale:
I don’t think it matters.

On the B-movie scale:

There are many different types of great movies, and to call The Super Inframan anything less than great is selling it short. It may lack the depth of more traditionally great movies, but it makes up for this with some of the most fun and relentless entertainment I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Simply put, The Super Inframan is pure fun from start to finish. This is entertainment of the highest order, and to look at it critically, picking apart its flaws for the sake of proving why its unable to sit alongside cinema’s great films is completely wrong-minded. The film sets out to hammer home thunder-fisted thrills and it does not disappoint.

Written by the prolific and talented Ni Kuang, The Super Inframan introduces us to a world in chaos. Natural disasters are occurring all across Hong Kong: earthquakes split roads in two, fire bursts forth from the ground, and a previously dormant volcano has suddenly become very active. Soon after, a local science center is contacted by Demon Princess Elzebub AKA the wonderfully named Princess Dragon Mom in the English dub (Terry Lau Wai-Yue). She informs the scientists that she is the Earth’s new master; our only choice to surrender or be destroyed.

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Kraa! the Sea Monster (1998)

kraa_2Starring R.L. McMurry, Teal Marchande, Robert Garcia, Robert J. Ferrelli, Jeff Rector, Stephen Martines, Anthony Furlong, Alison Lohman, Candida Tolentino, J.W. Perra, Jon Simanton, Jerry Lentz, Michael Guerin, John Paul Fedele

Directed by Aaron Osborne (with kaiju SFX scenes directed by Dave Parker)

Expectations: I hope it’s as fun as Zarkorr! the Invader was.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

Kraa! the Sea Monster begins with promise. Lord Doom, a red-caped villain with a skull face (who looks like he could be a cousin of the metal-faced, green-caped Doctor Doom!), converses with his minion Chamberlain, a midget with white face paint and space goggles. They hatch a plan to steal the Earth out from under us humans by sending down the alien behemoth Kraa to pave the way for the Doom clan. Lord Doom’s planet is becoming too cold to support life, and he craves the warmth of the Earth. Someone just send this guy a space heater and call it a day!

Unlike Full Moon’s previous kaiju film, Zarkorr! the Invader, in Kraa! the survival of the Earth does not hinge on the actions of one man. That task mainly falls onto the backs of the Planet Patrol, a group of teens flying around the galaxy in a Death Star-like sphere ship. Lord Doom disables their ship so they are unable to respond, but somehow (I honestly forget how) the Planet Patrol is able to send an agent to Earth that should be able to handle the job.

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Zarkorr! the Invader (1996)

zarkorr_6Starring Rhys Pugh, De’Prise Grossman, Mark Hamilton, Charles Schneider, Ron Barnes, Dileen Nesson, Torie Lynch, John Paul Fedele, Mike Terner, Robert J. Ferrelli

Directed by Aaron Osborne (with kaiju SFX scenes directed by Michael Deak)

Expectations: I have a bad feeling, but I want it to be good.

On the general scale:

On the B-movie scale:

What happens when noted low-budget studio Full Moon puts together a kaiju film? Pure Grade A Grade B entertainment! Don’t believe me? Take the film’s first two scenes as an example. The film opens with a mountain exploding and a giant dinosaur kaiju bursting out from it. As if that’s not enough to launch the film, the monster then stands in front of the gaping hole he made, emitting his Godzilla-like scream while giant balls of fire erupt around him. It reminded me of the ridiculous intros that wrestlers have, and I wished — even before seeing more than two minutes of the movie — that there was a Zarkorr! sequel so this horned behemoth could go claw-to-claw with another fearsome giant (who could have a similar ridiculous intro).

But many B-Movies kick off with a bang, and then leave viewers in the lurch. Not Zarkorr! the Invader! The next scene is a complete change of pace, as we meet our hero: a lowly postal worker. He’s just minding his own business in his apartment when a teenage girl about three inches high materializes onto his kitchen table out of a ball of light. She informs him that he’s been chosen to defeat the beast, the invader from another realm… Zarkorr! the Invader! She leaves him with a few truths about the monster — such as he cannot be harmed by any weapon known to man — and then disappears just as quickly as she appeared. You’re probably wondering why this meek postal worker was chosen and not someone brawny like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Here’s where the logic gets a little fuzzy. This guy was picked specifically because he’s the median human; 50% of the world is better suited to the job, and 50% of the world is less well-equipped for the job. So if you were wondering: yes, mediocrity does have its benefits.

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Pacific Rim (2013)

pacificrim_1Starring Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Burn Gorman, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Clifton Collins Jr., Ron Perlman, Diego Klattenhoff, Mana Ashida

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

Expectations: Very high.


Pacific Rim is the epitome of what the summer blockbuster film stands for, concerned only with being as awesome as it can possibly be. It may have the look and feel of an emotional story at times, but these moments are mere flourishes on the canvas of awesome. Consequently, the film can be quickly discredited by those that would prefer to cross their arms instead of raising them in a cheer — and they’re not wrong. Pacific Rim speaks directly to the 10-year-old inside you, warping you back to a time when the most pressing matter in your life was whether an awesome robot dude could beat up an awesome lizard dude. Director Guillermo del Toro is obviously a huge fan of that type of thinking, and he has delivered a grand, modern kaiju film for the ages.

Pacific Rim doesn’t waste a moment of your time, as roughly 30 seconds after it begins the first kaiju hits the screen. Concurrently, we learn of the genesis of the Jaeger program, or how nations put aside their differences to build massive, awesome robots to combat the kaiju scourge. But a few years into the Kaiju War, things aren’t so hot, and that’s where our tale begins. To tell any more would be to give away too much (not that there’s a lot to give away). Pacific Rim‘s strength is definitely not its storytelling, but its ability to consistently and thoroughly entertain.

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