Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Inframan and Neighbors

One weekend in May (the one between the SF International Film Festival and the Roxie's I Wake Up Dreaming), I caught two films which in hindsight were less than worthwhile.

Inframan starring Danny Lee; directed by Shan Hua; Mandarin with subtitles; (1975)
Neighbors starring Seth Rogen, Rose Byrne & Zac Efron; directed by Nicholas Stoller; (2014) - Official Website

I saw Inframan at the New Parkway as part of their martial arts matinee series.  On the second Saturday of each month, they screen a martial arts film.  July 12 is the second Saturday in July and they will be screening Shaolin vs. Wu Tang.  On August 9, they are screening Sword of Doom, a Japanese samurai movie from the 1960s starring Tatsuya Nakadai.

Inframan (sometimes spelled Infra-man and sometimes titled The Super Inframan) was inspired by popular Japanese TV shows of the era but was a Mandarin film produced in Hong Kong (by the Shaw Brothers).  I've mentioned before that I watched Kamen Rider and Kikaida on television in Hawaii as a boy in the 1970s.  Not being sure if I had seen this film when I was a boy, I attended hoping to relive some of my youth.

I'm still not sure if I saw the film as a boy but I think I saw portions of it on KOFY's Creepy KOFY Movie Time within the past year or so.  I don't watch CKMT regularly but sometimes when I get home on Saturday night and SNL is a repeat, I'll watch a little.  The skits by Balrok & No Name frequently fall flat and girls in skimpy outfits can only go so far.

I'm not sure if I would have liked Inframan as a boy but I certainly didn't like it as middle-aged man.  The plot involved some monsters from Inner Earth who are released due to volcano eruptions or something.  They are intent on conquering the surface but Hong Kong has a Science Directorate or something.  One of their agents submits to a procedure where mechanical systems are integrated into his body and he becomes Inframan, kind of cross between the bionic man and Robocop.  For the rest of the film, Inframan has to battle Demon Princess Elzebub's various monsters and goons dressed in bodysuits with skeleton patterns.

I wanted to go to sleep during the film but could not.  The monsters' costumes were pretty cheesy.  The women's costumes were not skimpy enough to hold my attention.

Dana Shun Shuk Yee in Inframan

The next day, I stopped by the 4 Star theater to pick up a discount card.  I had gone there a few days earlier and they were out of the discount cards so Frank let me in and said I could pick up my card that weekend.  Realizing that film festivals would take over several of my next few weekends, I stopped by on late Sunday afternoon with the intention of picking up the card and going home but they don't call me a cinephile for nothing.  The timing was perfect to see Neighbors although I hadn't planned it that way nor did I have any real interest in seeing Neighbors.

I walked into the large auditorium and there were only three people in there.  This was opening weekend for Neighbors so I was later surprised that it was #1 at the US box office in its first week.  During the screening, the three people (I think they were two parents and their grown daughter) walked out.  I believe they were offended by crass humor.

I won't bother to recap the plot except a couple with a newborn have invested their life savings into their new house only to see property values plummet when a college fraternity moves in next door.  After some initial friendship overtures, the two sides declare war on each other.  There were some humorous moments.  I particularly enjoyed the Dress Like Robert DeNiro party.  However, Neighbors was right in the middle; not the funniest film I've seen in awhile nor the worst film I've seen in awhile.

I don't know what it says about the state of cinema today that Neighbors can gross nearly $150 Million in 8 weeks.

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