Superriders Against The Devils (1976)

Directed by: Lin Chung-Kuang
Written by: Li Chuan
Producers: ?
Starring: Li I-Min, Wen Chiang-Long, Ku Kwan, Chang Feng, Han Chiang, & Chou Chung-Lien

Featuring the Japanese tokusatsu superhero Kamen Rider created for TV and in manga form by artist Shotaro Ishinomori, its apparent PanAsia appeal was spotted by the Tung Shing Film Company who made a deal with the Japanese production side of things and rented sets and costumes from for their partial re-shoot of the feature movie Kamen Rider Versus Shocker (made in 1972 and consisting of three short episodes, two of which were remade by the Taiwanese crew here). Casting local actors Lee I Min (Mystery Of Chess Boxing, 7 Grandmasters) Wen Chiang-Long (Mars Men), the team already had experience crafting a cut and paste production as they were at it the year before with The Super Riders V3 and in also 1976 came The Five Of Super Rider (making the most out of the rental period?). So presented as Superriders Against The Devils, featuring already existing action from 1972, it quite skillfully re-stages scenes and successfully matches footage. Plus, rubber kaiju monsters and fighting is fun.

Superriders Against The Devils is about young athlete Feng Su Tong (Li I-Min) who is kidnapped by an evil organization called Shocker. Putting him on an operating table and preparing to turn him into a superhuman cyborg that will obey Shocker's will, Feng escapes with newly acquired, acrobatic powers but with his humanity intact. Now able to transform into Kamen Rider, he has to dispatch rubber monsters and skeleton pajamas henchmen one by one but is aided by fellow masked hero (Kamen Rider 2 if you will, played by Wen Chiang-Long) as they try and prevent Shocker from taking over the world.

Promoting it and introducing it as a follow up of sorts to Inframan in the German version while also cutting it down to 73 minutes, Superriders Against The Devils is therefore very streamlined as it deals with Feng's origin story going from mere mortal (well, elite athlete really according to strangely subliminal cutaways) very swiftly and the film also makes a case for the fact that every ludicrous idea is allowed and we're all in in for the type of fun that makes adults feel like kids. Shining a light on Feng (it looks like he's about to get a killer tan) as the main tool of transforming him, set in colorful laboratory environments, subsequent hunt by The Brotherhood Of Satan as they're after a crucial formula and tons of fighting, this is the free for all, very Japanese universe you buy into or you simply do not. You should.

Because no one can claim this is a massively honed effects- or fighting showcase as the many quarry set brawls are soft, repetitious, the motorbike chases consists of stuntmen riding round and round trying to avoid each other but because it's literally within the Kamen Rider Versus Shocker framework the Taiwanese re-do works very well. Despite little in the way of memorable fight choreography, it's the fighters themselves that become the highlight with Kamen Rider obviously being a grasshopper of sorts and opponents are so random in their mutant like form (outstanding design award goes to a flying bat winged creature that shoots projectiles. One of the few effects here). So after a while you give in and enjoy that this is the universe in motion you're given and boy are you grateful.

With so many outlandish moments cut into the film and re-staged with local actors, coming from a world of IFD and Godfrey Ho, no wonder Lin Chung-Kuang's work comes off as being pretty expertly executed but that's because it also is. There's seamless transitions between pre-suit scenes to prior Japanese action footage and the use doubles is tight because the Taiwanese crew have carefully picked locations, replicated the lighting scheme via rented production materials and it's one of those cut and paste productions that actually DOES fool you. The distraction isn't the presence of an army of rubber kaiju that explode upon defeat and all those shots of Kamen Rider's spinning belt and epileptic animated rays coming at ya. No, you can look at Superriders Against The Devils and still miss where the early 70s end and 1976 take over.


reviewed by Kenneth Brorsson