1/25/12

Human Lanterns (1982)

Human Lanterns
A couple of days ago I thought I'd check out a Shaw Brothers kung-fu movie for Chinese New Year and it turned out to be one of the best kung-fu movies I've ever seen.

Human Lanterns is similar to a Hammer/Shaw collaboration that I reviewed some time ago called The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires in that it combines high flying kung-fu action with elements of horror.  However, unlike Hammer's contribution to the martial arts genre which basically substituted zombie-vampire things for Chinese guys, threw in a cliche Dracula for good measure and called it "horror," Human Lanterns is actually dark, gritty and bloody.  Both films do have naked breasteses which is always a good thing, though not in great measure.

I know Beasts in Human Skin is supposed to be all about the boobies and blood but before I get to that I have to mention how amazing, intricate and elaborate the set designs are in this movie.  It blew my freakin' mind!  The fight choreography is excellent, as well.  Ok, on to the story.

Two upper-class asses from rival families are constantly trying to out-do each other to gain the admiration of the local villagers.  Each tries to be the best at everything no matter the cost.  When the Lantern Festival approaches, Master Lung knows he must display a lantern which is better than his rival Master Tan's or risk losing face among the villagers.  He approaches a lantern maker he has employed in the past but is told that the most skillful lantern maker is an unapproachable recluse who does not wish to be known.  After some money changes hands, the lantern maker gives up the name of this hermit artisan and Master Lung seeks him out in the wilderness.  When he finds the hidden workshop, he realizes that this great artist is actually an old enemy who had gone into isolation after getting mushroom-stamped with the pointy part of a sword during a duel with the arrogant aristocrat years before.  The woman they fought over is now Master Lung's wife.

I don't want to give everything away, but by the movie's title it should be fairly obvious what's going to happen.  The dirty and reclusive lantern maker agrees to make the finest lanterns ever made as long as Master Lung doesn't return until the lanterns are completed.  Of course, Lung doesn't know they are going to be made out of human skin.

Soon women close to Lung and Tan begin to disappear as the crazy hermit kidnaps them and skins them alive as a way to play both aristocrats against each other and get his revenge against Lung for stealing his woman and shaming him with his steel phallus.  The two arrogant upper-class asses are forced to work together to take on this madman before he can kill any more women.  Ironically, he inflicts suffering and death to create lanterns in the likeness of Kwan Yin, the bodhisattva of compassion, and other Buddhist saints/deities.  He really does make some fine lady-skin lanterns, though.

As I mentioned, this is one of the best kung-fu movies I've seen.  The plot is simple but dark and entertaining, the fighting and sets are outstanding, and the pace of the movie doesn't allow for boredom.  The wire-work is hokey at times but that's to be expected from a Shaw Brothers film or any kung-fu film, and I wouldn't regard that as a negative.  I was surprised by the amount of blood and gore, and how nasty the torture scenes were, but I was disappointed by the limited amount of nudity.  Still, even with the low Booby Rating, this is an awesome movie.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Violence Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Booby Rating: 2 out of 5



10 comments:

Henry said...

I'll forgive you for not focusing exclusively on the breasts and boobies.

R said...

Looks very interesting!

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Looks like an awesome movie simply by the poster art alone... I must get a huge version of that printed.

That Bastard From Bellingham said...

Yeah, those screenshots just sealed the deal. Puttin' this on my list of stuff to watch!

G said...

great looking film

meandmythinkingcap said...

Chinese silence of lamb ? Instead of dress, the transvestite are making human lantern? Sounds awesome

D4 said...

It's because of movies like this that I missed reading these posts. I'm so ready to find this one.

T. Roger Thomas said...

That first clip does look cool

The Angry Lurker said...

This sounds the business....

A Beer for the Shower said...

Ah, yes. Mushroom stamping someone in the face with a sword. I do miss college some days.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...