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Human Lanterns (2008)

Tony Liu , Chen Kuan Tai , Sun Chung  |  Unrated |  DVD

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Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Swordplay, savagery and blood-chilling thrills reign supreme in this outrageous mixture of martial arts and the macabre from Shaw Brothers! Two rivals, one rich and the other poor and impoverished, enter an unholy pact to win an annual lantern-creating contest in their village; however, the terrifying secret behind their remarkable creations lies within the supple flesh of local maidens, who are disappearing at the hands of a demonic assailant! Now featuring shocking scenes too extreme for its Asian DVD release, this unflinching action-horror masterpiece is now finally available to American audiences to enjoy full strength and full throttle!

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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Sun Chung's masterpieces June 6, 2008
By morgoth
Anthony Lau Wing and Chen Kuan Tai star as rivals in this Sun Chung Shaw Brothers flick from 1982. There's a lantern contest coming up, and Lau Wing hires expert lantern maker Lo Lieh to help him win the contest. Suddenly a new character comes in, a masked man who kills women in really sick ways and then strips their skin off. It's made clear early on who the killer is, so the question becomes, why is he doing this? He's setting Lau Wing and Kuan Tai against eachother by killing their women, and he has a great time doing it. The movie starts out pretty good, but it gets a lot better as it goes along.

I can't say enough good things about this movie. The mood, fights, acting, gore, cinematography... everything about it is good.

There's plenty of action , and the choreography is very very good. And the acting and directing job greatly enhance the fights.

Also starring are Venoms Sun Chien and Lo Meng, and some very lovely women.


The picture quality is good on the Image DVD, though not as good as a Dragon Dynasty or Media Blasters Shaw Brothers release. Sound is good and the subtitles are well written. Chinese language only. From what I have heard this is the best version of this movie.

Special features include a 14 minute interview with actress Shaw Yin Yin and an alternate take for the skin peeling scene. Shaw Yin Yin has a small role in the movie, but it's a very good interview. And the alternate take of the skin peeling scene is pretty sick. Good stuff.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars martial arts / macabre July 17, 2008
One of the finest martial arts films in the Shaw Brothers retinue. The storyline is profound, cohesive, well paced, and utterly teeming with allegorical allegations of just why it's unwise to push people too far. Fantastical, realistic, and superbly filmed. Human Lanterns is a film for the horror/martial arts eccentric. The action is superbly shot. The atmosphere is positively spooky. Lo Lieh (the main villian) relishes his role second to none of the past greats in the horror genre. There are no bars held in this martial arts nightmare. The cinematography is lavish and very beautiful. The acting is spot on and the dialogue delivered perfectly. The best part is the action of course and the continuity in the fight scenes are definitely some of the finest you'll see in a Shaw Brothers film. A must have for the more serious/grimmer Shaws fan. It is a shame Sun Cien (venoms star kicker) was not made better use of in the film, but Lo Mang's cameo, is fully satisfying. The attitude! This film exudes of it. If your a Chen Kuan Tai (southern china king boxer when Shaws discovered him), Liu Yung, Lo Lieh, or Lo Mang fan, you'd simply be foolish not to purchase this film. Probably my favorite Shaws film and I possess over 400 of them. For any further info on this film, any Shaws films, or any japanese/chinese cinema just drop by kungfucinema. You'll get it. There may be some who disagree with this review but this film will certaintly hold anyone's attention from beginning to end. If you do like this film, look for The Bloody Parrot, a Celestial Pictures R3 release imported from Hong Kong. Another martial arts macabre masterpiece.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Have you ever heard a movie title quite so compelling? Two words that should never find themselves put directly next to each other: human and lanterns. The pairing just feels disturbing and wrong-- after seeing this movie however, few things have ever felt so right(I may even look into making a few of my own LOL!). The story centers around two wealthy, proud and competitive heads of a village by the names of Tan and Lung, preparing for the upcoming lantern festival. Both want ot make sure that their lantern is the absolute best and therefore the talk of the town. Enter a reclusive lantern craftsman with the knowledge of how to make the perfect product-- and willing go to whatever cruel lengths necessary for the human flesh needed in their creation. As loved ones close to both competitors begin mysteriously disappearing, foul play is suspected of each other, and the rivalry grows out of control... though are either one truly responsible? Human Lanterns is classic Shaw Brothers material, superbly directed by Chung Sun(the man behind the even better film, The Deadly Breaking Sword), filled with lavish sets, an excellent musical score, and a fantastic cast. Chen Kuan-Tai(Crippled Avengers, Challenge Of The Masters, and many other great films) plays Tan, the more mature and reserved of the rivals, while Liu Yung plays Lung as a much more vain and even borderline despicable competitor. The real star of the show is actually Lo Lieh(too many good movies to name!) as the demented lantern maker who takes particular glee in the live skinning of his victims (easily one of my favorite performances from his legendary career). Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Shaw Brothers Genre-Bender!!! August 29, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This offering from the famed Shaw Brothers is a clever mixture of martial arts action and what could be considered early torture-porn horror (as a girl is skinned, her flesh flayed to make ahhhhh, oh--you read the title of this film, right?). The film stars Shaw favorites Liu Yung, Chen Kuan-Tai, and Lo Lieh. Shaw Brothers aficionados will recognize Sun Chien (in a non-fighting role) and Lo Mang of Five Venoms fame. Although there aren't many fights in the film, the plot and acting are top-rate. As always with a Shaw film, a lot of effort is put into the look and style of the film. Costumes are lively and lavish as always, and the fighting, when it does come, is the excellent fast-paced and flashy choreography we've come to expect from the films produced by Shaw during the late 70s and 80s (the fighting was not always the best in EARLIER Shaw films, but Shaw's sense of style, drama and showmanship always elevated even their early material to the status of classics). If you are a die-hard fan of straight kung-fu action, you may only moderately enjoy this film. But if you can open your mind to the fantastic and creative world of the Shaw universe presented here, you will find this a very enjoyable ride.
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