Friday, July 12, 2013

Human Lanterns

Human Lanterns 1982 Directed By Sun Chung Starring Lieh Lo. (1982)
   In a beautiful garden, Master Tan (Kuan Tai Chen) and Lung (Tony Liu) are two high society gentlemen having their annual lantern festival and showboating their kickass prized lamps before a captivated audience. There are a lot of decorative Chinese lanterns used to illicit envy in a society of extremely wealthy and dirt poor.
   Don't expect a ghoulish bloodbath or you will be disappointed, but this film is more rewarding in the final moments than you’d think!  
   Human Lanterns is steeped in the wuxia genre (or Chinese Martial Arts) and is a more reserved effort than the all out freaky-deaky trademark style of the Shaw Bros studio. 
    Tan acts like a total showboat dickhead and constantly tries to upstage Lung. Master Lung goes down the street to see an elderly drunk who takes him over to an old foe named Chao-Chung Fang (played by Shaw Brothers staple actor Lieh Lo), so he can win the lamp contest. I love Lieh Lo, he is an actor that should've gotten the lifetime achievement award for superiority and excellence in the art of character acting.
Chinese Aqua-Lung, my friend... 
   Fang is insulted that Lung wants to use him for his own gain, especially since he slashed his face in battle, years before. Lung tricks him into thinking his old enemy will profit as well. He manipulates Fang and later on takes revenge by donning a ghoulish mask and skinning people connected to Lung. It's hard for me to feel sorry for the pompous Lung and he kinda deserves all the punishment.
   To make up for lost time, Lung takes Fang to a whorehouse to cheer him up, but it obviously doesn’t work. Fang is a hideous sight in that ghastly mask and the way he flips around, it reminds me of the creature in that Tom Savini directed Tales From The Darkside episode "Halloween Candy".
Is that you Rum Tum Tugger?...Meow!
    Fang attacks a hooker and cackles as he peeks at her genitals! The sadistic monster then cracks open her head, pours in silver liquid and pulls off her flesh in big rag sized chunks!!!
   It appears in the daytime in a forest and fights Tan's sister, who wields a sword, but she still gets trapped in a giant sack. He hangs his human skin trophies in a creepy mill.
That fan looks fierce girlfriend!
   The two masters (Tan and Fang) battle it out inside a restaurant, toss water jugs at each other and fly around. Sergeant Poon (Giggle…Gafaw)! is on the case and tries to pin the disappearance of Tan's sister on Lung. The monster is a welcome sight that breaks up the monotony of sword fighting and later gets into a final showdown with Lung and Tan. My favorite scene toward the end has Lung actually seeing Fang's lantern work and he is mesmerized! I thought it would be great if he just said, "Fuck it, it was worth all the trouble for these high quality lamps"!
   If I were to settle in for a generic sword fight flick, I'd be surprised to see it involved a goblin that rips off the flesh of woman! However, the title is Human Lanterns and I'm all geared up for something on the bat-shit crazy level of Boxer's Omen and we don't get that here. There are lots of Shaw Bros motifs missing, no maggots, zombies, vomiting, full bush and besides this, the only straight laced Shaw Bros flick I ever saw was Five Deadly Venoms (which bored me & skunkape to sleep). I guess I'm saying, if they called this Lantern Town instead of Human Skin Lanterns, I would have been less disappointed, but stick it out because it evolves into a commentary on hierarchy and redemption, really I’m not kidding!
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