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Human Lanterns 
Written by: on January 8th, 2006

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1982
Director: Sun Chang
Cast: Lo Lieh, Chen Kuan-Tai, Ping Ha, Tony Liu, Meng Lo, Chien Sun, Ni Tien

DVD released: May 23, 2005
Approximate running time: 94 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 letterboxed at 2.35.1
Rating: 18
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono 2.0
DVD Release: Celestial/Momentum
Region Coding: Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £9.99


Synopsis: Two local Bigwigs Master Tan (Tai) and Master Wing (Liu) always compete against each other and this year’s lantern festival is no different with each promising to win the Lantern competition. Ego fully out of check tan visits his Lantern maker to make doubly sure that this year’s Lantern will be special and discovers to his surprise that his Lanterns are made by the former lover of his wife (Lieh). Chao, the Lantern maker, still harbours a grudge against Tan for the scar he gave him when fighting and reluctantly agrees to make him another lantern fit to win. Unknown to Tan, Chao is mad and plans an evil revenge with the lanterns made of the skins of Tan’s loved ones. Women begin to disappear and a ghostly figures is seen around the houses of Tan and Wing with both as suspects in the eyes of the police.

Human Lanterns is a mixture of gory horror, mystery thriller and kung fu revenge flick. It has a number of very disturbing moments and no uncut version of the film is available on DVD because of this. Lo Lieh is quite mad, he kidnaps women after dressing in a ghostly mask and stalking them and captures them in a large bag. He then takes them back to his workshop where he tortures them before removing their skin. This is all shown quite graphically.

The heroes of this piece are anything but and the point of the movie seems to be that pride comes before a fall. Consequently elegant macho boastful idiot Tan loses everything as Chao wants him to and is even left scarred like Chao. His wife, his wealth, his mistress, his looks – all gone. These trials of Job are punctuated by fine wire fu, devilment from Lieh and some excellent gore.

Brilliantly shot and undeniably creepy, Human Lanterns is a sick gem.

The DVD:

The film is transferred well and the colours are magnificent and sharp. It is presented in letterboxed form rather than Anamorphic Widescreen so you will have to set your equipment to full frame to play it correctly. The disc is a DVD-5 so the compression lessens the picture quality – a sad fact given how good this print is. The film is apparently lacking only 25 seconds of footage and is far more comprehensive that the R3 release. The sound is excellent with the disgusting sound effects of peeled skin as good as the eerie music.

The disc contains several trailers for other celestial titles released in the uk with Momentum.

Human Lanterns is deliriously sick, sleazy and gory with some kickass action. this disc is the most complete way to see it on DVD. You can see what other goodies Momentum have Here.

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