Saturday, August 15, 2009
Day 211: Human Lanterns (1982) - Rank 4/5
I've always found it to be an odd trend that the hokiness of a kung fu flick is in direct proportion to its enjoyability - or at least as far as I'm concerned. So when I'm greeted with soaring action (that phrase is meant to be as literal as possible) and human sacrifice, well, by all means layer on the corny plot twists and overzealous emoting.
Two warring noblemen find themselves in a heated argument (and battle) early on over who will submit the greater lantern during an upcoming festival (scarcely a masculine title the two are vying for). Tan (Kuan Tai Chen) already has an impressive lantern ready for submission. Intimidated, Lung (Tony Liu) decides to enlist the help of former, embittered rival turned lamp maker Chao (Lieh Lo) for help. Chao's lanterns are heralded as being unequalled, for he make them through a "secret" process, and as he work's on Lung's lamp, a subplot arises about a masked man who abducts women and peels their skin off. If you don't see the great "reveal" coming, then clearly you've got issues.
This was a guilty pleasure to a great degree, for not only do you have fun, stylized action scenes, but they're interspliced with moments that seem more appropriate for either a Fulci or Argento film. The direction ain't half bad either. While it's no "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (or any other martial arts film qua sweeping epic), it is an entertaining means to killing an hour and a half.
Watch the Trailer