When an opportune moment of revenge arises for a crazed lantern maker, he decides to make the most of it. The lantern maker (Chao Chun-fang) is asked by his former enemy, Liu Yung, to create some special lanterns for an upcoming festival. As he continues on with his work, Chao Chun-fang, also decides to exact revenge on another man, named Chen Kuan Tai, who had additionally wronged him in the past. This is a story about a man, one who happens to be a lantern maker with a deep thirst for revenge, try and guess what will happen…
Assuming that you can already tell from reading the title, what you are about to witness will either allure you, or send you running for the hills. However before making any further judgement, please allow me to provide you with some examples of what this thick-skinned story entails. You will see people randomly jumping thirty feet into the air, skinning, sword fighting, constant overzealous laughter, and of course a ridiculously stylised horror villain, whilst apparently taking on the appearance of a demented monkey.
Although far from the finest of Shaw Brothers productions, Human Lanterns never ceases to stand out as a rather interesting example from within Eastern Eye cinema. In fact despite its many flaws, Human Lanterns is still a surprisingly fresh breathe of air, especially when compared to the abundance of martial arts flicks from around its time. The horror aspect is easily what allows this film to stick out far from the herd, and even though its theme is drastically underused, this tale still serves it well with a deliciously black twist.
Unfortunately Human Lanterns is somewhat tainted by its exhausted storyline, and rather gawky direction, yet in this case, the positive far outweighs the weak. Other than its jaw-dropping production, and the use of delicious although infrequent gore, what actively drives this rugged feature is its strong cast performance, and vigorous fight sequences.
Human Lanterns is miles off from the perfect blend of horror and martial arts, but its strong effort is still duly noted. If graphic violence or exploitation of women offends you, then avoid this one like the plague. However if you're open minded in regards to martial arts, horror, and Eastern Eye cinema, then this is well worth a watch.
OFLC (Office of Film and Literature Classification) rating: