Human Lanterns (Shaw Bros., 1982) D: Sun Chung, w/ Tony Liu, Lo Lieh. Rating: NNN; DVD package: NNN
That three-n rating is strictly for fans of vintage Shaw Brothers lunacy. It's all here except the bad dubbing. This is a handsome, newly struck print with good subtitles and no English track. Otherwise, we've got broad acting, bad wigs, sword fu, wire fu, mystic fu and hopelessly fake kung fu. This being a horror movie, we've also got bizarre lens work, gaudy lighting out of Mario Bava and a score ripped (possibly literally) from Hammer Films.
Somewhere in old China, two rich guys, Lung and Tan, loathe each other. They're both hung up on the same high-end hooker, and each is determined to crush the other in the upcoming lantern contest. Lung hires the town's best but grudge-crazed lantern-maker, and there's an assassin lurking in the dark. Meanwhile, some nutbar in a mask is dragging women to his secret underground lair and skinning them to make lanterns. A Grand Guignol finale ensues.
Somewhere in all this is an actor named Shaw Yin Yin who had a career because she'd take off her clothes and who lost it because someone called her a Communist agent. It's a strange story, and she tells it well in the extras.
EXTRAS Shaw Yin Yin interview, skin-peeling alternate take, more. Widescreen. Mandarin audio. English, Spanish subtitles.