Friday, May 27, 2022

Human Lanterns – 88 Films (Blu-ray)

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1982
Director: Chung Sun
Writers: Kuang Ni, Chung Sun
Cast: Tony Liu, Kuan Tai Chen, Lieh Lo, Ni Tien, Linda Chu, Hsiu-Chun Lin, Meng Lo, Chien Sun

Release Date: June 7th, 2022
Approximate Running Time: 99 Minutes 2 Seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: NR
Sound: LPCM Mono Mandarin
Subtitles: English
Region Coding: Region A,B
Retail Price: $29.95

"When an unbalanced craftsman decides to get revenge on two Kung Fu masters by creating special lanterns constructed from the human skin of their dead relatives, all hell breaks loose in this gruesome tale of bloody retribution." - synopsis provided by the distributor

Video: 4.25/5

Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, “HD transfer from original negative.” 

Human Lanterns comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.

Disc Size: 42.3 GB

Feature: 23.9 GB

The source used for this transfer looks great. Colors, image clarity, and black levels are strong throughout.

Audio: 3.25/5

This release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in Mandarin, and included with this release are removable English subtitles. Though the dialog comes through clearly, there are times that this track lacks depth, and there are some sibilance issues.


Extras for this release include a theatrical trailer (1 minute 33 seconds, LPCM mono Mandarin with removable English subtitles), an interview with actor Lau Wing titled The Ambiguous Hero (51 minutes 11 seconds, LPCM stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an interview with actress Linda Chu titled The Beauty and the Beasts (14 minutes 39 seconds, LPCM stereo Chinese with removable English subtitles), an archival interview with actress Susan Shaw titled A Shaw Story (13 minutes 48 seconds, LPCM stereo Chinese with non-removable English subtitles), an audio commentary with Kenneth Brorsson and Phil Gillon of the Podcast on Fire Network, reversible cover art, a double-sided foldout poster, a limited edition slipcover and twenty-four page booklet with an essay titled Splicing Genres with Human Lanterns written by Barry Forshaw.


Though the Shaw Brothers are most remembered for their martial arts films, Specifically, their Wuxia film. When it comes to their contributions to the horror genre, these films are not your run-of-the-mill horror films. A case in point is Human Lanterns, a film that is just as much a horror film as it is a Wuxia film, combining the best of these two genres.

From its opening moments, Human Lanterns establishes a foreboding tone that becomes bleaker as the narrative reaches its climax. The premise of a craftsman that uses human flesh to make lanterns is full of gruesome possibilities, and Human Lanterns fully exploits this premise for all its worth. Needless to say, there’s never a shortage of creepy atmosphere in Human Lanterns.

The cast members all give great performances, particularly Lieh Lo (King Boxer) in the role of Chao Chun-Fang, a renowned lantern craftsman. He delivered an amazing performance where he fully immersed himself in his character's madness. That said, his performance is the heart and soul of Human Lanterns.

Though Human Lanterns is most known for its horror genre elements, when it comes to its martial arts set pieces, Human Lanterns more than delivers. With the inventiveness of martial arts set pieces being one of Human Lantern's greatest assets.

From a production standpoint, there is not an area where Human Lanterns do not deliver and then some. The premise is superbly realized, with a well-executed narrative that perfectly balances action and exposition moments and a finale that lives up to everything that preceded it. It should be noted that the score features a music cue from Daimajin. Ultimately, Human Lanterns is a highly entertaining horror/martial arts hybrid that lives up to its name.

Human Lanterns gets a great release from 88 Films that comes with a solid transfer and an abundance of insightful extras, recommended.

Written by Michael Den Boer

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