After being humiliated at a local ceremony, a lord seeks out an old rival who's a master lantern to put aside their differences to make a new lantern for an upcoming festival, but when several local women go missing all roads lead back to the strange method of making the lanterns he's attempting.
Overall, there's quite a lot to like with this one. One of the greatest aspects present is the breakneck story, which moves along at a great pace and keeping things interesting. Right away, we get the initial setup at the village banquet showing their disdain for each other and the desire to win the lantern contest, forcing him to turn to his arch-rival to win the competition. As well, the tyrannical control he has over the prostitutes in the brothel and the jealousy that governs his decisions plays into the continuing nature of the feud lasting throughout the film with each one looking to one-up and humiliate the other. Once they come to realize they've been set up and that everything has been turning them against each other, the story comes together with a surprisingly strong resolution. As well, when the film really lets loose with its grotesque elements, it becomes quite enjoyable. The first stalking in the brothel as well as the subsequent defleshing of the victim is exceptionally graphic and gruesome. The visual of the skin being sliced open and ripped from the still-alive victim in one piece creates an awfully striking visual, and when done in conjunction with the underground caverns and the various tools shown lying around to be utilized later on completes the grimy illusion. Likewise, the various interludes going back to the location showing how the pieces of stretched skin are being made into the lantern itself offers up the kind of unease associated with such a lair. Seeing the area dressed in entrails, dismembered body parts, drying skin pieces and bloodstained equipment creates a truly grotesque atmosphere alongside the graphic acts themselves. Another big positive is the mixture of horror and kung-fu in the film. Though not filled to the brim with such material as is to be expected, the fighting here comes off quite impressive and exciting. The inclusion of the killer's abilities in martial arts adds quite a lot to the abduction scenes as the sight of him dressed as a monkey complete with a skeletal animal mask take on a far more eerie quality than expected, especially the daytime ambush in the woods where the sight of that running around and flipping off tree-branches is quite creepy. The best, though, are the brawls which they continually find themselves in, and by taking place within eateries, the courtyards of their houses and out in the streets of the village the action carries along quite nicely. Even odd interstitial elements like fighting off assassins or seeing the killer take out a squad of random henchmen to set up their suspicions are rather fun, and the extended brawl at the end includes some really fine stunt-work and swordplay included in the hard-hitting fights. This creates a lot to really like in the film as there are some big problems here. The biggest issue is the central premise of the film in that there's no adequate explanation for the lantern festival to be the big comeuppance in their rivalry. Why he needs to commission a lantern to appear at the festival in order to get the last-laugh at him makes no sense, nor is there anything given as to what's going to happen if the true creator of the lantern is revealed. Being that this is the main driving point of the film as for why he and his rival put their differences aside to make the lantern for the festival, not making this piece make sense is all the more troubling. Likewise, the fact that the investigation should've lead the guards right to him without much difficulty speaks to a haphazard investigation method simply to keep the movie going. These elements do manage to bring the film down.
Rated Unrated/R: Extreme Graphic Violence, Language and Brief Nudity.
Action / Horror
Action / Horror
Loading video, please wait...
A psychotic craftsman pits two rival Kung-Fu masters against each other while designing special lanterns from a disturbing source.
Uploaded by: FREEMAN
May 24, 2022 at 08:56 AM