Human Lanterns (1982) - full transcript

A psychotic craftsman pits two rival Kung-Fu masters against each other while designing special lanterns from a disturbing source.

It's time to go to the banquet, sir.
Please board the sedan chair.

Bring me my wife.

Lung, Tan is always jealous of you.
You have to be careful.

Don't worry.
I hear he has something new to show off.

I'll go have a look.

Greetings, all.

Dear friends,
I've gathered you tonight at this banquet

to make two announcements.

First, the lantern placed before you

was made
by a famous craftsman from the capital.

It took him half a year.

We're still months away
from the New Year's Day lantern contest,

but I'm giving you a preview,
so you'll know what to expect.

I'm really confused, everyone.

Tan has such poor taste.

Such a second-rate lantern
doesn't deserve this amount of boasting.

Don't gloat so much, Tan.

I'll win this year's lantern contest.

- If you doubt me, just wait and see.
- No need to wait.

I know you'll lose.

Tan and Lung are such an odd pair.

They always bicker when they meet.

Big Brother!

We're all waiting
for your second announcement. Hurry up.

I know, Little Sister.

- Go tell the servant to light the lanterns.
- Right.


I now want
to introduce someone to all of you.

Who could it be?

Lung, keep your eyes peeled.
See if you can recognize her.

Mrs. Lung, do you know who that is?

She's a prostitute
from the Red Petal Brothel.

I heard that she and Lung...

It's not important.

Tan, how do you expect me to get up there?

I'll come down to welcome you, of course.


I'm honored
that you agreed to come here, Yen-chu.

I'm a persistent man.

When I want something,
I do everything I can to get it.

The more I'm denied, the harder I try.

Lung, we're both respectable men.
Calm yourself.

I understand now, Tan.

You arranged all this tonight

just to humiliate me.

If that was the case, I'd have to thank you

for making it so easy.

- You...
- Lung.

Lung, the way you two bicker in public
is embarrassing.

It's pointless.

Let's go home.

- Mrs. Lung.
- Mr. Tan.

We just had a little misunderstanding.
It's nothing.

Don't let it bother you.
Allow me to apologize to Lung with a toast.

Allow me.


Cheers, Lung.

This is such good wine.

- Too bad it's soiled by your filthy hands.
- What is that supposed to mean?

You're two of a kind, Tan.

Only you two should drink this wine

because it stinks just like you.

See them out.

Come on, cheers, everyone.

Lung! Wait up, Lung! Listen to me.

I have to go to Lantern Street
to visit Old Man Tsui. Take Madam home.

- Yes, sir.
- Lung! Lung!

Mr. Lung.

It's good to see you, Officer Poon.

Aren't you supposed to be
at Tan's banquet tonight?

- Why are you here in Lantern Street?
- I was at the banquet.

Now I have business with Old Man Tsui.

I see. Please, go ahead.

Stop drinking, Grandpa. Mr. Lung is here.

Mr. Lung.

Mr. Lung.

Listen, Tsui,

I'll pay whatever price

if you can ensure
that I win the lantern contest this year.

The contest is in quite a while.

It's still months away.
We'll talk about it later.

To be honest, sir,

I can't really craft a lantern.

Then who made these for you?

I can't tell you. I can't tell you.

I'm not supposed to tell.

You're pressuring me.

I don't know what to do.

All right.
Never let anyone know that I told you this.

- Fine.
- Come here.

He's in the back.

So it's you!

You're the one who's been making
my lanterns these past two years.

Chun-fang, you really made me look good.

Seven years ago, we fought over Lady Jin.

You forced me to duel you
on Luo Ying Beach and injured me.

I carry this scar
as a reminder of my humiliation.

One day, I'll have my revenge,
and I'll take everything from you!

You must have bribed Old Man Tsui,
or you wouldn't have found me.

- What do you want?
- I want to give you a second chance.

I want the whole town to know
about your amazing craftsmanship.

I want you to move out of this filthy place

and live in luxury.

Listen, Chun-fang,

I want you to make the perfect lantern.

I must beat Tan
in the lantern contest this year.

I chose to live here
in order to forget about the past.

I make lanterns to make ends meet.

- Chun-fang.
- Lung.

Don't tempt me with fame and fortune.
I'm not a tool for your revenge.

You know me well, Chun-fang.

I know Tan even better.
You're no match for him.

Nonsense! Even with my resources
and your craftsmanship?

Forget about the past, Chun-fang.
Let's start anew.

When you finish that lantern,

I'll be the talk of town,
and you'll be rich and famous.

One stone, two birds. What do you think?

All right, I can try,
but you must promise me one thing.

You're not to come here
until I finish the lantern.

I'll let you know when it's done.

Easy enough. It's a promise.

Let's go celebrate our union.

I don't go to those places.

No, you must. Let's go.

Mr. Lung! You're here, sir.

- Jade. Jasmine.
- Come here, girls.

This is a good friend of mine.
Take good care of him.

You'll be well rewarded. Go ahead.

Come on in, sir.

Go ahead, Chun-fang.

Mr. Lung has been waiting for you.

Mr. Lung.

You must have had a lot of fun tonight
to be coming home this late.


Don't be like this, Yen-chu.



You know very well
that pride means everything to me.

Yet you chose to humiliate me in public.

This is not about youl!

Nonsense. Why wouldn't it be about me?

I've spent so much money on you.

All of the brothel's clients

know that Yen-chu belongs to me.

I belong to you? Fine.

Are you willing to take me
out of this brothel and marry me?


what do you say?

You won't do it.

- Then stay out of my business.
- Yen-chu!

Tan is different from you.
He's willing to marry me.

You can't! I won't allow it!

I warn you, you can marry anyone but Tan!

There will be hell to pay if you betray me!

Miss Tan,

are you hunting alone?

The water is nice and clean.
Let's take a bath together.

Don't be shy.

Miss Tan! Miss Tan!


I don't understand men. Why do you
always get jealous over women?

Jealous? Jealous how?

You're not jealous? Are you in love, then?

Love? What a word!

Fooling around has nothing to do with love,

but I have to be the best at everything.

I can't lose to Tan.

Take Yen-chu, for example.
She's nothing but a prostitute.

You lost your cool in public
over a prostitute.

Jin, I can't let Tan outshine me in public.

Otherwise, how can I expect
respect from my peers?

You're too vain, proud and competitive.

Don't you find it all pointless?

You're wrong.
It's not about pride, but fairness.

No, it's all meaningless.

I disagree.

Let's say you're right.

The way you always compete with Tan,

when will this grudge ever end?

When he kneels down before me in public

and admits his defeat at my hands.

What if you're the one who's defeated?

Then I'll just have to kill myself.

I beg of you, don't kill me! Don't kill me!

I'll do whatever you ask.

What is this place?

Why did you bring me here?

I know. You want to get intimate with me.

You want me, don't you?
Come on, let me loose.

It's hard to be intimate
when I'm all tied up. Come on.

Come. Come on.

Come. Come. Come. Let me loose.

I'll strip Lung of everything he possesses.

I'll destroy everything he longs for!

It happened. Lung was furious. He said

that he'd kill Yen-chu
if she ever betrayed him.

Why would Lung want to kill her?

It's because of Tan, of course.

- Let's go!
- I said too much. Me and my big mouth!

All of you, stay here.

Officer Poon is here, sir.

- Bring him up here.
- Yes, sir.

Come on up, Officer Poon.

- Tan.
- Please sit.

My servant already told me
about Yen-chu's disappearance.

- Tan...
- Have a seat.

I know why you're here.

It must have to do with her case.

Yes, rumor has it
you had a run-in with Lung.

It's no rumor. It happened.

Yen-chu was the cause of our argument.

- Tan...
- You must be careful when you arrest him.

He's a skilled fighter.

You're getting ahead of yourself, Tan.
It's too early to talk about an arrest.

There's no evidence that Lung did it.

- Then you have to watch him closely.
- Of course.

How could something like this happen?
It's absurd!

We used to receive three invitations a day,

but we haven't seen one in days.

Very well. If they won't invite me,

- then I'll invite them.
- Lung,

I don't think they'll come.

Why not? Are they all dead?

Don't be angry. People don't want
to bother you. That's all.

Why is that?

Speak your mind, Jin.

Tell me. What have you heard?


Everyone says you're responsible
for Yen-chu's disappearance.

The servant said
he saw Officer Poon and his men

staking out our neighborhood.

Think about it.
Who would dare send us an invitation?

That's ridiculous! I'll go confront them.


Don't go. You'll only make things worse.

I know what I'm doing, Jin.

- Lung.
- Lung.

Officer Poon,
regarding Yen-chu's disappearance,

I'm afraid I can't shed my responsibility.

- I did it.
- Are you serious, Lung?

Don't play dumb, Officer Poon.

If I weren't a suspect, why would you be
staking out this neighborhood?

- Someone informed me that...
- And they're right. I did it.

Let's make one thing clear, though.

- I'm an accomplice, not the mastermind.
- Who's the mastermind, then?

Listen carefully.

- Tan.
- Tan?

Go ask him if you don't believe me.

If he confesses,
then you can come arrest me.

I'll wait for you at home, all right?

Let's go home.

Who's there?

Speak up! Are you a man or a ghost?






Chun-fang! Chun-fang!



- Go ahead, scream.
- Help!

You bitch!
You're even feistier than your brother.

- Why did you take me here?
- Because your name is Tan.

Is that all?

You're Tan's sister. How can I let you go?


Stop being so stubborn,

and I might give you a quick and easy death.

Otherwise, I'll let
the venom come down drip by drip.

Your pretty face and your nice body

will burn inch by inch.

Imagine how painful that's going to be.

Don't you know what's good for you?

You have fair and silky skin.

If you obey me and give me some pleasure,

I might let you go home. Understand?

There's no time to waste.
Let's have some fun.

Spread out and search!

Zhao and Liang, you two follow me.

Cui and Liu,
you search the ravine in the south.

We'll meet here. Search thoroughly.


- Any news? You still haven't found her?
- No, we searched everywhere.

Come with me.

Welcome, sir.

- Is Officer Poon in?
- He's upstairs.


Have you come here for me?

My sister went hunting this afternoon.
She never came back. She's missing.

Damn it! It's one problem after another.

Someone is out to get me, Officer Poon.

If you can't solve this, I'll do it myself.

We'll investigate diligently, Tan.


- You...
- Oh!

Such a tiny jump.

Child's play.

They say trouble follows the vain.

You have a decent reputation,

but you don't value your good name.

Instead, you're always causing trouble.

You're the mastermind behind this.

Let's state the facts.

Yen-chu went missing a few days ago.
My sister also disappeared this afternoon.

Don't you find
that's a bit of a coincidence, Lung?

So what?

The crimes must have been committed
by someone holding a grudge against me.

Don't look at me.
I've got nothing to do with the kidnappings.

Let go.

Gentlemen, if you don't stop fighting now,

- I'll have to arrest you both!
- Officer Poon,

sparring isn't against the law.
Why are you so nervous?

This is a restaurant.
You're hurting my business.

I'd like to reserve
the entire restaurant for the night.

Everyone, supper's on me.

I'll pay for any damage.

Stop! Stop!

Stop, you two!

You're both from respectable families.

Aren't you ashamed
to be fighting in public?

Fine, I'll cooperate, Officer Poon.

- You can bring me the bill later.
- Yes, sir.

My sister's missing, Lung!
Don't think I'll let this go!

I'll put out a ransom. I won't rest
until the kidnapper's apprehended.

One moment. One moment.
Allow me to inform the Master.

Lung! Lung! Lung!


Let go, or I'll kill you!

The worse you can do is to stab me again.

Don't think I won't.

Chun-fang, you come barging in here
without permission.

Explain yourself.

I'm making us even.

How dare you sneak into my home?

So that's why you're angry.

To be fair, I'm paying for this lantern.

I'm entitled to know how it's progressing.

No, I'll let you know when it's done.

Fine. It was my mistake.

I won't go to your place anymore.

Can you let her go now?



Didn't you tell me he was dead?

Why is he here? He scares me.

You can go.

It's him, Officer. It's him.

Stop! Give me a good reason
why you barged into Lung's home,

or I'll have to arrest you.

Save your breath. Just do what you must.

My business with Lung

is none of your concern.

- Take him away.
- Yes, sir.


As a favor to me,
Officer Poon, please let him go.

- Lung... Very well. Let him go.
- Yes, sir.

- Are you all right, Lung?
- I'm fine.

You're fine?

Why did Chun-fang come barging in here?

Those craftsmen are always so eccentric.

He's angry because I went
into his home without his permission.

- That's it?
- That's the truth.

Just like my having nothing to do
with the kidnappings is the truth.

How long will you keep spying on me,
Officer Poon?

I'm just doing my job. Please forgive us.

You should know my patience has its limits.

This way, sir.

One moment, please.


So this is your hideout.

How are you?

It's no wonder I spent years looking for you.

How can you stand such a filthy place?
You've really changed.

- Szu-yi, what are you doing in this town?
- Assassination is my only skill.

It's a big job this time.

You'll never believe who hired me.

Come. Let's have a drink and catch up.

- Tell me what's bothering you.
- I'm worried.

You fight well, my friend.

You have speed and strength

but no accuracy.

Tell me, have I offended you in the past?

It wasn't my intention to kill you.
I made a bet with someone.

I was to leave a scar on your pretty face.

Dream on. I'll give you a scar.

What's your name? Who sent you?

There's no way in hell I'm going to tell you.

Jin! Jin!

Officer Poon!

Lung, you...

Your men are all imbeciles.

They're completely useless!

The government pays you for nothing!

Lung, did you come to me
this late at night just to insult me?

You may be rich and influential, but you
still can't treat an officer this way.

I've been way too patient with you.

What's the point of guarding my house?

The assassin sneaked into my backyard,
and you didn't hear a thing.

- What? An assassin?
- There was more than one.

They lured me out, then kidnapped my wife.

Mrs. Lung!
What does the assassin look like?

I'll tell you.

I scarred the assassin's forehead.
It'll be easy to spot him.

Officer Poon, you have to find my wife.

An assassin? Who could it be?

Don't be afraid. It's a mask.
It's not a real human head.

You must be shocked, Jin.

- It's you.
- That's right.

It's been seven years.
You probably forgot everything.

Why did you take me here?

Because you're Mrs. Lung.

What do you want?
Lung can give you anything,

anything at all. Please, let me go.

Let me go. I beg of you, let me go.

I beg of you, let me go. Please!

- I'm here to see Tan.
- He doesn't want to see you.

You're indeed a topnotch assassin.
Those imbeciles are no match for you.

I came here to report to you, Tan.

Why are your men surrounding me?

Let me ask you, what did you promise me?

- That Lung would die at my hands.
- And what happened?

You didn't kill him.
You've brought me nothing but trouble.

Let's be clear about one thing. I hired you.

No one is to know this secret,

especially not Lung.

So you want to silence me by killing me?

Look at the men around you.
Isn't it obvious?

Let's be honest. You're no match for me.

I'll kill you in round three.

We'll see.

Before you die,
I ought to compliment you on one thing.

Kidnapping Lung's wife was a nice touch.
It's even better than killing him.

Tell me, where are you hiding Lung's wife?

You sent me to lure Lung away
so you could kidnap his wife.

Then you made me the scapegoat.
You're truly cruel.

Round two.

Round three is coming, Szu-yi.


Bury him far from here.

Faster. Faster.

Walk faster.

- Good morning.
- Good morning.

- Good morning.
- Good morning.

Heads! Human heads!

Tons of severed heads!

- Human heads!
- Human heads?

Human heads!

- Step aside!
- Step aside!

Lung, who would have thought
our peaceful town

could witness such carnage?

I don't think you'll be keeping
your job long, Officer Poon.

That's hardly fair, Tan.

No one can catch a kite if there's no string.

These cases are difficult to solve.

Don't take pleasure in others' misfortune.

I recognize this man.
He's the one who attacked me.

His accomplice kidnapped Jin.

There's a mastermind behind it all.

He killed the assassin
so it couldn't be traced back to him.

- That makes sense.
- I agree.

Solve the case promptly, Officer Poon.

It seems it was a mistake to kill Szu-yi.

Lung didn't do it. It was someone else.

That person helped me
by destroying the body.

Maybe it's someone who owes me a favor.

Could this person be on my side?
Who can it be?

Look at all those severed heads.
Who could have done this?

All those heads...

- Chun-fang.
- Don't come any closer.

- I said, don't come any closer!
- Chun-fang.

I told you before.
I'll send you the lantern when it's done.

I'm not here to press you.

You saw what happened in town.

The murderer is like a butcher.

I swore I would never get involved
in the affairs of others.

- Don't meddle in other people's business.
- Why are you being cryptic?

You should tell me what you know.
We're friends.

Don't hide anything from me.

All right, his name was Szu-yi.
He's a second-rate assassin.

I bumped into him on Lantern Street
a couple of days ago.

We chatted for a while in a tea house.

He told me someone
well known in this town had hired him.

The mark was someone named Lung.
He was paid well for the job.

That's what he told me, believe it or not.

So Tan hired an assassin to kill me.



Where are you?


What is this cellar?
I've been looking for you everywhere.

- What is it?
- I wanted to invite you for a drink.

What are you doing down there?

- Making a lantern.
- A lantern?

A good one. Do you want to take a look?

All right.

It's indeed a good lantern, Chun-fang.

Blood! Why is there blood?

What's this material, Chun-fang?

Take a good look. It's not really human skin.

You were the one who told me
the myth of the human lanterns,

but I don't know
the traditional way to skin a person.

Do you find me twisted?

It was just a tall tale
told over a few drinks.

How could you take it seriously?

I didn't, obviously. Human skin is fragile.

How could it be used to make lanterns?

But the blood and the flesh...

You must find it strange.

Old Man Tsui,
you won't like what I'm about to tell you.

Let me go, Chun-fang! Spare my life!

Everyone has secrets,
but you know too many of mine.

- I won't tell a soul.
- You won't?

Your big mouth
has always been your biggest fault.

I don't recall inviting you, Lung.

How dare you barge in here
and hurt my people?

It's time for a showdown.

There's only place
in this world for one of us.

You're a cruel man, Tan.

You even killed the assassin afterwards.

But you forget an old saying,

"You can't fool everyone all the time. "

- Give me back my wife.
- All right.

First, you have to give me back Yen-chu
and my sister, or there's no deal.

I already told you, I've got nothing to do
with what happened to them.

Fine. Since neither of us
is willing to hand over the hostages,

we'll just have to fight it out.

It's time we resolved our
differences once and for all.

I'm going to be
the last person to call out your name.

I'll find Mrs. Lung for you
SO she can visit your grave.

We both know the truth now.

We were both set up.

Mrs. Lung,
I have no need for your husband's money.

I don't need to spell it out.

I'm sure you understand.

Lung used his influence
to take away my lover.

He forced me to duel him
on Luo Ying Beach.

He stabbed me with his sword.

I didn't think you'd change so quickly.

You married Lung for his fame and fortune.

I've endured tremendous pain and hardship
these past few years.

I spent all my time practicing martial arts.

It was all so I could have my revenge.

Do you really think
I'm going to set you free?

Shut up! So it was all for revenge?

No wonder you looked so strange
when you came to our house.

- You still hold a grudge against Lung.
- Yes.

He was the cause of my downfall.

The man humiliated me.

- Now I have to...
- Destroy his family?

Yes. Yes, I have to destroy his family!



What should I do?

What should I do, Officer Poon?

Don't cry. Speak slowly.

- My grandpa disappeared.
- Your grandpa?

Old Man Tsui is a drunkard.

It's not uncommon for him
to fall asleep in the bamboo forest.

That was in the past.

Grandpa is old. He doesn't come work
in the bamboo forest with me anymore.

When he wants to have a drink,
he goes to Chun-fang's place.

- Chun-fang?
- Yes.

No one wants your grandpa's wrinkly skin.

Wait. What did you mean by that?

It's just a rumor
circulating on Lantern Street.

With those women missing left and right,
rumor has it

someone is making human lanterns.

Human lanterns?

- Lung.
- Can lanterns be made with human skin?

An old legend has it that human skin
can be used to make lanterns.

- It's just a legend.
- I've heard it before.

I overheard
grandpa telling Chun-fang about it.

- Really?
- Yes.


What a pretty red mole.

If you don't mind me saying, Lung,
you're digging your own grave.

What do you mean?

Don't you find
your friend Chun-fang suspicious?

Think about it, Lung.

Please excuse me.
I have to go pay a visit to Tan.

Let's go.

Chun-fang? Could it be him?




I have to confront him.




What an exquisite lantern!

It's beautiful.


Chun-fang! Chun-fang!

Jin. Jin.

Chun-fang! Chun-fang!


Stop pretending. I know it's you.

The mask can't conceal your savage nature.

You killed Jin.

Now [I'll kill you!

My life ended seven years ago.

What stands before you now
is nothing but a walking corpse

unable to love, only capable of hate,

incapable of emotions,
incapable of feeling warmth.

Unlike you,
I don't profit from others' misfortune.

People respect you,
yet you show me no respect.

For years, I've endured tremendous pain
in order to make myself strong.

I'm going to destroy you now.

I'll make you understand
how it feels to lose what you love.

I understand now.

You've abandoned swordplay,

practicing instead
this despicable style of martial arts.

You want your revenge
for that duel you lost.

It won't be so easy, Chun-fang.

Officer Poon, this is Chun-fang.
He killed Old Man Tsui.

He's not the only one I killed.
I also killed Yen-chu and Tan's sister.

So you're the culprit, Chun-fang.

- Arrest him.
- Yes, sir.


Tell me one thing.

I've never wronged you.

Why did you attack me?
Why did you hurt me?

Because you're his enemy.
I meant to make things worse.

I wanted to make you two fight

until you were both weakened.

What good would that do you?

It would have turned them into me.

Their fame and fortune
wouldn't have meant anything anymore.

It all would've meant nothing!



Take him alive!

Take him alive! Take him alive!

Dig! Quickly, dig!

Lung! Lung! Lung!


You didn't know I was the one behind it all.

I had fun with Jin before she died.


Lung! Lung! Lung!

All the bills are here.

Fine. Burn them.

They're meaningless now.

Officer Poon.

Good morning, Lung. Are you all right?

Fine. I'm fine.

It's all in the past now, Lung.
Don't think about it too much.

"Fame and fortune are like fading clouds. "
How true.

If I hadn't been so proud and competitive,

Jin wouldn't have been killed so dreadfully.

Officer Poon,
I'm leaving this house tomorrow.

I'll be traveling the world,
seeking enlightenment.

Please help me donate

all of my fortune.
Give my wealth to the poor.

"The ancestors pass on their wisdom.
Their descendants seek enlightenment. "

Officer Poon, please help me.

All right.

Thank you.

Farewell, Officer Poon.