The Flying Guillotine


Action / Drama

IMDb Rating 6.7 10 850


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June 02, 2019 at 06:33 PM



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23.976 fps
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Eli-11 9 / 10

Great story, no really.

I found this on DVD -- some sort of low-budget or bootleg pan-and-scan transfer -- and since it wasn't marked very well hoped it might be the Yu Wang film. Alas it wasn't but this, I suppose the first of the three films involving the flying beekeeping hat of death, stands out on its own terms.

We meet the inventor of the flying guillotine, complete with an origin scene involving a lot of chin scratching. The basic premise is that an evil emperor has a few grudges and trains a crack team of assassins who use the deadly decapitator to carry out his will (complete with a decent training sequence). A few guys on the team get hit in the conscience (with shades of Macbeth) and the story gets moving. A hero emerges, the villains reveal themselves, it's a whole lot more shaded than I expected.

Be forewarned that this isn't a film of great fight scenes. Yu Wang brought those to the flying guillotine genre later. This is an HK action flick with a plot -- more like a grainy, overdubbed Die Hard. Perhaps a shot at emulating Kurasawa or Leone without the budget and great equipment, plus an awesome metalworker with a blade fetish. There are great fights but the first kill without a clean separation of mind and body happens around the 40 minute mark.

You'll also see some nice early wire work -- the assassins bound silently atop buildings in ways that would evolve to Crouching Tiger. The fight scenes are there, they just aren't the whole point of the movie and the guys fight more like real grunts than Bruce or Jackie. The guillotines might here have been like seeing light sabers for the first time.

It may not have the reputation or sense of humour of its successor, aside from the weapon itself you'll barely need to suspend disbelief, but it's heads and shoulders above most other HK films being produced at the time. In fact it's probably the reality-factor that I liked so much and I swear it reminded me of a Shakespearean plot way more than it should have. Add that up with great early effects, terrific editing, and the coolest gadget to behead a censor or two at 100 yards and you've got yourself a winner.

Reviewed by wandering-star 6 / 10

Keep your head in this one...

A paranoid emperor has 12 assassins trained in the use of a new weapon - the flying guillotine, which can take a guy's head off at 100 paces. The weapon is pretty cheesy actually, but in a good way if you like these old Shaw Bros flicks.

The main appeal of this film is that it is plot driven with a good story line, touching on concepts of morality and when to question loyalty.

However, the kung fu is a bit sparse and we don't really see much martial arts until probably 40 minutes in.

Worth watching though, better plot than most of these 70's kung fu flicks even if it isn't exactly packed with kung fu action.

Reviewed by ebiros2 8 / 10

Total classic !

I like kung-fu films starring Chen Kuan Tai, but this one is special even for him. In my opinion, this is the baddest kung-fu movie ever made because of the weapon that's used and how its victims dies one after another under its nefarious power. This first and (imo) best of the Flying Guillotine sagas, has actual plot and a story for a change, and good acting and quality cinematography.

The idea is shocking, and the way its ruthlessly used is even more so, but that's what makes this film extra special good. Basically, 12 assassin ninjas who are trained to use the flying guillotine goes out killing unsuspecting victims one by one from a distance they never suspect attacks to come from. And of course all the people standing around them pee in their pants to see the head get sliced off their body.

Along with Executioner from Shaolin, this is one of the best movie Chen Kuan Tai starred in, and one of the best kung-fu action movie made in the '70s.

Watch this along with its equally high quality sequel - Flying Guillotines II (1978) where it picks up where this story left off.

Highly recommended.

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