Starring : Chen Kuan Tai, Ku Feng, Wai Wang, Kong Yeung
Directed By: Ho-Meng Hua
Produced By : Runme Shaw
© Dragon Dynasty © Arc Entertainment LLC. 2011
Spring of Shaw Season Review – Film No'3
The Flying Guillotine
What do you know ? Where getting through our Shaw films collection with gusto here at K.I.T.G.
Yes it's another Shaw classic up for review and a in-depth look At this rate where be running out of films , as we don't possess the entire back catalogue of Shaw films. In fact our collection is just a pinprick compared to the available films.
So here we go with The Flying Guillotine , a 1975 film from the Shaw studio. Studio leading man Chen Kuan Tai this time stars as a member of a elite group of hand picked Imperial guards who are chosen for their ability in combat .
When the Emperor's aids fail to arrest various opposer’s to the state one aid is chosen to full fill the Emperors wishes or have his head cut of along with his family if he does not succeed.
The man in Question ,Chief Xin Kang (Ku Feng) goes about it in a strange way ,Xin decides by accident to develop a new weapon which combine throwing knives and a hood.
Xin comes up with the Flying Guillotine , a device so deadly you can not escape it's path , or so it seems ( me I would just move left or right as it approaches ) , linked to a long chain the idea is to throw the Guillotine and as it fly towards it's enemy you can stop it above their head ,it in turn drops on their head and you pull the chain to drop a net hood linked to a series of blades. ,as the blades and hood encompass the victims head you pull the chain slicing the head clean of and pulling the device with head included back to you .
Yes a great way to collect heads .
Our inventor Xin shows the device to the Emperor who likes the idea but is not impressed by Xin's ability to use the unit effectively .
Xin suggests the unit can be used at a range of 100 yards if operated by a expert handler .
This gives the Emperor the idea for the elite group of guards who train to effectively use the unit at long range.
Looking at the guards they seem to have a good life , by day they train to use this new weapon , and by night they relax in quite auspicious surroundings , eat good food and generally have a good time ( this Emperor's a good guy) , I think not , within camp the Emperor has a eyes watching , he awards the best students of the Guillotine with Gold,women and more. See terrible Emperor.
Chen Kuan Tai plays ''Ma Tang'' , along with his friend Xu they are the best two students of the unit.
But when Xu becomes suspicious of the goings on around the camp (he has a feeling of being watched) Ma Tang tries to put his mind at ease by saying he's the Emperor he's going to know what's going on, and hey where doing al-right.
Of course things are not all right when the Emperor decides it's time for the group to go on their first mission. With the target being a official who has been labelled as being a traitor.
But as time goes on and more officials are on the list of the fatale flying guillotines Xu becomes sickened by it all. This causes concern for the Emperor who orders Xu's head be taken.
This causes unrest in camp , as it would and Ma Tang decides it's best to try and escape and forget all.
It won't be easy for Ma Tang who has a price on his head (ha ha) ,b ut somehow he manages to meet a women , have a son and live a good life for a short time ,that is until the Flying Guillotines close in on him as they search high and low at the Emperors request.
Flying Guillotine is a good film, it's quite a novel idea for the time and though to be honest has very little actual martial arts in ( except on the odd occasion when Chen Kuan Tai busts a move ) it is a enjoyable film. Yes it's basically people running around chucking these devices at each other to see who can land a direct hit and takes the others head all done with very 70's effects.
It does have a fair bit of the red stuff about it though ,especially when the heads are decapitated.
It won't win any awards for the fight action and to be honest I think without Chen Kuan Tai in the lead it might not have fared as well at the time.
But as a piece of classic Shaw Brothers cinema it's a must see , we viewed the Dragon Dynasty release on region 1 DVD , it comes with both Mandarin and English dubbed soundtracks ,so the purists should be pleased as will the beer and pizza viewers who are to drunk to read subtitles and just want to watch it for the crazy effects.
Of course from a technical point of view ,could a device work , these Guillotines seem to lock on to target ,but how ? And why do each of their victims look in awe as the device comes toward them , I kept screaming move you idiot ,but no they stood their waiting to be beheaded.
So next time your in the park and someone’s playing Frisbee , make sure it's not a Flying Guillotine and if it is move left or right or you may loose your head.
Of note there is a sequel to the film ,which where look at a later date. Also there's another film called Master of the Flying Guillotine with Jimmy Wang Yu made in 1976 which has no relation to the Shaw Brother films.
For a more up to date version see this site for a rebooted version released in 2012 called 'The Guillotines''.
Score out of Ten = 6
Review By Sertes Nake
Review Date : March 19th
* of note ,there seems to be conflict in the actual year of the film, in fact the film was released in February 1975 , yes it may have started production in 1974 , but where going by the actual release date for this review.
© Shaw Brothers 1975 © Celestial Pictures 2003
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Directed By : Ho-Meng Hua
Produced By: Runme Shaw
Action By: Simon Chiu Yee-Ang
Screenplay: Ni Kuang
Chen Kuan Tai
Norman Chu Siu-Keung
Ricky Hui Koon-Ying
Chen Kuan Tai - Ma Tang
Ku Feng - Chief Xin Kang
Wai Wang - Xu Shuangkun
Kong Yeung - Emperor Yung Cheng
Ricky Hui Koon-Ying - Cheng Ziping
Liu Wai - Chief Eunach Zhang
Release Date : 18/02/1975
Composer : Wang Fu-Ling