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血滴子 (1975)
The Flying Guillotine

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 10/07/2005
Summary: Fun, but somewhat disappointing...

Featuring one of the most original and unique weapons in film, The Flying Guillotine is one of the best know Shaw Brothers films of the 70s. Starring the popular Chen Kuan Tai, it tells the story of Ma Tang (Chen) and the Flying Guillotines, a secret assassination squad started by the Manchu Emperor Yung Cheng (Kong Yeung) in order to wipe out his political opponents. After Ma Tang becomes one of the most proficient killers in the group, he starts to have a crisis of conscious about his role in these murders. Although he has sworn undying loyalty to the Emperor, he can't agree with the actions he is taking. After one of his close friends is himself murdered for not completing a task, Ma Tang decides to escape from the group. After he meets and marries a traveling singer, Yu Ping (Lau Ng Kei), he tries to make a new life with his family in the country. However, the Flying Guillotines manage to track him down and will not let him go easily.

Although I was really anticipating seeing this classic again (I think the first time I saw it I was only 8 or 9), I couldn't help but feel disappointed. The story is a little bland, even with the good acting of Chen Kuan Tai and Wai Wang. The character development of Chen's character was also well done, with an interesting element of him hating to kill his former friends, but knowing he could never live in peace until he rid them all. Wai Wang is exceptionally dastardly and uses everyone around him for his own means until he disposes of them with the flying guillotine. Although hand to hand combat is obviously going to be focused on, those scenes that do exist are relatively poorly choreographed and flat. Chen Kuan Tai was known as being a true martial artist with classic training, but you would never be able to tell from his scenes. It seemed that he was holding back most of the time and not fully expressing his character through the combat. Although she was only in Shaw Brothers movies for the duration of her original contract, Lau Ng Kei adds a great amount of grace and beauty to her role.

The Flying Guillotine is a fun movie for its campiness and classic exotic weapon, but an overall mediocre Shaw offering if you're looking for plot and exciting martial arts.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 09/26/2005
Summary: Worth a look

i know a lot of people like this movie, and i do appreciate the depth the story goes into,especially humanising the plight of the characters, making them more than just robot characters.

But i just didn't enjoy this movie as much as i should of. Maybe i was expecting more action. Was it because the pace was a little slow? Maybe i was expecting a "no brainer" movie!!

Though i found this movie average, the development of the characters is the best i have seen from any Shaw brothers movie


Reviewed by: sharkeysbar
Date: 07/25/2004
Summary: Gore fest?

Any Chen Guan Tai film from the 1970s is worth a viewing or two. This one is rather light on for kung fu, but what it lacks in fights it nearly makes up for with decapitations! A story of honour, love and betrayal, sort of standard fare for Shaw Brothers, I felt it never really reached its potential, but still visually quite good. As an aside, the "wanted man" posters..... me thinks the artist was short sighted, haha.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 05/22/2004

***1/2 THE FLYING GUILLOTINE: You can never go too far wrong with Chen Kuan Tai in the lead role, and TFG features a solid story (a little reminiscent of Lone Wolf & Cub) and good production values, with decent action. It's lacking a certain polish that keeps it from being a bona fide classic though. Felt like the Celestial disc might be missing some gore?

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: battlemonkey
Date: 12/21/1999

The emperor is getting paranoid, and orders a loyal subject toinvent an undefeatable weapon. The result is the infamous flying guillotine (did this thing really exist?). Of the soldiers training to use it, Chen Kuan Tai is the best, much to the jealously of the second-best at using it. Second best tries to frame Kuan Tai, who eventually leaves himself when he figures out the emperor is mad and killing innocent people. Kuan Tai starts a new life, complete with wife, but can't escape his past forever. His enemies come looking for him, and he must find a way to defeat the dreaded hatbox with teeth. Some people think it is stupid. I sort of like it. Not a lot of kung fu, but plenty of decapitation and blood-letting.

Reviewed by: hkcinema
Date: 12/08/1999

Not for the weak of heart. The baddie in this film has this device that looks, at first, like a frisbee with a rope attached to it. The trick is, if the frisbee can get over your head, this screen with metal edges drops down over your head, enabling the "thrower" to yank on the rope and take off your head. Mucho blood in this one, but lots of (semi-sick) fun.


[Reviewed by Dale Whitehouse]