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The Flying Guillotine (1975)
"Xue di zi" (original title)

 -  Action | Drama  -  October 1981 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 392 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 6 critic

The Emperor's armies have developed a new weapon: a thrown blade that can remove someone's head from long distance. As the paranoid Emperor begins decapitating anyone he fears might be a ... See full summary »

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Title: The Flying Guillotine (1975)

The Flying Guillotine (1975) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
Kuan Tai Chen ...
Feng Ku ...
Xin Kang
Hung Wei
Wu Chi Liu ...
Yu Ping
Ti Ai
Wei Tu Lin
Yue Wong
Yang Chiang ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ling Chiang
Norman Chu
Yao Ko Chu
Han Chou Ho
Tu Hung Hsi
Ricky Hui
Wei-ming Kuo
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Storyline

The Emperor's armies have developed a new weapon: a thrown blade that can remove someone's head from long distance. As the paranoid Emperor begins decapitating anyone he fears might be a threat, his guard Mau Tang becomes disillusioned with the excesses of his master. He leaves his post and takes up the quiet life of farming and raising a family. Eventually, though, his past catches up with him, and he must find a way to fight the flying guillotine if he is to save his head. Written by Jean-Marc Rocher <rocher@fiberbit.net>

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Action | Drama

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October 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Guilhotina Voadora  »

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Followed by Palace Carnage (1978) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great story, no really.
13 August 2002 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

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.


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