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Xue di zi
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The Guillotines (2012) More at IMDbPro »Xue di zi (original title)

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The Guillotines -- From the director of the Infernal Affairs trilogy, The Guillotines is a secret assassination squad sworn to eliminate all who oppose the Emperor.
The Guillotines -- An elite crime-fighting unit in the court of the Chinese emperor relies on flying swords to defeat their enemies.


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Release Date:
14 June 2013 (USA) See more »
An elite crime-fighting unit in the court of the Chinese emperor relies on flying swords to defeat their enemies. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
5 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A Nutshell Review: The Guillotines See more (13 total) »


  (in credits order)

Xiaoming Huang ... Wolf
Ethan Juan ... Leng
Purba Rgyal ... Chentai
Tian Gao ... Hutu
Yi Wei Zhou ... Buka (as Zhou Yiwei)
Boran Jing ... Shisan
Peng Guo ... Su

Yuchun Li ... Musen

Yu Wang ... Gong-E (as Jimmy Wang Yu)
Li Meng ... Bai Lan (as Vivien Li)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Shih-Chieh Chin ... Wan Jiang (as Jin Shijie)
Sofia Gonzalez ... Walla Child (voice)
Wai-Keung Lau ... Yongzheng

Kenzie Pallone ... Walla Child (voice)
Stephy Tang

Zhang Wen ... Qianlong

Shawn Yue ... Haidu

Directed by
Wai-Keung Lau  (as Andrew Lau)
Writing credits
Oi Wah Lam  (as Aubrey Lam) &
Joyce Chan  &
Yuet-Jan Hui  (as Jojo Hui Yuet-Chun) and
Peter Tsi  co-writer &
Junli Guo  co-writer &
Koon-nam Lui  co-writer (as Philip Lui)

Produced by
Peter Ho-Sun Chan .... producer
Ellen Chang .... administrative producer (as Ellen Cheung)
Simon Chen .... co-producer
Siu Kin Cheung .... line producer
Guoqing Gu .... executive producer
Lorraine Ho .... administrative producer
Mei Hong .... co-producer
Qin Hong .... executive producer
Yuet-Jan Hui .... producer (as Jojo Hui Yuet-Chun)
Peter Lam .... executive producer
Wai-Keung Lau .... producer (as Andrew Lau)
Yao Lu .... line producer (as York Lu)
Peter Poon .... co-producer (as Peter Eugene Poon)
Teng-Kuei Yang .... executive producer (as Tengkuei Yang)
Zhi-Guo Yang .... executive producer (as Yang Zhiguo)
Jing Zhi-Gang .... co-producer (as Jing Zhigang)
Li Zhou .... executive producer
Original Music by
Kwong Wing Chan (original score)
Cinematography by
Yuen Man Fung (director of photography) (as Edmond Fung)
Film Editing by
Wai Chiu Chung  (as Azrael Chung)
Production Design by
Kenneth Mak 
Art Direction by
Sai-Wan Lau 
Costume Design by
Dora Ng 
Kui Zhao 
Makeup Department
Mark Garbarino .... special makeup effects artist
Production Management
Hong Tao .... production executive
Ada Foo Yeuk-Jing .... production executive (as Ada Foo)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Fei Wong .... first assistant director (as Wong Fei Fei)
Art Department
Songbo Wang .... props
Bo Zhang .... concept artist
Sound Department
Kinson Tsang .... sound designer
Special Effects by
Geneviève Coulombe .... conversion
Marc-Olivier Parent .... special effects technician: Vision Globale
Visual Effects by
Mathieu Archambault .... compositing supervisor: Vision Globale
Daniel Boivin .... compositor: Vision Globale
Mylene Brisson .... lead stereoscopic conversion artist
Dominique Chartrand .... stereo compositor
Dominique Chartrand .... stereographer
Maxime Dontigny .... rotoscope artist: Vision Globale
Amélie Dubois .... compositor: Vision Globale
Maxime Ferland .... stereo compositor: Vision Globale
Lisa Funkel .... compositor: Vision Globale
Patricia Gaumond .... compositor: Vision Globale
Emanuel LaFrance .... compositor: Vision Globale
Maxime Lemieux .... stereo compositor
Jacques Levesque .... visual effects supervisor: Vision Globale
Jeremie Lodomez .... compositor: Vision Globale
Viviane Lévesque Bouchard .... compositor: Vision Globale
Jean-Philippe Marchand .... visual effects
E.W.Y. Tang .... stereoscopic coordinator
Alexandre Tremblay .... compositor: Vision Globale
Alexandra Vaillancourt .... visual effects line producer: Vision Globale
Emily Vaillancourt .... compositor: Vision Globale
Victor Wong .... visual effects: Nova VFX
Jun-Chi Chan .... assistant action choreographer
Siu-Lung Ha .... assistant action choreographer
Ping Han .... assistant action choreographer
Tat Chiu Lee .... action choreographer
Camera and Electrical Department
Sui Hung Chow .... gaffer
Editorial Department
Stéphane Ma .... assistant colorist

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Xue di zi" - China (original title)
See more »
Rated R for strong violent content
112 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »

Did You Know?

Factual errors: In one scene where soldiers are firing muskets, bullets can be seen flying through the air, with and without a 'tracer' effect. As well as the fact that tracer bullets were not invented until the 20th Century, a bullet cannot be perceived in flight if fired from a gun at lethal velocity.See more »
Daofeng pian lengSee more »


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22 out of 34 people found the following review useful.
A Nutshell Review: The Guillotines, 27 December 2012
Author: DICK STEEL from Singapore

Sure, we'd need an upgrade or two. After all, this is the age of digital effects, so the guillotine weapon is now completely CGed with a bit too much information, showing the implausible tech wizardry that goes on inside the weapon, now resembling a sickle-sword in two parts, one that contains the revolving, spinning wheel that hooks onto one's neck, extends a couple more mean looking blades, before a yank of a chain decapitates one's head. Do we get to see the full works? Yes, despite some censored bits, but considered that the best demonstration of the weapon comes in the first ten minutes, that's all about what you can see of a film whose title is the weapon. Bummer.

With no less than having six writers involved, you'd think at least one of them had the sense to make the utilization of the weapon a more frequent point in the film, especially when we have seven characters in a team, all of whom take up fanciful titles like a basketball team, operating like a dedicated SWAT platoon, headed by Leng (Ethan Juan). The story turned out to be convoluted, a classic case of having too many cooks involved in the brewing of the broth, and with desire to help director Andrew Lau concoct an Infernal Affairs equivalent of a martial arts story complete with twists and turns hinged on loyalty, brotherhood, and a whole lot of hidden agendas.

Emperor Yongzheng has the crack Guillotines team set up as a secret underground army of his to wipe dissent amongst the populace, and this continues during the reign of his son Qianlong, who is adamant in embracing modern technology and weaponry, and also to wipe this dark episode of a blot on his dynasty's rule. To do so, he has a sworn group of those whose astrological star signs are aligned to his, whom his father had dispersed through various arms in the government, such as Du (Shawn Yue), an Imperial agent, and even Leng himself. The main antagonist to his dynasty is Wolf (Huang Xiaoming), the head of the rebel Herders gang, who is Han and going around rousing support from the oppressed and disgruntled, and soon enough we have Leng and his Guillotines open the film with a big action sequence that may just be the final entertaining fight you'd see in the movie.

That's because with the embrace of guns and cannons, which boasts a far greater reach that the Guillotines infamous ability to kill within 10 steps (only), Qianlong is also keen to have new toys, and to do so, schemes to justify them while at the same time rid his rule of those who had served him, and his father, well. Opportunity comes when Leng's teammate Musen (Li Yuchun), who is also daughter of the Guillotines chief (played by the legend Jimmy Wang Yu in a non combat role, unlike in Wu Xia) gets kidnapped by Wolf, and during their rescue mission, has Du unceremoniously tagged along their quest.

Fine so far? Great, because everything else that came after is more talk than action. Soon we'd see Leng being more of a brooder than a man of decisive action, as each of the major characters begin to reveal true intentions, centered around what it means to be sworn to loyalty and brotherhood, yet being in a fix when required to perform execute someone else's dirty intent. There's opportunity for gratuitous massacre on screen just to up the body count, as the Guillotines crack team become more caricatures as the narrative moved along, rather than the feared team that operated in the shadows.

There's also a lot of The Last Samurai in this, given the very obvious guns and cannons versus sword fights and primitive weapons employed by the masses, in what would be an emperor's degree to wipe his enemies, that by the time this rolled out you'd know how everything would end, since Qianlong is after all very much one of the longest reigning monarchs in Chinese history, and all fantasy of rebels rewriting that, is zilch. The entire second half of the narrative also had Leng rescued by the enemy Wolf, and brought to see the light on what is the true meaning of peace and harmony, when living amongst those whom he had once sought to silence with his deadly spinning wheel at the drop of the hat through a decree by the courts.

Ethan Juan probably had it in his contract to shed a lot of tears and bawl like a crybaby in this one, while Shawn Yue, with Infernal Affairs tucked under his belt, performs in a similar capacity, albeit this time in a medieval get up. Huang Xiaoming's role was the most curious in the film, being almost messiah like, the chosen one seeking a way to lead his people out of misery, preaching his brand of politics and revolt through the many pockets of Han community still scattered around, and predicting his own untimely demise in what would be a necessary sacrifice he had foretold to bring about reconciliation. Even his make up and costuming looks traditionally messiah-like, although he held his own when non-violence doesn't seem to sway ideals.

It's probably about time that martial arts films inspired by those of old, stick to what made them genre in the first place. Nobody's quibbling if there's a solid story, but in trying to be intellectual and artificially raising philosophical examination, The Guillotines becomes a tired exercise attempting too hard to achieve something more cerebral, forgetting its entertainment aspect, and what had made its namesake famous in the first place, akin to the movie's Qianlong in attempting to wipe out what is remarkably cheesy in its mythos after having to ride on the goodwill of the franchise's coattails to have this made.

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