"Master of the Flying Guillotine"
Directed by Yu Wang.
Written by Yu Wang.
Starring Kang Kam and Jimmy Yu Wang.
Release Year: 1975
Review Date: 7/12/02
When you are unemployed, you have the chance
to check out press screenings of films that show at 10:30 in the
morning. So, my film critic friend Max and I went to a local art
house theater today to check out the re-release of the 1975 classic
“Master of the Flying Guillotine.”
As the name implies, this is one of those
chop-socky Asian films that has a sizable cult following, and much
like “Iron Monkey”, Quentin Tarantino got his hands on an old print
of “MOTFG” and updated the sound, subtitles and music of the film.
What is here is great, great stuff. The plot concerns a Ching
assassin named Fung Sheng (Kang Kam) that loses two apprentices to a
man known throughout the land as The One-Armed Boxer (Jimmy Yu Wang)
somewhere in 1800s Asia. Fung, who looks like he is 100 years old
and is blind, sets out to find this One-Armed Boxer and avenge his
disciples’ deaths. This One-Armed Boxer is the head of a kung-fu
school and is not looking for any more trouble, but by showing up at
a local fight-to-the-death tournament, he exposes himself and Fung
Sheng discovers him at the tournament.
While the plot is anything but complex, it
provides an opportunity to showcase a hilarious set of fighters, led
by Fung (who wields a flying guillotine, which is sort of like a hat
with a set of lethal knives on the inside, taking the head of its
victims clean off), the One-Armed Boxer, “Win Without a Knife”
Yakuma, fighters that use the monkey style (think drunken), the
tiger style, a crazy yoga instructor and a Thai boxer. The sound
effects are so over-the-top that the opening scene, when Fung jumps
through the roof of a wooden hut, literally made me fall out of my
Man, I love old kung fu movie sound
effects. Every single punch, arm thrust, eye gouge, and foot stomp
is so overexaggerated that it never gets old. Neither, then, does
the “Mortal Kombat”-styled tournament in the middle of the film,
where fighters duke it out to the death and when one guy does bite
it, the referee flashes this handfan in this motion that must be
seen to be appreciated. The film is about 75% fighting and 25%
story, so the mix is perfect for someone that wants to sit back and
just watch 90 minutes of ass-whooping.
This one’s not perfect, but it’s got a lot
going for it. Also, you check and see if this is going to open in
your town; it will be showing in San Francisco soon for a limited
two-week run in re-release, but you can always pick it up on video.
Rating: $9.00 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard