The Film: Master
of the Flying Guillotine, 1975
Jimmy Wang Yu, Kam Kang, Dhalsim.
A blind assassin’s two disciples are murdered by a one-armed man (as
seen in the previous film, One-Armed Boxer), so he sets off around China to
find the killer. And by find, I mean BRUTALLY DECAPITATE WITH HIS FLYING
GUILLOTINE. He doesn’t much care if you’re the right one-armed man
either, every single one is a mark. That’s a problem because all of the
martial arts fights going on 24/7 have apparently left quite a few men
with only one arm, and soon end up sans head as well.
master of the flying guillotine tracks down the correct one-armed boxer fighting at a
martial arts tournament, and enters to exact his revenge.
Good: It’s a classic.
other martial arts films that foolishly tried to introduce
foreign matter into the film (like well-developed characters, love
interests, and semblance of a plot) this one’s smart enough to know that you’re simply there to
see the fights. So the film is crammed to the brim with nothing but
fight after fight after fight, with barely a few minutes to rest in
between each one. It all culminates with a massive martial arts
tournament which shows all kinds of martial arts forms facing one
another. The choreography and direction by the legendary Jimmy Wang Yu
(whose Chinese Boxer
is generally credited as the first to kick off the martial arts craze
in the first place) is top notch, adding a bit of fantasy to liven
Flying Guillotine itself is a weapon that was supposedly
in real life by
Emperor Yeung Jung’s assassins, although no actual weapons were
found, just stories and drawings. It’s real here, though. It’s
a bladed hat attached to a chain that’s large enough to
fit over a
man’s head. You throw it out and over someone’s head and
give it a nice
gentle tug, and back it comes with the guy’s head in
tow. It’s easily one of cinema’s greatest weapons.
a Look: Of course. Grab some beers and some friends to reenact the fight scenes with and you’ll have one helluva night.
Anecdotes: You’ve likely already heard the
theme music in this film, as Tarantino used it in the House of Leaves scene in Kill Bill.
You know what piece I’m talking about- that awesome,
threatening, pulsing drone.
Fighter fans will be surprised to see how much of the game was taken
directly from this film. Not only the idea of a big one on one martial arts
tournament, but whole characters are lifted from fighters in the film.
Chun-Li, Sagat, Oro and most blatantly Dhalsim are all taken from here.
Dhalsim, for example, is an Indian fighter who has the power to stretch
out his arms… and while he doesn’t breathe fire he does throw it at
Cinematic Soulmates: One-Armed
Boxer, One-Armed Swordsman, The Crippled Masters.