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Not Rated
Copyright 1974 Shaw Brothers
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 'a long time ago'

The Characters:  

  • Mau Tang - Loyal imperial guard until he decides the Emperor is a ruthless and stressed out asshole. (I said "stressed," not "stretched" - sicko.)
  • Yau Ping - Woman who falls in love with Mau Tang at first sight.
  • Sau San - Kid who is the product of Yau Ping falling in love with Mau Tang at first sight.
  • The Emperor - Stressed out asshole. (Look, we already went over this.)
  • Sing Ching - Servant to the Emperor who invents the flying guillotine for use as an assassin's tool. Loses his head to that very invention.
  • Su San Kun - Unprincipled man who is a spy for the Emperor, he uses this power to eliminate people who anger him. Guillotined by Mau Tang.
  • The Horde of Extras - If you were an extra in a martial arts film would you charge the main character?

Buy It!

The Plot: 

When the Emperor of China wants a new weapon all bets are off, though I am fairly certain a particular lineage of the French nobility would have shied away from the chosen device. The flying guillotine is remarkable, Sing Ching's weapon can be thrown a hundred yards, despite appearing to be made of brass and steel. (About ten pounds I would guess.) After it drops around the victim's neck one just pulls the chain and it flies back, carrying the head with it. A special detachment of guards are trained to perfection with the new weapon, once ready the Emperor sets them to assassinating every opponent or dissident at large. Watching a portly man run around without his head like a deceased chicken has a fair amount of entertainment value by the way. Mau Tang is blind to the amusing side of his work, he deserts the elite troop to ease his conscience. Being a hunted man for eternity was preferable to hanging around the palace though, just try putting a power hungry jerk on the left shoulder of a paranoid Emperor. Plenty of good people end up dead thanks to Su San Kun, he is constantly ratting them out as a traitor or some other bad influence. Our hero puts his time on the run to good use, starting a family, working his farm, and when the authorities close in he creates a weapon to battle the flying guillotine. (It looks like a metal umbrella.)

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • When the boss is angry with you try repeatedly smacking your head against the ground, cheers him up every time.
  • Avoid areas where people wearing blindfolds practice throwing sharp objects.
  • The pole vault was invented by Chinese guards deserting from unjust governments.
  • Wanted posters were less useful before photography.
  • Don't teach your kids how to walk in the middle of a road.
  • In feudal China stealing a baby would instantly attract a mob of angry farmers with hoes.
  • Swords can be thrown like spears.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 5 mins - Kinda reaffirms your belief in democracy doesn't it?
  • 15 mins - You idiot, I'd say it is more likely that someone has ordered or paid for her to sleep with you.
  • 36 mins - Huh, must be the door to the "Frankenstein" set.
  • 51 mins - Why don't you invent the plow or something?
  • 62 mins - Sick of eating rice?
  • 72 mins - All of China to search and they actually find your little hamlet.

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note fguillotine1.wav Emperor: "You make one mistake and you lose your head!"
Green Music Note fguillotine2.wav Sing Ching: "What's all this about?"
Mau Tang: "This Buddha, my late mother gave it to me and he stepped on it; he insulted my mother. So I hit him!"
Green Music Note fguillotine3.wav Mau Tang: "We're not humans, just animals! We're only tools. Tools that kill for the Emperor!"
Green Music Note fguillotine4.wav Su San Kun: "All your family is dead by now; my job's to take your head."

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipfguillotine1.mpg - 2.6m
Off with his head!

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