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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

The Flying Guillotine aka "Xue di zi" [Blu-ray]


(Meng Hua Ho, 1975)



Review by Gary Tooze



Theatrical: Shaw Brothers

Video: 88 Films



Region: 'B' (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:45:33.285  

Disc Size: 24,824,709,658 bytes

Feature Size: 24,637,827,072 bytes

Video Bitrate: 24.99 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case inside cardboard slipcase

Release date: August 28th, 2017



Aspect ratio: 2.35:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video



LPCM Audio English 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio Chinese 2304 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 2304 kbps / 24-bit



English, none



Reverse Sleeve featuring Original Hong Kong Poster Art





Description: Esteemed director Ho Meng-hua attained cult status among kung-fu film fans in the West with his wild and wacky martial arts hit The Flying Guillotine. His unique directing approach focused more on the devastating nature of the horrific weapon than the kung-fu fights. One of Shaw's biggest kung-fu stars at the time, Chen Kuan-tai plays the leader of the ‘Flying Guillotine Squad’ a group of hand picked killers, commissioned by the Ching Emperor Yung Cheng, that use a deadly, beheading weapon to carry out the emperor's assassination assignments. It's actually based on a true story. Interestingly, the weapon used in the film was a complete fabrication because in real life, no one ever survived to tell what the actual weapon really looked like.



The Film:

Revered Shaw Brothers director, Ho Meng Hua, spent a year working on this production before it finally saw release in the early months of 1975. All his arduous work and that of scriptwriter, I Kuang and others paid off handsomely. By taking actual historical figures, a legendary death device and weaving them around well developed characters, Ho and company created one of the most endearingly brutal HK action dramas ever made. THE FLYING GUILLOTINE went on to be a huge success around the world as well as spawning numerous imitations. Considered an "exploitation kung fu classic" in America, the film brazenly eschews kung fu movie conventions in favor of a more story oriented production. There are a few fight scenes, but these are not the typical style of HK screen fighting of the time period. The casual staging of the scant few fights appears to be intentional to maintain focus on the weapon itself and subsequent dramatic elements.

Excerpt from CoolAssCinema located HERE

The Flying Guillotine pays more attention to plot, character interaction, and drama than your normal old-school movie. In many ways, this film resembles something from director Liu Chia-Liang, except that whereas Liu generally avoided having carbon cut-out villains in his film, director Hoh Mung-Wa makes Frankie Wai and the emperor pure evil. You love to hate both of these guys, and they both pull off their roles well. Chen Kuan-Tai is the emotional heart of the movie, and it's refreshing to see a kung-fu film with a hero who's more concerned about his wife and child than his honor. Lau Ng-Kei, who plays Chen's wife, is also great throughout, able to provide spunk, as in the scene in which she sidetracks the squad members searching for Chen, as well as scenes of heartbreaking emotion. Ku Feng is, as always, great in his role, making his nervous character worthy of both hate and pity.

The violence level is high, although there isn't that much blood. Tons of people are beheaded, and usually all we see is the corpse flopping around afterwards, legs kicking spasmodically. It's pure camp fun. Costuming is impeccable, but instead of the Chang Cheh-type kung-fu garb, everyone wears more traditional and historically-accurate Ching-era wardrobe

Excerpt from CityOnFire located HERE

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

The Flying Guillotine gets an impressive single-layered transfer to Blu-ray from 88 Films.  It looks bright with rich colors in the 2.35:1 frame. Contrast is strong and the only weakness is a minor softness that is probably inherent in the source. It's clean with no marks or speckles. The quality is consistent with a high level of detail in the film's many close-ups. The source seems quite strong. This Blu-ray exports a surprisingly pleasing HD presentation.




















Audio :

Audio has a linear PCM track at 2304 kbps (24-bit) in both an English DUB or Mandarin with and sometimes pedestrian, English subtitles. There are the Shaw-esque fighting effects - but they seem more effective at the high end than exporting abundant depth. The authentic uncompressed remains flat but is consistent with clear dialogue. The occasionally boisterous score is credited to Fu-Ling Wang (The One-Armed Swordsman) and sounds solid in the uncompressed. The Blu-ray disc is region 'B'-locked.


Extras :

There are none for this release except the existence of a reversible cover (see image below) of the original Hong Kong poster art.



The Flying Guillotine is Shaw Brothers - and it's a very extensive production in terms of costumes, effects. location shooting etc.
 Some bona-fide effort was put into the filmmaking. I've enjoyed the other films that I've seen by director Meng Hua Ho; The Mighty Peking Man and Black Magic, that are both not easily labeled as part of the 'Wushu' genre. The Flying Guillotine is a very good film, appealing as not an overindulgence in Kung-Fu! We can certainly recommend to those keen!

Gary Tooze

August 25th, 2017

More of the 88 Asia Collection on Blu-ray


Black Magic

Black Magic 2

The Bride From Hell

The Enchanting Ghost

The Ghost Lovers


The Oily Maniac

The Seeding of a Ghost

The Dragon Missile

Five Element Ninjas

The Flying Guillotine


Killer Constable

The Mighty Peking Man

The One-Armed Swordsman

Sea Fog

The Spiritual Boxer

The Super Inframan


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