Master of the Flying Guillotine

One of my favorite movies these days is Master of the Flying Guillotine (1975) for two simple reasons:

  • First, the characters and fight scenes are awesome. The evil, blind imperial assassin who has a “flying guillotine” in his arsenal of weapons is a tried and true badass. More than that, the fighting tournament towards the middle of the film (which lasts about 15 minutes) features some of the most entertaining fight scenes in cinema. The tournament showcases a host of different martial art styles, weapons, and other assorted moments of fun-filled violence. You can get a good sense of these scenes from the trailer at about a 1:12 in.
  • Second, the underlying paranoia of foreigners in this film is fascinating. The characters that ultimately team-up with the “Master of the Flying Guillotine” against the one-armed Boxer are all foreigners, namely the Thai Boxer, the Indian Yoga Master, and the Japanese “Win Without a Knife.”

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the one-armed Boxer is truly a thoughtful teacher and a kung-fu badass in his own right.

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3 Responses to Master of the Flying Guillotine

  1. Mikhail says:

    This movie is a gem in the genre. A must see in my book.

    Not to be contrary, Rev, but I must point out that the blind Tibetan monk is not evil — chaotic neutral at best. He is just focussed on exacting revenge on the One Armed Boxer for the killing of his two students in the previous film. I first saw this film on LA’s channel 9 during an afternoon Kung Fu Theater sort of show when I was 10 or 11 so my experience with it wasn’t exactly cinematic. It was a pan-and-scan, 4:3, ridiculously dubbed essay on sudden decapitation from a distance. Made a huge impression.

  2. Reverend says:

    It was a pan-and-scan, 4:3, ridiculously dubbed essay on sudden decapitation from a distance. Made a huge impression.

    Oh so beautifully said, Mikhail. “Decapitation from a distance,” who knew? Now, after you encouraged me to watch this back in Brooklyn you turned me on to several more like The Five Deadly Venoms, Iron Monkey, Lone Wolf and Cub, and what else? I can’t get enough of this stuff.

    What do you think of this list?

  3. Mikhail says:

    Very nice. Here’s my top 10 pulpy martial arts films, not necessarily in order.

    1. Iron Monkey
    2. Fist of Legend
    3. Lone Wolf and Cub series (“When I was little, my father was the greatest Samurai in the empire . . . “)
    4. Magnificent Butcher
    5. Master Killer
    6. Once Upon a Time in China series (esp. the 3 Yuen Woo Ping films)
    7. Shintaro Katsu’s Zatoichi (1988)
    8. Takeshi Kitano’s Zatoichi (2003)
    9. Enter the Dragon
    10. Project A

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