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Master of the Flying Guillotine

From The Quentin Tarantino Archives

Master1.jpg
  • Released in 1976
  • Directed by Jimmy Wang Yu

Film Review

This is one of the best martial arts films ever made. Jimmy Wang Yu is the One Armed Boxer and he's being tracked down by the Master of The Flying Guillotine aka Fung Sheng Wu Chi. The film begins as we are introduced to the blind, white haired Fung (Kam Kang) as he recieves a message (by way of carrier pigeon) that his students Chow Fu and Chow Lung have been both killed by a one armed man. Fung swears to get revenge on the one armed man by any means necessary. Fung then grabs his weapon, the fatal flying guillotine and practices on some dummies. His deadly skill hasnt diminished a bit.

We meet The One Armed boxer at his school of martial arts where hes teaching the mysterious arts of kung fu. His skill is second to none as he performs supernatural feats that only a vetran of kung fu can know. He walks on walls and around the edge of a wicker basket. When word comes that the local Eagles Claw school is holding a martial arts tournament, his students are excited and anxious to see him take part. But he does not find any interest in using his kung fu skills for sport. He wants to stay true to his chi.

Meanwhile, Fung Sheng is tracking down The One Armed Boxer and hes making sure that he kills every one armed man he comes across. His first victim is a man who claims hes the one armed boxer, but is actually a good for nothing loser who cant even pay for his own dinner. Fung proceeds to throw the flying guillotine on him and lop his head clean off.

The direction by Wang Yu and creative fight choreography done by the brothers Leung in 'Master' is really some wonderful stuff. There are all kinds of martial arts fighters represented as well. From a Yoga Master with retracting arms to a Monkey Style Kung Fu master. Another great sequence is what I like to call 'the "Griddle Hut" in which the OAB and his cohorts lure one of Fung's helpers (the Thai boxer) into a small hut with a metal floor. Under the floor they light a fire and since the Thai boxer doesnt wear shoes, he cant fight for long, everytime he tries to hop out a window, the OAB's group are there with spears so he cant exit.With a snap, crackle and pop, The OAB gets rid of the Thai Boxer.

The climactic fight between The One Armed Boxer and Fung Sheng is one of my personal favorite movie endings of all time. Fung and the OAB battle it out in a coffin makers shop and The OAB uses his ingeniuity to get Fung to lose his concentration. By setting up some deadly spring loaded axe's The OAB gets the best of the blind Fung. You can also see Fung's head turn around 360 degrees in one shot when he gets confused as to The OAB's wherabouts! While watching this sequence, I was happy to see a different take on the big ending battle, usually its something very cliche, but Jimmy Wang Yu does something new and fun with it. Bravo!

This is the best of the flying guillotine films in my opinion (even better than the Shaw Brothers).

Master of the Flying Guillotine is a great example of martial arts filmmaking at its most exciting and creative. Jimmy Wang Yu is a masterful director of martial arts movies. If you love Grindhouse Kung Fu, theres no question this a must have for your collection.

Reviewed by Pete R - 5/26/07