Master of the Flying Guillotine/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
In one of the best martial arts films ever made Jimmy Wang Yu stars as the One Armed Boxer and he's being tracked down by the Master of The Flying Guillotine aka Fung Sheng Wu Chi (Kam Kang). The film begins as we are introduced to the blind, white haired Fung as he receives a message (by way of carrier pigeon) that his students Chow Fu and Chow Lung have been killed by a one armed man. Fung then swears to get revenge by any means necessary. He grabs his weapon (the fatal flying guillotine) and practices on some dummies. His deadly skill hasn't diminished a bit.
We next meet The One Armed Boxer (Jimmy Wang Yu) at a school of martial arts where he's teaching students the mysterious ways of kung fu. His skill is second to none as he performs supernatural feats that only a veteran can know, like walking up walls and around the edge of a wicker basket. When word comes that the local Eagle's Claw school is holding a martial arts tournament, his students are excited and anxious to see him take part. Yet the One Armed Boxer 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 him down and making sure that he kills every one armed man he comes across. His first victim is a guy who claims hes the one armed boxer but is actually a good for nothing loser who can't 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 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 fighter. One classic 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 doesn't wear shoes, he can't fight for long. Everytime he tries to hop out a window, the OAB's group are there with spears so he can't exit. With a snap, crackle and pop, The OAB gets rid of him.
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 maker's shop and The OAB uses his ingenuity to get Fung to lose his concentration. By setting up some deadly spring loaded axes, 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 whereabouts! While watching this sequence, I was happy to see a different take on the big ending battle, usually it's a genre cliche, but Jimmy Wang Yu does something new and fun with it. Bravo!
Master of the Flying Guillotine is a great example of martial arts filmmaking at its most exciting and creative. This is the best of the flying guillotine films in my opinion (even better than the Shaw Brothers). Jimmy Wang Yu is a masterful director of these kinds of action movies. If you love Grindhouse Kung Fu, theres no question this a must have for your collection.
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.