Saturday, February 14, 2009

Master of the Flying Guillotine(1975)

I've been listening to the Wu-Tang Clan for many years. It's hard to believe it myself. From the time that "Protect Ya Neck" came out to about "Wu-Tang Forever", I had a boner for the Shoalin that was bigger than Oklahoma. Hell, I still listen to the new Ghostface as much as possible, so you could probably say that boner never really went away, I've just been able to hide it better. One of the things that always intrigued me about the Wu was there love for that old Hong Kong shit. From the name, to their alias', and the prevalent use of samples from early HK Kung-fu flicks....these guys had more of an obsession with that shit than I can ever dream of. They even starting releasing these movies when the cash flow starting coming in. I've got to hand it to the Wu. If it wasn't fot them, my obsession with kung-fu probably wouldn't be so strong. It might even be non-existant.

Big ups to the Killer Beez!

I've been curious of Master of the Flying Guillotine since I first heard reference to it in several classic hip-hop tracks. I've been tempted to buy it many times over the last 15 years, but it has only been recently that I've had a strong drive to watch it. I think it had to do with seeing the trailer a couple of months ago. I immediatly thought, "fuck, I've been missing out" and made it a priority. I finally got a chance to watch it this morning.

Fuck, was I missing out.

This is possibly my favorite kung-fu movie next to 5 Deadly Venoms. It was that fucking awesome. Over the fucking top in the wuxia-style hk movies. It's got revenge, a tournament, crazy martial arts style, and the motherfucking flying guillotine. "What is this mysterious flying guillotine?" you ask. Think of a cloth frisbee in a chain with blades. With a quick tug over a victims head it releases a bag covering the face. One more quick tug and you have a headless vctim. Pretty fuckin sweet, huh? It also doubles as a giant shurikan on a chain. It is considered by many to be the deadliest weapon in the world. There is only one master, and he is blind and pissed. This old blind guy wants revenge against the one-armed boxer( I know it sounds like a joke) for the deaths of his two not-so-friendly disciples. This is wear it begins.

The One-Armed Boxer runs a martial arts school. He is also a highly regarded folk hero and supreme fighter. When an invitation arrives for him to participate in a tournament thrown by the Eagle Claw school, he humbly backs down, but his students convince him to at least show up as a spectator. With the whole school in tow of course. This is when the movie starts getting good, granted this is also less than ten minutes into the movie. I love action movie tournaments. No matter who's acting and how bad the movie, I usually find to-the-death tournaments redeeming. And this one is no exception. You see, the One-Armed Boxer isn't the only party who has received word of Eagle Claw's tournament. It seems that the blind badass is also aware of it, and is very interested. Interested enough to the point where he puts out order to a couple of foreigners to keep their eyes peeled during their participation.

Everybody loves a seedy foreigner, especially those with mastery over a fighting style that is not kung-fu. Of the three, my favorite was the indian yoga master. If the Street Fighter character Dhalsim was based on anyone, it would have to be this asshole. Like Djalsim, he had the ability to hyper-extend his arms, which made his holds almost impossible to break. Besides the darker complexion and being from India, that is really the only thing the two have in common. The other seedy foreigners are less exciting, but still pretty fuckin' rugged.

And so the tournament plays on. Style vs. style. With some special matches thrown in. These are the ones that I'm a fan of most of all. Even though the fighters were not that special, the post-and-blade match kicked the shit out of the other matches. The fighters, rope-master vs, blade master, were the two most boring styles in the whole tournament. No wonder they fought on such a cool playing field.

Eventually, the Master of the Flying Guillotine shows up and takes some heads, and this is when the drama in the movie really starts to kick in. He is not only out for One-Armed blood, he will take any head that gets in his blind way.

As i said, this movie is over-the-fuckin-top. Like any good KF flick, the plot is played out, and almost unecessary. It covers the plot basics: revenge, masters,technique, and a revenge. Oooops...Did I say "revenge" twice? Well , there are two different revenge scenerios. Double the fun. The wire-fu is present, but not over the top like some movies from this era. It is mostly used in outstanding jumps and some wall walking. The fighting was decent, not Bruce Lee standard, but decent. In movies like this the wire-fu an fantastic antics tend to make up for lousy fighting. But not in this case, the fighting sequences were good. It was a combination of all the elements mentioned that made this such a fun movie. As I keep saying...over-the-fuckin-top.

I should probably get around to watching the first One-Armed Boxer movie to get a better appreciation for the hero. Although I did root for him, I was really all about the Flying Guillotine.

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