The Flying Guillotine (HK 1975)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 5/8/04
Cast: Chen Kwan Tai, Liu Wu Chi, Yung Wang Yu, Norman Chu (?)

Classic Shaw Brothers tale of politics, betrayal, and revenge. The evil Ching emperor wants to execute anyone who sympathizes with the Hans, and one of his generals devises the deadly flying guillotine as the assassination weapon of choice. Reportedly, this was a real weapon at the time, but no actual plans or pictures of it exist so the filmmakers took a lot of artistic liberty with it. The emperor trains twelve assassins to be proficient with the flying guillotine, but the group starts to break apart and have second thoughts about their orders and their targets. Ma Teng (Chen Kwan Tai) is the most proficient of the group, and he flees to the countryside after one of his brothers betrays him. As a fugitive, he meets and marries the lovely Yu Ping (adorable Liu Wu Chi), becomes a farmer, and sires a son, but his past eventually catches up with him and he's forced to dispatch all of his former brothers. An excellent production shot in the super wide Shaw Brothers style, but the kung fu seems a bit wooden.