Friday, February 8, 2013

Du bi quan wang da po xue di zi (Master of the Flying Guillotine) (1976)

Seen: At my friend Sam's house, part of her Kung Food Remix series.

So a friend of mine has been hosting "Kung Food Remix" viewing parties that involve kung-fu movies and Chinese food, it's a pretty great idea. Before this we did Drunken Master and Black Belt Jones, then last week for a special birthday edition she showed Master of the Flying Guillotine, which is pretty much as awesome as its name implies. A sequel to writer/director/star Wang Yu's One-Armed Boxer (which I didn't know until later), the film follows the title character (Chin Kang), an elderly blind fighter who skillfully wields an awesome head-chopper weapon, as he seeks vengeance for his two students, killed by a one-armed fighting master and teacher (Wang Yu). Believing that the One-Armed Boxer will be participating in a large martial arts competition, the Master of the Flying Guillotine fucks shit up all over the tournament to get to him, killing several other one-armed men in the process.

While I was a little confused about some of the characters- partly due to my lack of knowledge of the preceding film-, as Master of the Flying Guillotine progressed I kind of got really into it. It's mostly just a series of awesome fights, which is exactly what I wanted, and there's a certain strangeness (at least to my untrained eyes) in the characters that appealed to me. Some of the competitive fighters are East/Southeast Asians played (I believe?) by Chinese actors in makeup, and it was interesting to see how other cultures were represented with wholly unfamiliar stereotypes. I loved the Indian "Yoga Master" with his extendable arms, and the mysterious (and treacherous) Japanese fighter known as "Win-Without-a-Knife". The central conflict is interesting because I didn't know whom to root for- both sides had their own understandable motivations and as fighters they seemed evenly matched. At first I was totally on the side of the man with the guillotine, because he had amazingly long eyebrows as well as a fucking flying guillotine. But then I realized the One-Armed Boxer was probably meant to be the good guy, and I did enjoy his serious and pragmatic character.

There's one lady fighter (Doris Lung) who seemed awesome, whipping dudes' clothes off with her braids (for real), and so I invented a sequel/reboot/remake where she is secretly the Master of the Flying Guillotine and takes everybody by surprise. Get on it, filmmakers.

4/5

Pair This Movie With: The international fighting competition made me think of Enter the Dragon, which is fucking rad.

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