Issue #213           HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES                May 24th, 2004

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Flying Guillotine II
(1977; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Ching gung dai chi sat
Mandarin: Qing going da ci sha
English: Ching Palace Big Assassination
Alternate English Title: Flying Guillotine 2, Flying Guillotine Part II


RATING: 7/10


The Ching Dynasty's favorite weapon of oppression is back in this sequel, which finds Ti Lung replacing Chen Kuan-tai as Ma Teng (rechristened Ma Tan in the English subtitles here). When an unsanctioned attempt to assassinate sadistic emperor Yung Jing (Ku Feng) fails, the Han patriots are soon beset by the Manchurian guillotine squad. The rebels are saved by the intervention of Ma and his Iron Umbrella, the only effective defense against the insidious spinning blades. Fed up with his troops' inability to capture Ma, the emperor decrees that innocent Hans will be periodically executed until Ma surrenders. The plan works but Ma is saved by his fellow Hans iin the nick of time. Aided by information from an elderly teacher intimately familiar with the inner workings of the palace, plus the brains and martial talents of a Ching military advisor's rebellious daughter (Shih Szu), the rebels devise a new scheme. Meanwhile, Yung Jing has his own surprise: the guillotines have been modified and the Iron Umbrella is no longer an effective defense.

Ti Lung Shih Szu Ku Feng

Co-directed by Cheng Kang and Hua Shan, FLYING GUILLOTINE II initially seems like little more than a throwaway quickie with a one-note storyline and awkwardly edited action. Thankfully, the film improves markedly when Shi Szu's character is given center stage. Born of a Han mother, she is dedicated to the overthrow of Yung Jing but remains appreciative of the love shown by her high-ranking father. This conflict provides Shi with several dramatic moments and she handles them quite convincingly. Also in the movie's favor is a deliciously evil performance from Ku Feng (who played the guillotine's inventor in the previous installment) as one of the most ruthless Ching villains to be seen in the genre. Previously the protagonist, Ma is almost a secondary character here and, given so little to work with, Ti Lung does not make much of an impression in the role. The guillotines are a bit more aerodynamic this time, with the user able to set it in motion like a circus plate spinner, rather than twirling it around as a cowboy would a lasso. The newly devised Double Guillotines stretch the already outlandish concept too far but the final battle is genuinely exciting and quite satisfactorily choreographed. Familiar faces among the supporting players include Lo Lieh and Frankie Wai Wang (as Yung Jing's chief toadies), Fan Mui-sang, Cheng Kang-yeh, Wang Chung, and (very briefly) Yuen Wah and Corey Yuen Kwai. The soundtrack utilizes several cues from Akira Ifukube's superb score for DAIMAJIN.

Ti Lung  Lo Lieh (left), Shih Szu Ku Feng


The image is a tad soft in spots but, on the whole, this is another fine effort from Celestial with no other defects worth noting. The re-mixed audio features additional foley FX but does not tamper with the sound design to an overly distracting degree. The standard extras are included.

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Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC -- Region 3 Only
  • Intercontinental Video Ltd #102509
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Post-synced Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 88 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Ontario: R
  • Singapore: PG (cut)
  • Contains brutal violence, cruelty to animals, and brief nudity


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful