Quentin Tarantino lists Flying Guillotine as one of his favorite films, and its influence can be seen elsewhere as well. Along with inspiring a 2012 remake of the movie, there were multiple sequels released in Hong Kong during the 1970s. The first and most recognizable of these was Flying Guillotine Part II, also released as Palace Carnage. This film directed by Cheng Kang and Hua Shan brought back characters from the first film for a new conflict, and plenty more decapitations.
Now an outlaw rebel, Ma Teng (Ti Lung) has developed a way to counter the previously undefeated flying guillotine weapons and joins a group of female freedom fighters to go up against the villainous emperor Chen-feng Kang (Wei Hung). When the emperor realizes his prized weapon can be defeated, he insists that Yung Cheng (Ku Feng) create a new version able to defeat the freedom fighters. He also has a squad of female assassins trained to use them.
As with many of these Shaw Brothers classics, the film builds towards an inevitable action-packed showdown. This is where the martial arts skills and choreography are put on display. While Flying Guillotine Part II has a solid storyline, this climactic battle is still the highlight. It is a violent ballet, complete with carnage that is somehow simultaneously beautiful to watch. Even more beautiful in the 88 Films Blu-ray release of the classic martial arts film, which is the sharpest presentation of the film I have seen.
The reason the film looks so good is because a high definition transfer was taken from the original negative in 2.35:1 aspect ratio for the release. Both the English language dubbed audio and the original Mandarin version are available in 2.0 Mono. There is also an optional commentary track with Asian cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema, and the special features have the film’s original theatrical trailer.
Beyond the content on the disc, this new release contains original artwork by R.P “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien, which is featured on the carboard sleeve. The insert also has this newly commissioned artwork on one side, with the original poster on the opposite side. The package comes with a reversible mini poster containing both versions as well. The package is made complete with a booklet with notes on the film from Barry Forshaw and still photos from the production.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 7/10
Special Features: 7/10