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A loose sequel to The Flying Guillotine, this aggressive second installment sees a tyrannical emperor terrorize rebels with the invention of a deadly double flying guillotine. Also known as Palace Carnage, the 1978 Shaw Brothers movie is known for its gruesomely awesome finish which sees virtually no one left standing.

Outlaw Ma Teng joins a group of female freedom fighters as the emperor crushes Han rebels with his squad of flying guillotine assassins. Upset a counter has been developed to his unstoppable weapons, the emperor develops a deadlier flying guillotine for use against his foes.

Flying Guillotine Part II is solid, middle-of-the-road Shaw Brothers kung fu cinema with enough wrinkles to satisfy even the most jaded genre fan

Despite fewer on-screen beheadings than the first movie, the violence and bloodshed remain thick in the slick martial arts action. There’s no real reason to catch the first movie before Part II; different actors play the main character and they don’t even share the same director. Flying Guillotine Part II has no relation to Master of the Flying Guillotine other than sharing their titular weapons.

What this sequel does correctly is stronger practical effects bringing off the vaunted flying guillotines. It’s a vast step up from the original. The action is typical Shaw Brothers with a focus on bloody swordplay and fighters acrobatically dodging the guillotines in battle. The fights are effective and worth the price of admission, culminating in a shocking finale which leaves almost no one left alive.

Flying Guillotine Part II is solid, middle-of-the-road Shaw Brothers kung fu cinema with enough wrinkles to satisfy even the most jaded genre fan. The plot is messy thanks to the movie’s troubled production history. However, the final product delivers fierce martial arts battles and a line-up of impressive female fighters.

 

Video

88 Films has gifted Flying Guillotine Part II a handsome and thoroughly healthy presentation on Blu-ray given the movie’s somewhat erratic cinematography. A new transfer from the original camera negative, the 2.35:1 scope video reveals excellent grain texture and fairly rich colors. Red hues are especially vivid, highlighting the brutal fights.

It’s a film-like transfer loaded with fine detail and a warmly even contrast. Unfiltered with strong definition, this is easily one of the best transfers licensed from Celestial Pictures’ Shaw Brothers catalog on BD. Some inconsistencies abound, a product of how the film was made.

The main feature runs 92 minutes on a BD-50. A transparent AVC encode tightly replicates the negative. The elements are in top condition with no evident film damage, almost pristine. Mumps and patches of softness reflect the original cinematography’s limitations. The director heavily uses camera zooms, which does occasionally impact the video quality.

Audio

A mono English dub and the original Mandarin soundtrack are both heard in 2.0 DTS-HD MA. While not the strongest or most memorable dub for Shaw Brothers, it’s a highly competent track with effective voice acting. You really can’t go wrong with either soundtrack.

Both audio choices have a full, healthy soundstage with few noticeable issues. Dynamics are stout with decent extension and intelligible dialogue reproduction. Smooth fidelity for older Hong Kong fare with crisp sound effects and interesting design choices.

Optional English subtitles play in a white font inside the scope presentation.

Extras

88 Films issues Flying Guillotine Part II in a limited-edition slipcover featuring new artwork from Kung Fu Bob, a 24-page illustrated collector’s booklet with an essay written by Barry Forshaw, reversible cover with original Hong Kong poster art, and a double-sided foldout poster. This slides in very nicely with 88 Films’ other Shaw Brother releases.

Supplements are scant here but the commentary does a decent enough job providing some of the movie’s troubled production history.

The disc is coded for regions A & B.

Audio Commentary with Asian cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema – A rollicking, jovial discussion which never takes itself too seriously while analyzing the film’s finer points.

Flying Guillotine Part II Original Trailer (03:33 in HD)

Stills Gallery (16 in HD)

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page.

Flying Guillotine Part II
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Movie

A satisfying martial arts adventure from Shaw Brothers hits home with a spectacular death battle and a huge body count.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 42 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: