Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Vengeful Beauty (1978)

Last year as part of our Chinese new Year celebration we took a look at a bunch of the Flying Guillotine films. We didn’t get all of them and in order to work our way toward finishing the series I now present Vengeful Beauty

In the film the emperor is masquerading as a kind benevolent man, however he is using a secret team of executioners armed with flying guillotines in order to kill his enemies. His enemies are not only the people who oppose him but many scholars, writers, book sellers and proof readers. His purge not only kills the enemy but their entire family.

Ping Chen plays Rong Qiu-yan who opposes as the reign of terror, which she thinks is being run by a lower official. When her family is wiped out, she vows revenge but flees to her husband’s uncles house to protect her unborn child. However Gang-feng who lead the attack knows she’s still alive and having told the emperor that the whole family was killed he must secretly send his children out to kill her. Fortunately for her she reconnects with Wang-jun who is an old friend and Ma Seng who is ex-flying guillotine assassin now on the run.

This is a breezy action film where the plot is less important than the action (trust me the plot is WTF material at times with a late in the game twist thats out of left field). Filled with stunning action set pieces spaced every five or six minutes apart this is a film where you have just enough plot to drive things into the next action sequence. Nothing in the story is groundbreaking (though the pregnant heroine is a nice twist) and the characters are stock so you can pretty much fill in any blanks.

The action is the thing. The set pieces are these fluid fight scenes with flashing swords, jabbing knives and spinning guillotines. In no way realistic the fights are still exciting and full of oh wow moments. There is something about bowls that kill and exploding guillotines that gets the blood going. The battles aren’t technical marvels but visceral ones. They grab you on an emotional level and pull you along. You want to go to the next bit of eye candy.

High art it’s not. Damn fun it is. This is the sort of film you curl up with on a rainy night and just get lost in.

This is great fun.

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