Flying Guillotine Part II (aka Palace Massacre) is, well, not exactly a sequel to 1975’s Flying Guillotine or 1976’s Master of the Flying Guillotine. It’s really something separate from those films, connected solely by the use of the titular weapon — a special projectile device that decapitates opponents and steals their heads. It’s a mythological weapon — Mythbusters even busted it — that nonetheless looks cool as fuck when used in the context of martial arts and wuxia movies. There were a small series of mostly disconnected films centered around the weapon during the heyday of 1970s Kung Fu films, hence the renaming from Palace Massacre to greater associate it with earlier films.
How does it stack up? It’s fun but nothing particularly special in the Shaw Brothers catalog. The opening is sufficiently blood-covered, and the bleak ending caps the film well, but most of the middle is a bit of a political intrigue muddle.
As with 88 Films’ previous Shaw releases, Flying Guillotine Part II is given a deluxe treatment. The new case and slipcase feature brand-new artwork by R.P. “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien and a double-sided foldout poster. It matches the other Region-A Shaw releases quite beautifully. The disc itself is an HD transfer from an original negative, a vast improvement over past releases by far. The English subtitles are newly translated, although most Western viewers will likely use the 2.0 English dub track. An audio commentary by Mike Leader, Arne Venema, Frank Djeng and Michael Worth is also available.
It’s worth nothing that the booklet, written by Barry Forshaw, is not actually about Flying Guillotine Part II but rather an essay about the 1975 Flying Guillotine starring Chen Luan-tai. I don’t know why, but I guess I’d want to write about the better movie, too.