Opening June 14th at the Four Star Theatre in San Francisco and already available on iTunes & VOD, The Guillotines tells the story of a brotherhood of secret assassins who find themselves in the middle of a rebellion conflicted between both sides. Trained to only have one function in the Emperor’s court, they are armed with their trademark weapon which launches like a boomerang decapitating their intended target.
An entertaining watch, but by no means quality viewing, the story starts off decently, but quickly becomes undone by its preachy narrative. Its usage of monologues and flashbacks attempts to lend more insight to its characters but often raises more questions creating further cracks to an already brittle plot. The result is a film heavily laced with propaganda hitting you on the head over and over again.
Its saving grace just may be in the form of eye candy. The action sequences, when they do appear, are quite the feast, in particular the complexity of how the CG guillotine weapon works. The martial arts fighting scenes are fun viewing and unexpectedly well done. Wang Xiaoming Jesus-inspired look really works for his chiseled features. Not so lucky is Taiwanese heartthrob Ethan Ruan, who’s Qing dynasty queue does not do him justice.
Still, the small audience who screened with me mused that while there was nothing inherently wrong with the film, you still felt you were being scolded like a child.