DVD Review – The Guillotines (2012)

Set during the Qing Dynasty, the Chinese Emperor assembles a team of soldiers equipped with deadly cutting edge weapons. The group of soldiers are titled “The Guillotines” and are sent on a quest to eliminate the rebel leader known only as Wolf.

At first they manage to overcome Wolf’s men, but a member of the team is captured by Wolf, and this member happens to be the daughter of the Emperor. The Emperor demands that the remaining Guillotines plan a full assault on the Wolf and his rebel army rescuing his daughter at all costs.

Director Andrew Lau hops on the bandwagon with every other Chinese director nowadays, shilling out his Chinese war period piece. Whilst the initial plot seems straightforward, the pay off in the second half of the story is quite interesting. Shawn Yue, Li Yuchun, Huang Xiaoming and Ethan Jung do deliver the necessary acting chops needed for the film. I always know that Shawn Yue is a safe bet in movies, but the rest of the cast do well also.

The film itself is decent, but it has the same trouble as most films of this type do, it tends to get pretty dull at points. It’s just shy of two hours and damn, if they could only have tightened it to 90 minutes, we’d have a stronger movie. I do feel a good quarter of this film is people grieving, grieving and even some slow-motion grieving, slavers and all!

The action sequences are decent, but rely on a fair use of CGI, which isn’t surprising as the contraption they are flinging around looks a lacrosse stick mixed with a frisbee rejected from the last Saw movie. The use of CGI during battle scenes also gives the director a chance to be all screw-ball-scramble with the camera angles and quick-cutting MTV style editing.

Overall The Guillotines is a decent watch for fans of Asian cinema, but it’s nothing new.