Shaolin Invincibles—F

Master of the Flying Guillotine—D

Although I cannot take a steady diet of them, I do like martial arts films from time to time.  A few are simply amazing—with great fighting sequences, wonderful plots and plenty of action.  If you want to see films like these, try Ip Man or any of the Sonny Chiba Streetfighter films.  However, as I’ve recently written a few columns about bad films, let’s talk about terrible martial arts films—another sort of picture I like on occasion.  Now I am NOT talking about boring films—there are plenty of boring and grainy martial arts films out there.  I am talking about Asian films with such patently ridiculous plots that you can’t help but laugh at as you watch.  Two of these are definite must-sees—Shaolin Invincibles and Master of the Flying Guillotine.

Shaolin Invincibles begins with an evil Emperor ordering his soldiers to wipe out an innocent family for some minor perceived insult.  However, true to many martial arts films, he does not kill all of them—and two young girls somehow escape his clutches.  Then, they spend the following years perfecting their fighting skills so that they can eventually repay the Emperor for his ‘kindness’!

So far, this is all very standard fare—the sort of plot I’ve seen in at least a couple dozen films of the genre.  However, do not fear—the weirdness is coming!  The Emperor hires a couple assassins who are simply like walking LSD trips!  Both the guys have tongues about 3 to 4 feet long—and they use them like whips as they fight!  Is this not quite weird enough for you?!  Well, they also have a couple pet gorillas (obviously guys in cheap gorilla costumes) that ALSO are masters of kung fu!!!  Can the girls somehow survive this incredibly silly onslaught—as well as kicks and punches that often miss by several feet YET somehow make wonderfully loud and silly sound effects?!


The next favorite bad film is an odd one because if you check IMDB, it has some very high scores and glowing reviews.  I cannot understand folks who describe it as ‘masterful’ and ‘superb’!!!  I can only assume they have head injuries or are family members of the folks who made the film.  While it is fun to watch, it is also terrible.

Master of the Flying Guillotine begins with a blind man being told that his master was murdered by a one-armed guy in some town.  So, the blind guy goes to the town and starts killing EVERYONE who has one arm.  Now this might lead you to wonder…’how can a blind guy KNOW that he’s killing a one-armed man?’.  A very reasonable question but the more pressing one is HOW can he kill anyone since he’s blind?!  Well, I can suspend disbelief here a tiny bit, as I do enjoy the Japanese Zatoichi films—and ‘ol Zatoichi is also blind.  However, what makes this guy so unusual is his flying guillotine—a Frisbee-like hat that he expertly tosses onto his victims’ heads.  And, when he yanks the chain attached to it, it lops off their heads!!  Sure, the physics of all this is stunningly stupid—but it gets worse.

In the midst of all this blood and rolling plastic heads, there is a wonderful martial arts tournament.  It’s full of lots of silly fighting and fighters—some of which boggle the mind.  My favorite was the supposedly Indian guy whose arms magically stretch about 10 feet long!!  They are obviously Papier-mâché and I found myself rolling on the floor laughing as I watched the guy fight!

Now I know I only briefly discussed two terrible martial arts films—and I know there are more (including films with fighting dwarves and armless heroes).  So, please send me your suggestions!  I could always use a good laugh!

Article by Martin Hafer, Lead Entertainment Writer