Sunday, September 7, 2014

Film Review: The Guillotines (2012)

The Guillotines (Review)
China/2012
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...a tiring and often unnecessarily convoluted and repetitive experience."

The Guillotines is a secret squad of assassins established by the Emperor to crush any opposition. However, the group, led by Leng (Ethan Juan), don't realize they are expendable and their next mission may be their last...

The Guillotines follows this group of highly-skilled assassins as they hunt down the prophet of the persecuted Han Chinese people named Wolf (Huang Xiaoming). There is some backroom drama between Leng and Haidu, a trusted agent and secret sworn brother of Leng, but not much happens during the first two acts. The characters just wander around looking for Wolf, with an occasional flashback. The story picks up the pace during the final act for some interesting plot points and an explosive climax, but it feels too little, too late. The ending was also long-winded and underwhelming.

Aside from an uneventful and often repetitive plot, The Guillotines also suffers from a lack of character. To be honest, aside from Leng and Wolf, I can barely remember any of the characters -- names, personalities, and all -- completely forgettable. And, it's disappointing considering the film's titled the Guillotines. More disappointing is the lack of the titular weapon; there are only a handful of scenes that use the interesting and unique flying guillotine.

The film starts off well with an interesting introduction and a great action sequence, but quickly winds down -- especially when it comes to action. In other words, the action scenes are good, but limited. They're very stylish using vivid colors, decent special effects, and a lot of slow motion. Aside from the style, though, they're not particularly unique -- remember, the flying guillotine is rarely used. If you're a fan of slow-motion explosions, maybe you'll like the climax, at least.

The acting was decent from most of the cast. I liked both Ethan Juan and Huang Xiaoming. However, the entire cast overacted whenever the roles became demanding -- like when they're crying and such. The film looks okay. Despite the setting and costume design, it doesn't really standout. Also, aside from one scene with a great song, the music is forgettable. The English subtitles on the Netflix Instant stream are great, though. The direction from Andrew Lau is disappointing, especially after great films like Infernal Affairs and Daisy; the film is really inefficient and ineffective, making for a tiring and often unnecessarily convoluted and repetitive experience.

Overall, The Guillotines is a mediocre film. It has a great introduction and an interesting action concept, but not much else. The story is uneventful and unnecessarily long, which makes for a boring experience, and the action fails to utilize the flying guillotine like anyone would expect. Its few decent action sequences, its almost redeeming climax and its decent acting is all the film really has to offer. If you're a fan of the genre or cast, it might be worth your time; but being a fan of the concept and director, I'm leaving disappointed.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore. (A lot of decapitations and dismemberments.)

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