The Guillotines <血滴子> may not be a good film to ease your nerves from the forthcoming apocalypse this Friday, but if you are looking forward to watching a pure, action-packed escapist film this holiday season, then The Guillotines may be the perfect choice.
The 3D martial arts flick is produced by Peter Chan (陳可辛) and directed by Andrew Lau (劉偉強). It stars Huang Xiaoming (黄晓明), Ethan Ruan (阮經天), Li Yuchun (李宇春), Shawn Yue (余文樂), and Jing Boran (井柏然). When casting for the film, Peter and Andrew specified that none of the actors should be older than Huang Xiaoming’s age – 35 – as the team is looking forward to producing a capable film whose lead cast consists entirely of younger actors.
The youthful energy is not the only attractive factor of the film. Fans who attended the midnight showing gave the film two thumbs up, praising the film’s impeccable 3D camerawork and effects. “The Guillotines is just like Transformers,” a fan gushed. “It is so cool.”
“The Guillotines should be in 3D,” director Andrew Lau said. “I cannot have the film in 3D just for the sake of 3D. There needs to be a story as well.”
Set during the Manchurian-ruled Qing Dynasty, The Guillotines tells the story of a secret assassination squad, known as the Guillotines, who find their loyalty to the emperor tested when they discover that the emperor has ordered another team of assassins to carry out the same mission.
Similar to the Brocade-Clad Guards (Jinyi Wei) of the Ming Dynasty, the Guillotines were bound to serve only the emperor. With the flying guillotine as their weapon of choice, they fulfill their missions by decapitating their targets. Once heavily favored by Emperor Yongzheng, the Guillotines were deemed expendable after the ascent of Emperor Qianlong to the throne. In the midst of betrayal, bloody violence, and torture, the Guillotines fight for their own survival.
Those who have seen The Guillotines compared the film to Andrew Lau’s 1990s classic film series, Young and Dangerous<古惑仔>, noting the powerful cinematic violence in the film. Some even went to say that The Guillotines has “the shell of Young and Dangerous, but the heart of The Warlords <投名狀>,” praising the film’s well-written script.
“Huang Xiaoming’s age was the limit,” producer Peter Chan remarked. “I did not want to cast anyone else who was older than him.”
The production crew once had their doubts that a young leading cast would be able to carry off a successful blockbuster, but all their worries flew out the window after acknowledging the positive reception that the film has received so far.
“[The cast] are young and talented. I am very proud of them,” said Peter Chan.
Huang Xiaoming portrays Tian Lang (Sky Wolf), the heroic leader of the anarchy group, the Herders. A character whose background is ambiguous and mysterious, Sky Wolf has an eccentric personality, and easily one of the hardest characters to play in the film. “Huang Xiaoming grasped Sky Wolf’s mentality very well. He is able to let go of his entire idol image, and portray Sky Wolf to his finest.”
With the responsibility of carrying the entire story on his shoulders, Ethan Ruan portrays the leader of the Guillotines, Leng. Peter Chan explained that Ethan’s character is somewhat of a double agent. “The audience will love and hate his character at the same time.”
The Guillotines is not Li Yuchun’s first acting effort, but the film is the singer’s first role as lead actress. “Li Yuchun is the only female lead. On the outside, she appears as a ruthless member of the Guillotines. In the inside however, she is soft and vulnerable.”
As for Shawn Yue’s character, Haidu, Peter Chan explained that although his character appears to be merely a supporting character in the first half of the film, his character will be responsible for the conflict that arises at the end of the film, hinting that Shawn is the film’s ultimate villain.
The Guillotines will open in mainland China on December 20 and in Hong Kong on December 27.
Huang Xiaoming, Shawn Yue, and Ethan Ruan also sing the subtheme song to The Guillotines.
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