Right, much like <<Killing them softly>>, The Guillotines is a wuxia film. Just without the martial arts fighting. Except <<Killing them softly>> actually had interesting characters.
Right, the guillotines are basically the secret assassins of the Emperor They employ a device known as the flying guillotine to kill dissidents. They're sent on a mission to kill Chinese Jesus; and dude, I'm not kidding here, the actor really looks like they dressed him up to be Jesus, what with the long hair, the beard, the frigging white robes. They capture him and schedule him for execution the next day, except he escapes and now they must go and catch him.
Add in a subplot about how the Emperor wants to get rid of the Guillotines because he thinks they're an antiquated organisation and wants to replace them with guns and cannons instead, and you have the film.
I'm going to be blunt here. There is almost NO martial arts fighting in this film. The only decent fight you will see is in the first 10 minutes of the film; and incidentally where I suspect they blew 90% of their special effects budget on. The guillotines end up dying in stupid ways, because for super martial artists, they get taken down by commoners who basically...mob them. And then several of them get taken down while charging blindly towards guns. I'm not really sure, are we suppose to sympathise with them at this point or facepalm because they're such dumbasses? I'm not even sure what was the point of the guillotines because other than the fight they had at the beginning, they never really accomplished anything. Even at the end, when you think the sole female guillotine is going to take down some soldiers to protect the civilians, nope, she doesn't. Instead she runs towards the guns and gets shot to death while running. So, she was completely useless in the film. Not only was she kidnapped, she also broke (which was the funny part because htf did an assassin realising she was an assassin break her??) and defected to the rebel side, giving the Emperor a reason to get rid of ALL the guillotine squad members. Yeah, nice portrayal of women you have there.
The movie sort of meanders along, never really hitting any plot point very well and yet introducing quite a few of them. The director is pretty hamfisted in his directing as well, with all sorts of melodramatic moments where the actors will pose (very unnaturally) and the camera will just stop on them for a moment as if to say 'hey, look at this cool pose'.
It basically feels like they tried to mix too many other movies in there. There's the subplot about China having to advance, about racial harmony, about the guillotines being outdated and needing to change or be gotten rid of. It just feels like a bad remix of 7 samurai, which had a lot of those themes as well. Except seven samurai is a classic while the guillotines is...Well, let's just say I want to forget the movie.
And then, there's chinese jesus. When I saw him, it was mind-boggling because I went 'wtf were they thinking??' Then it got funnier when you saw him espousing such phrases as 'if people slap your cheek, slap their check back' and so on. Not to mention he can fight as well, so it really should be chinese wuxia jesus. His characterisation was also all over the place. At first, he's protrayed as this bloodthirsty rebel leader, with phrases like 'slap them back' , 'if people step on you, cut off their legs' and so on. Then later, he starts saying stuff like 'we just want to live in peace'. Really? If so, then you might want to consider not telling your followers to beat up and cut off peoples legs then.
So sadly, not even chinese wuxia jesus was enough to save this film.