Friday, December 26, 2008

Master of the Flying Guillotine Soundtrack

Killing Fung Sheng Wu Chi's disciples is a good way to lose one's head 

Today we've got the soundtrack to one of the greatest Kung Fu movies ever made: 1977's Master of the Flying Guillotine.

I must admit that I have never been much of a fan of kung fu movies. Thanks to the local B-Movie hosts of my Midwestern childhood, I have seen my share over the years.  However, much like Spaghetti Westerns and Samurai flicks, I've never really been blown away enough to seek them out.      
I am even less of a fan of movie soundtracks.  Sure, there are good ones out there; Anton Karas' The Third Man and Ennio Morricone's Once Upon a Time in the West soundtracks being two of the more memorable - but I've never really seen the point of listening to movie scores. 

Sometimes, though, things inevitably converge to produce brilliance.  

Or, as is the case of the soundtrack to Master of the Flying Guillotine, it is stolen.   

The single baddest man in cinema: the Master of the Flying Guillotine

Several months ago a co-worker traded me a handful of movies that he thought I might like; 3 based on the Lovecraft mythos and 5 kung fu flicks.  I'm not sure why he felt I would like kung fu movies - unless, perhaps, it was my off-hand comment to him about my not being cool enough to watch Tarantino movies. 
Regardless, who was I to complain?  The guy was kind enough to bother in the first place.     

Impressed by his high praise of the movie, the first one I ended up watching was Master of the Flying Guillotine; aka The One Armed Boxer vs. the Flying Guillotine; aka One-Armed Boxer 2 

Ah, those crazy movie distributors...

During the superb prologue where the blind master of the flying guillotine is introduced, I was struck by the brilliance of the villain's ominous and strangely electronic theme.  By the time the opening credits backing track started playing, I was flat-out stunned. 
Chinese industrial music?  Wha...?

Oops! Wrong one-armed guy.

I immediately turned to my wife and in as few choice words as possible stated my utter disbelief.   

Was China this progressive in the 70s?  

Wait a minute.  Is that an electric guitar?  

Her response was a yawn.  Considering I not-so-secretly feel she uses most of my interests as a cheap sleep aid, I wasn't too surprised.  As a matter of fact, she ended up falling asleep shortly after. 

Anyway, I paused the disc at the appropriate place: 

Music by... Hsun Chi Chen?

Holy crap!  Who knew? 

"I don't care who he was.  I intend to kill every one-armed man that I come across..."

While I might be as ignorant as the next sap, it turns out my suspicions were correct. 

After researching the movie on the interdweeb, I found that the killer tunes at the beginning of the flick were unauthorized cuts by the krautrock band Neu! ('Super' and 'Super 16', off the Neu! 2 album).  On top of that, whoever assembled the backing tracks to the movie also illegally used snippets of Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk.    


I should have known.  Commies don't do electric guitars. 

Links of Interest:

Note: I've compiled the krautrock tracks.  In addition, I've thrown in some audio bits from the movie that I found out there and placed them in logical order.  Enjoy!  

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