During the Manchurian-ruled Qing Dynasty, Emperor Yong Zheng established a secret assassination squad known as The Guillotines to eliminate all who opposed him. Once heavily favored by the Emperor, the Guillotines are deemed expendable once Emperor Qian Long ascends to the throne and adopts Western ideas and technology. To consolidate his power under a new regime, the Emperor continues to use the Guillotines to persecute the conquered Han Chinese in a reign of terror and oppression. (Gary Reber)
Special features include interviews with cast and crew, a making-of featurette (HD 17:15), trailers, and upfront previews.
The 2.39:1 1080p AVC picture, digitally photographed, is cinematically dramatic in appearance, with stylization throughout. The color palette is expressive of warm, vibrant, and blue hues that are cast as a filter in some scenes. Throughout, fleshtones remain naturally hued. Contrast is generally well balanced, but black levels lack intensity and deepness. Shadow delineation is revealing, as the darker areas are limited. Resolution is excellent, with fine detail revealed in facial features, hair, clothing, and object texture. Production design and cinematography are visually engaging. This is a really captivating visual experience that is fascinating to experience. (Gary Reber)
The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 7.1-channel soundtrack is robustly dynamic, with sonics to reinforce the strong violence. Mechanized guillotines, swords, and explosions are accompanied with aggressive directionalized surround support and enhanced bass energy. The .1 LFE is effectively energized with sub-25 Hz extension, to intensify the explosions. Atmospherics and sound effects are panned throughout the soundfield, for an exciting holosonic® surround experience. The orchestral music score also is intense and aggressively dimensional, for a wide and deep soundstage and surround presence. The Mandarin dialogue sounds natural and is mostly effectively integrated spatially but at times is unnaturally forward and narrative sounding. The added two channels conform to the theatrical Dolby® Atmos surround format, which adds two back channels. This is an exciting sonic experience that puts a lot of sound energy in every channel, making for a highly charged soundtrack. (Gary Reber)