Death Machines (1976) Review

What’s Madame Lee up to? Oh, she’s just planning on killing Mr. Gioretti now, now that they’re done doing business with him. She sends her assistant and Death Machines to greet him at the airfield once he lands. As they drive there, they happen to be spotted by Frank as he drives with Florence.

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This is one small city.

Florence takes down the plate number and Frank lets her out, telling her to get ahold of Lieutenant Forrester while he follows the group. After receiving the call and putting a tracer on the plate, Clay goes to try and stop the Death Machines himself. Not even Captain Green with his deep green complexion can stop him.

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At the airfield, Frank hides in the brush and watches Mr. Gioretti’s plane land, and we see pretty much every shot of the plane landing and turning around. It really builds up the tension in these last 10 minutes.

Gioretti hands Madame’s assistant a briefcase full of money before getting back in the plane and getting ready to fly away.

The Death Machines pull out that kickass bazooka and assemble it.

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Just as the plane is about to take off, it’s a goner.

90% of the budget right there... probably.
90% of the budget right there… probably.

After that, the group heads back to Madame Lee’s house, and Frank tails them there as well. Madame stands on her staircase like she loves to do, as her assistant informs her that Gioretti won’t be in the picture anymore.

After one of the Death Machines pushes her aside, Madame Lee suggests it’s time to kill them now. Her assistant seems confident that he can do this with a little gunny, even though he should know full well by now that even a bullet to the head essentially results in a bruise.

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He walks up there, and we see Frank’s face outside as we hear three gunshots from within the house.

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Like a genius, Frank walks up to the house to investigate afterward, opening the door and cautiously walking up the stairs.

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When he finally gets upstairs, Madame jumps out of a room and starts attacking Frank maniacally with a sword, following him downstairs with it until she slashes his back as he leaves. I’m pretty sure Frank is the most understated film hero ever.

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Frank’s lucky, however, because the cops show up in time to take Madame Lee out. So, are they the real heroes? It was Jerry Fart who took the shot. Doesn’t that make him the hero?

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Gotta defeat that surname somehow, man.
Gotta defeat that surname somehow, man.

As Frank sits outside with Florence and just says, “It’s okay,” serving as the laziest protagonist ever, Clay explores the house and finds Madame’s assistant’s death by Death Machine.

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Where oh where did the Death Machines go?

To an airport, of course, where they board a plane. How do they do this? They just walk up to the woman at the front desk without any luggage, hand her a single sheet of paper, and she just says that their flight is about to leave the gate. “Enjoy your flight,” she says with a smile. I wish it was that easy.

The film ends with this shot, indicating that the empty vessels of the film get the content, emotionless ending they deserved. I’m so happy for them.

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Then the music gets a little weird and transitions to the “The End” card.

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I don’t know about you, but to me that was everything a kung fu film should be. You have the ambiguous heroes who don’t even need to try in order to win over evil, the romantic woman whose only purpose is to fail to change the hero, a team of emotionless robotic men who experience no awakening and get the happy ending they need, and a main villain whose speech therapist must’ve been killed before the job could be finished.

I give this Paul Kyriazi classic a 5/5, a rating I just can’t resist giving to this timeless flick. Like the other films in the “Kung Fu Gunk Fu” series, you can get this film in the Kung Fu 20 Movie Pack over at Amazon for $7. You can also buy Death Machines here by itself, if you’d rather isolate it from its friends.

6 thoughts on “Death Machines (1976) Review

  1. Thanks for that fun, in depth review and especially for the five out of five stars. We all had fun making that movie and took it very seriously to get the most production value for the money we had. This link will take you to a detailed article that I wrote about directing Death Machines:


    • Thanks for reading! Glad you enjoyed it. And thank you and everyone else involved for giving us this crazy film.

      Fascinating read there as well.


  2. Death Machines was just released in Blu-ray made from ther original wide-screen techniscope negative and looks great. I did the director’s commentary, the asian killer did a video talk, the afro-american killer did a great audio interview, I did a short video intro at a Japanese temple. The print quailty if fantastic. And Capt. Green is less green than before. I just read through your reveiw again and last at least five times. Thanks.


  3. Great film with film dubbed voices in Chinese theatre traditions.
    Great fight choreography by assassins. (This is too easy style.)
    Assassins injected: probably heroin den babies born to fight in death matches, (probably the hold their den mother had on them) is an old Secret of KungFu !!!
    Awesome soundtrack, where is the sequel.


  4. Egad, this flick was a turkey–It’s the last or next to last flick featured in the 12 disk, 50 movie collection, “Sci-Fi Invasion”. Nothing about this film could really be called “good”, but the music is especially bad. The analog synth background music from “Death Machines” is also used as the menu music for each and every disc in the “Sci-Fi Invasion” collection and I have fallen asleep many nights to bad sci fi movies only to wake up at 4am to the creepy, eerie strains of the noodling theme of “Death Machine”. You can’t put a price on that kind of thing. As for the movie–they had enough cash to film it in technicolor, blow up a Cessna, and drive a truck through a perfectly nice Italian restaurant movie set. They made 70,000 grand on this–doubt it covered costs– doesn’t matter, it was well worth whatever they spent on it. I truly appreciate low budget bad movies–but only if the makers sincerely tried to make a good film at the time. “Death Machines” is right up there with the best/worst of ’em!


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