"I forgive Jimmy Wang Yu for Killer Meteors and Fantasy Mission Force."
- Mighty Peking Man
One-Armed Swordsman (1967)
Director: Chang Cheh
Writer: Chang Cheh, Ni Kuang
Producer: Runme Shaw
Cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Pan Yingzi, Chiao Chiao, Wong Chung Shun, Tin Fung, Guk Fung, Liu Chia Liang, Yeung Chi Hing, Chen Yan Yan, Fan Mei Sheng, Wong Kwong Yue, Tong Gaai, Gai Yuen, Cliff Lok, Yen Shi-Kwan, Yuen Cheung Yan, Yuen Wo Ping, Tong Dik, Mars
Running Time: 110 min.
Plot: See review below.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: When the Golden Sword School is attacked, a student sacrifices his life to defend his teacher and peers. In return for his heroic efforts, the teacher of the school promises to accept the dying man's only son, Feng, as a student. Years later, Feng (a much older version, played by Jimmy Wang Yu), now the school's most skilled student is an outcast. Other students are jealous of the extra treatment Feng gets from their teacher, so they constantly make fun of - and pick fights - with him every chance they get. On a snowy night - just as Feng decides to leave the school, blaming himself for the others' attitudes towards him - he crosses paths with the mean-spirited students. They insist on challenging him, Feng rejects and in the process, his right arm is sliced off.
Feng manages to escape and is rescued by a farm girl, who aids in healing him. However, Feng is depressed, especially when he learns how helpless he is without his right arm. He soon gains hope and starts practicing a new method of fighting, which consists of his dad's broken sword and a mysterious martial arts manual that is half-burned. Using the skills he has learned from his school, the mysterious manual, and adapting to the fact that he only has one arm, he develops his own unique style and becomes one of the most deadly fighters in the martial world.
Feng's skill is put to the test when he learns that his old school is, once again, under attack by the same evil clan, opposing an even larger threat than ever before...
While everyone was rushing into theatres watching Jet Li fly around like a multicolored Peter Pan in "Hero," I was sitting at home in my underwear, watching a film called "One-Armed Swordsman" - directed by Chang Cheh and starring Jimmy Wang Yu, at their ultimate best. It's films like these that redefined the martial arts genre, even a few years before Bruce Lee would add his own touch. Yeah, it was made in 1968 and the fight scenes were not exactly swift and technical compared to today's standards; but I can tell you right now, this film has more balls and feels more like a martial arts movie than any overproduced Yuen Woo Ping-ized and/or Ching Siu Tung-ized flick in the last 5 or so years.
I forgive Jimmy Wang Yu for "Killer Meteors" and "Fantasy Mission Force." In fact, even his most noted post-Shaw Brothers classics like "Master of the Flying Guillotine" are shit in disguise compared to what he offers us in "One-Armed Swordsman." Sure, he's one of the most unskilled on-screen fighters of all time (in fact, he's never had any formal martial arts training at all). He's also one of the most notorious ("They call them Triads..." - Stanley White). Wang Yu's performance in this film is stellar; and it's no wonder why he practically became a household name and one of Shaw Brothers' most valuable properties. Robbed by Bruce? Probably not. Underrated achievement? I'd say so. Basically, if you want to see the role that Jimmy Wang Yu was probably born to play, look no further.
And what's there to say about director Chang Cheh that I haven't already said in past reviews? The guy was a fucking filmmaking genius, plain and simple. "One-Armed Swordsman" is just another example of a solid, action-packed classic that can only be done the way Chang Cheh can.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 9/10