Retro Review: ‘One-Armed Swordsmen’

In 1967, Jimmy Wang Yu was launched into martial arts movie stardom thanks to the Shaw Brothers classic One Armed Swordsman. While he starred in a number of kick-ass flicks, he certainly found a niche playing uni-limbed sword-wielders and would continue this even after his time at Shaw Brothers came to an end thanks to infamous bad behavior. In 1976 he would star in a movie where he would be one of four one-armed swordsmen in the appropriately titled One-Armed Swordsmen.

When a legendary hero is killed by a one-armed rival his protégé is left as the sole witness looking for the killer. As it happens two legendary swordsmen, Fong Ping and Li Hao each one arm come into town for an inevitable battle with one another. However, they form a truce for the sake of helping taking down the murderer.

While One-Armed Swordsmen may star, Jimmy Wang Yu and fellow Shaw alumni David Chiang who co-directed this flick, it is clear the production value is not on the level of their earlier works. Things are not helped by the convoluted mystery plot. However the movie more than makes up for it with action. Each fight scene in this film is executed with an abundance of energy making them pure chaotic fun. In particular a raucous throwdown in a restaurant where Fong Ping and Li Hao form a truce to take down a gang is an absolute blast.

While this is far from a perfect film, Jimmy Wang Yu and David Chiang are always a treat for kung-fu movie fans. In the case of One-Armed Swordsmen Chiang has no problem stealing the show bringing a kinetic energy to the role. While the movie is far from perfect great action and some unintentionally hilarious dialogue ensures its entertainment value is high.