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An evil gang attacks the Chi school of Golden Sword Kung Fu. One student sacrifices his life to save his teacher and his school, his dying wish is that his son be taken in as a student. Young Fang Kang grows up in the school and treasures his father's broken sword and the memory of his father's sacrifice. The other students (including the teacher's daughter) resent him and try to drive him away. The teacher's daughter challenges him to a fight and when he refuses she becomes enraged and recklessly chops off his arm! He retreats, broken and bloody, and is found by a young poor girl living alone who nurses him back to health. Meanwhile, the evil gang who originally attacked the Golden Sword school develops a weapon that renders the Golden Sword useless and starts killing off all of the schools students. Fang Kang eventually recovers with the girl's help but must now face a life with only one arm. Will he be able to recover and live to defend the school as his father did? Written by
Fred Cabral <email@example.com>
A Nutshell Review: (DVD) One-Armed Swordsman (1967)
There are tonnes of wuxia stories and films out there, it's quite difficult to be established as one of the classics. One-Armed Swordsman happens to be one of the best remembered and loved stories that defined wuxia, and it is no doubt that actor Wang Yu and director Chang Cheh were made household names.
Common themes in wuxia like brotherhood, romance, piety, revenge are all rolled into One-Armed Swordsman. A son of a servant who died valiantly protecting his master, Qi Rufeng of the Golden Sword Clan, Fang Gang (Want Yu) was brought up by Qi Rufeng as one of his disciples, but his daughter Qi Pei-er accidentally chops off Fang Gang's right arm in a fit of petty anger.
Running away and injured, Fang Gang was saved by a village girl Hsiao Man, who nurses him back to health, and passes to him half a sacred kung fu manual, which has only the left-handed moves left (yes, it's that convenient). Swearing to leave the martial arts world and minding his own business, little does he realize that a rival clan has developed weapons and moves to counter the Golden Sword Clan, and are out for blood.
Realizing that he cannot let down the master who has brought him up, Fang Gang goes to their rescue, against the wishes of Hsiao Man. Caught between two benefactors, Fang Gang has to make the decision, one in which only a true swordsman will definitely make.
The martial arts, compared to today's standards might seem cheesy, but it's the good old days sans wire work. The teahouse fight remains one of the better sequences, and they all get as bloody as they can get, hence Chang Cheh was also known as the "ketchup" director. You'll marvel at how smart editing actually allows for some "slick" martial arts moves to be performed.
Characters are kept simple - the good are good, and the bad are really evil, and look the part too. It's a one dimensional world, but that keeps the storyline simple as you await the action to begin.
So for that introductory look into the world of Wuxia, One-Armed Swordsman might just be the vehicle for you - characters, themes, weapons, the hallmark elements of a good wuxia film are all there.
This Code 3 DVD contains a behind the scenes gallery, the trailers, production notes and biographies, and a segment on 5 animated works done by various educational institutions in Asia. The winning segment comes from Singapore, and it indeed is a beauty to watch.
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