I love the implausibility in the set-up of THE ONE ARMED SWORDSMEN, yet another 'one armed' movie starring Jimmy Wang Yu (and fellow Shaw Brothers star David Chiang, too, for good measure!). You see, in this film there are no less than FOUR one-armed fighters who just so happen to be living and congregating around some small village in rural China. Now, what are the chances of that? The film itself is an elaborate and old-fashioned romp that attempts to recapture some of the old Shaw magic, although given that it was made on a lower budget in Taiwan, it's not quite the same. Wang Yu seems to have made a career of playing one-armed guys although his character in this one is fairly ordinary and outshone by the other principal actors: David Chiang as a cheeky and enigmatic rival, and Lo Lieh as a man hiding secrets.
The action isn't quite as plentiful as you'd expect from a Wang Yu film, although the bits that do take place are well staged (the cliff top fight in silhouette is a nice touch). The story begins with a chest full of costume jewellery being attacked by bandits and the guards massacred; following this, there's an outlandish moment in which a teacher is murdered by some bizarre wooden men. The plot then consolidates into a whodunit with the requisite twists and turns, although the identity of the murderer isn't tough to guess. There are not one but two interludes in restaurants in which characters attempting to wine and dine are set upon by thugs, dressed as cave men in one inexplicable touch. The choreography is basic but enlivened by brief blood-spraying gore. The buddy humour between Wang Yu and Chiang sees it through, and the western-style music adds to the fun.
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