sWuM (1971)
The New One-Armed Swordsman


Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 07/22/2006
Summary: Too much to live up to

Cocky young double-swordsman Lei Li (David Chiang) is framed for a robbery he did not commit, and accepts an “honour fight” with local hero Lung and his three-sectioned staff, with the loser to chop his own right arm off and retire from the martial arts world. Lei Li loses, and despite Lung telling him he can keep his arm for all he cares, Lei whips off the said limb without a second thought. Further intrigue follows when it turns out that Lung’s men were behind the robbery in the first place and he’s not such a hero after all. Another young hero adept at the twin sword technique (Hero Fung, played by Ti Lung) turns up to help Lei seek revenge.

“Jimmy” Wang-Yu had already left Shaw Brothers in search of obscurity by the time this film was made, so a new hero was needed. The obvious choice (and indeed, perhaps the ONLY choice) was David Chiang. Chiang would follow Wang-Yu in his own pursuit of severely mediocre to downright awful films outside the Shaw studio a few years later.

So no Wang-Yu and plenty of David Chiang…Hurrahs all round then?

Actually, no. I hate to say it, but I kind of missed Jimbo and his tiny-mouthed Hero Fang character with his stubby broken sword. There’s nothing wrong with David Chiang in this film, but there’s too much for him to live up to. The production values are high, the script isn’t bad and there are some cracking massacres along the way, but this does feel like it was building up to something that never happened. What I mean is it feels like this was a film to start a new franchise and it never took off. Maybe the public’s lust for one-armed antics had been sated by the time this film was made (Wang-Yu’s ONE ARMED BOXER came out the same year) and it was time to move on. I would have loved to have seen a “Return of the New One-Armed Swordsman” though, purely for the title!

I also missed the theme tune from the first two films. It has been replaced here by a bafflingly contemporary (to 1971) soundtrack, complete with what sounds suspiciously like a sitar (or an electric guitar played through an effects pedal). Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right.

Hero Lung is an interesting character. Although the main bad guy, he actually doesn’t come across as totally evil like you would imagine, and even builds a nice shrine for one of his defeated foes (who dies a particularly gruesome death that only Chang Cheh could deliver). Sad to say, though, that apart from him and the David Chiang / Ti Lung double act, the rest of the cast are a little dull. The action is solid throughout, though, and is worth seeing if only for the blood-drenched finale, which takes place on a rather impressive looking bridge.

David Chiang’s character would ultimately team up with Wang-Yu’s Master Fang from the first two films and make ONE-ARMED SWORDSMEN, a project which must have looked GREAT on paper!

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 12/29/2005
Summary: 8/10

Not a sequel to the Jimmy Wang Yu films, but a whole new story about a swordsman with one arm. David Chiang is master of twin sword style, but after being defeated by Ku Feng he chops off his own arm and retires from the martial arts world, but when injustice is served he unretires himself and strikes back. A good enough story with very high production values (that huge outdoor set they also used in Water Margin surely wasn't custom built by Shaws?) and some fun action. Solid martial arts film, if not as grand or creative as the first two parts. The major omission, for me, was that the film never covers David Chiang training to adapt to his one-armedness (as Jimmy Wang Yu adapted by training his speed). He just seems naturally invincible with one arm or two!

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 12/22/2004
Summary: Agree with battlemonkey

The movie was not as good as a remember it but i didn't remember the one man army massacre a whole clan!! The ending was a little different which helped the movie overall but otherwise you see David Chiang just brooding and being depressed for most of the movie

6.25/10

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: sarah
Date: 12/15/2001
Summary: Moody and gorgeous

A very brooding David Chiang plays Lei Li who chops his own arm off in a fit of hubris after losing a duel. He gives up being a master swordsman, gets a job as a waiter and sulks furiously until the incandescant Ti Lungs' Feng Junjie turns up. These two bond in an orgy of brotherly love which sets the stage for the one armed swordsman to go really mental when Ti Lung is dismembered by the same guy who originally caused him to chop his own arm off. Both stars look even more spectacular than usual in Ming dynasty top-knots. One of the best things about the Shaws movies was the huge stockpile of costumes and scenery in their backlot featuring stunning vistas of Clearwater Bay and in this film, an amazing clifftop fortress. They had a whole Ming dynasty village in their backyard and an endless supply of cheap labour. The results are glorious. This film is also David Chiangs' finest hour, at least from what I've seen.


Reviewed by: battlemonkey
Date: 12/21/1999

David Chiang takes on the role of the one-armed avenger, or therole of a new one-armed avenger. Apparently, there were five or six million one-armed swordsmen wandering around China at some point in history. The magic just isn't there despite several bloody battles.