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獨臂拳王勇戰楚門九子 (1976)
One Armed Against Nine Killers

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 05/31/2006

Jimmy Wang Yu struts through this movie like James Cagney in a gangster role—completely sure of himself, knowing exactly what he needs to do, just a bit unhinged and always deadly. “One Armed Swordsman vs. Nine Killers” has the most straightforward plot imaginable: Wang Yu, as Liu Ching Wu is searching for the nine men who killed his family. As he encounters one he kills him and then continues his quest. While there are a few distractions along the way—he twice encounters the same woman and each time she is bound with ropes; four comically inept “killers” get in his way for a few minutes; most importantly he runs across a chess game played by a local warlord using men for pieces. The warlord takes an immediate dislike to Liu Ching Wu and offers to play a game with the loser killing himself. Liu, as single-minded as Ulysses on his way back from Troy, tells the warlord that he had more important things to do—he has only killed two of the nine men he is after.

There are a few additional surprises along the way. Liu meets yet another person whose entire family was killed on the orders of Mr. Chu but refuses to join forces with him in attacking their common enemy, this setting up the (almost) final battle. In keeping with the ethos of Hong Kong martial arts movies, Liu is merciless with his enemies, in one instance holding one of the killers on the edge of a cliff until the killer tells him where to find Mr. Chu, then tossing him into the gorge below. There are surprises galore in the last few minutes of the film, all but one of which were well set up by the action that came beforehand. The one that makes no sense, Wang Yu’s “other-armedness” simply happens.

The bad guys never really learn from the mistakes of those who perished before them. In each case the killer who confronts Liu knows that he has already killed one or more (by the end many more) trained assassins but in each case still utters some variation of the statement, “You can’t kill me—you only have one arm and no sword”. Each of them dies soon after showing his contempt for the Liu. Some lovely touches including a prostitute/assassin who shuffles off her mortal coil via a wooden serving platter imbedded in her throat and a retired killer with a major domo whose function is to shout what his master wants while standing next to him.

The copy we watched, apparently the only one around, is from a video tape that was pretty sharp but with inconsistent color and lots of speckles. No opening or closing credits, no subtitles although the drubbing was not really intrusive and served to accompany the action pretty well.

There is a terrific cast of Shaw Brothers regulars and excellent action choreography with little of the undercranked sped-up footage that became common. Recommended for fans of Wang Yu and Lo Lieh.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 05/30/2004

This film is a spin-off of the "One Armed" series started by the great Chang Cheh in 1967 with One Armed Swordsman. Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, this film is produced by Shen Hsiao-Yin, with martial arts supervision by the acrobatic Wang Yu. Once you see some of Jimmy's kungfu, you will know one of Jet Li's influence's. This time around Jimmy doesn't do much sword-play, relying instead on a one armed fist style to defeat his opponents. He is seeking revenge (no kidding!!) against disciples of Chu Chiu-Tzu who killed his family (I think) and cut off his arm (I think).

The script by Yao Chin-Kang keeps things lively and moving along. All the usual great stuff is present here; Double-crosses, revenge, trickery, double double-crosses, prostitutes and madams, "flying" kungfu (pre-wire), snappy dialogue between combatants with classic 70's subtitles.

The action starts off right away with Jimmy's character, Liu, challenging the first killer, Meng, on a bridge at night. This killing gets the Chu Party pretty pissed and the fun begins. There is a sequence involving a "chess" match with Meng's Uncle. Liu wins the chess match and defeats the Uncle, who commits suicide in disgrace for having lost a match to a one-armed fighter. The suicide sets up a very cool plot twist in the final scenes. Liu continues his quest, meeting and beating his foes as he goes on his way.

There are a lot of funny bits of business in this film. One scene involves a giant sword, so big it must be carried by two servants indicating the prowess of the killer using it. This is a scene used in many swordsman films but this sword is so big Liu's opponent can hardly wield it. It's a riot! Of course this sword fighter is no match for One Arm. Liu also comes across some incredibly sexy gender-bending monks. He rescues a woman, Shui Lan-Lan, who was left tied down in the hot sun for refusing to wed one of Chu's killers. Liu takes revenge for the girl, killing 4 more of Chu's killers (including "Twin Swordsmen"). He is struck by a poison dart and Shui is given the chance to rescue him. After nursing him back to health, Shui joins with Liu in search for the evil Chu.

OAANK also features Lo Lieh who was paired with Jimmy Wang in many films. He appears here as a killer also seeking revenge against the evil Chu. They join together in the search for the mysterious Chu who does not appear until the final battle. Unseen, he commands his killers through a speaking pipe much like a ship captain giving orders to the engine room. Finally, Liu meets up with Chu and the real fun begins. This film runs 89 minutes and the last third is outstanding. Super kungfu, "butterfly sword", "flying knife", a flute that shoots poison darts, and decapitation by serving tray are just a few of the stunts here. If you want to see what Tsui Hark and Jet Li used to see when they were kids, then this is a good place to start.

Copyright © 1995 - J. Crawford

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: jackfu01
Date: 01/07/2003
Summary: Good Wang Yu film with nice surprise ending

Wang Yu again plays a one-armed swordsman (not the same one from the One Armed Swordsman series) in this film in which we're told he actually hacked off his own left arm (notice he normally loses his right arm in these films) to keep himself pure in his martial pursuits. The storyline was hard to follow for me as the subtitles were nearly unintelligible and I don't speak Chinese. In typical Wang Yu fashion, the fights are intense and innovative; in fact he fights not only one-armed, but unarmed-he battles sword-wielding foes with only his bare hand and beats them all. His battle with the main villain is memorable, particularly when his one remaining arm is cut off. The surprise is in how he still manages to kill the bad guy. I enjoyed this one even with the poor subtitles.