The grammar on the back of the Vengeance Video DVD release is enough to make you think twice about watching this later entry into the One-armed swordplay genre, but for fans of chop-socky classics, it is worth the watch!
While not perfect in any sense, the sheer value entertainment of its two main stars (and directors) should be enough confirmation that you'll have fun. Its rare that a Jimmy Wang Yu film will bore you, even more so when the guy is only sporting one arm. And then there is the charm and on-screen charisma of the new one armed swordsman, David Chaing who is always a treat to watch.
This is one film I'd love to have been in the production meetings for... With our directors/leads joining forces to create Wang Chaing Film Company (which no doubt only lasted the stretch of this production), the conversations on who was going to hit the screen first, carry the film, stand on the left or right, and ultimately, win the final battle - must have been interesting to say the least..!
Unfortunately this DVD print could have done with a bit of a clean up. Opening for the first minute or two in glorious letterbox widescreen, the film suddenly jumps to full screen with some dodgy grain and framing around the edges. Thankfully, things get going pretty quick which helps distract from the bad quality although does make me want to see a cleaned up HD version of it.
With some extra star-power in the shape of Lo Lieh and Chang Yi who fleet in and out throughout, and a couple of crazy plot twists, most of the story focuses on Jimmy Wang Yu's character following on from his story in the awesome Return Of The One Armed Swordsman. Teaming up with the always smirking David Chaing in a bid to find a one armed killer. This results in a few highlights, such as a crazy teahouse fight, Wang versus Chaing on a cliff top, and the latter taking on Lo Lieh. And that's all before the big final fight of course!
Obviously, when it comes to the fight scenes, its David Chaing that shines best. Wang Yu has always had a certain stiffness to his moves, offering somewhat of a raw approach in his hits. This is usually aided by lots of jumping about and somersaulting, but after years of watching him fight like this, you just expect it and it seems to work. David Chaing on the other hand who is a trained kung fu fighter, adds a bit more grace to his fights, with better kicks and stances overall as well as bringing his sword-of-fury technique he learnt in New One Armed Swordsman.
Ultimately it is Jimmy Wang Yu that wins my imaginary production meeting discussion, taking on the main bad guy alone who they find hiding in Shaolin Temple. Its a pretty good closing fight, with most of it taking place in a chicken house... While not the strongest of the vast collection of One Armed Swordsmen movies, I guess we could say this plays out like a traditional Chinese version of Sherlock Holmes. With Wang Yu as the Holmes character (which would also explain him getting the last fight alone), David Chaing most definitely is Watson - stealing a lot of the scenes he's in, and proving to be the better person at the end of the day.
Overall: The One Armed Swordsmen isn't perfect, but it is a lot of fun and worth a spot in the collection!
DVD Extras: Bonus fight scene (featuring David Chaing).