Thursday, April 3, 2008

The One-Armed Swordsman (1971)

Go here for a plot summary, but beware of spoilers.

The One-Armed Swordsman is regarded as a seminal 'wuxia' film, a subgenre of martial arts cinema that follows the exploits of noble, self-sacrificing swordsmen. This film marks the first time star Jimmy Wang Yu portrayed a one-armed martial artist, and is quite a bit better than a lot of what came after.

The fight choreography is good for the most part. My only nitpick has to do with the fact that it's fairly obvious to the viewer that Jimmy Wang Yu's character's 'missing' arm is clearly just strapped behind his back, but there probably really wasn't any way around this. You notice it less and less as the film goes on, so it ends up not really being that big of a deal.

The Region 1 DVD was produced by Dragon Dynasty, a company that just continues to impress me. I would have been satisfied to just get this in the original Chinese with a decent widescreen transfer; Dragon Dynasty gives us this and then does us one better by including lots of worthwhile extras at a budget price. Well worth the purchase for genre fans and fans of Chinese cinema alike.

This was the first film to ever make over a million dollars at the Chinese box office.

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