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After his father was killed by the treacherous Long-Armed Tiger in a
fight, Fang Gang (Jimmy Wang Yu) was brought up by Master Ru Feng
(Tien feng), an expert in martial arts & swordfighting who trained
Fang Gang to be a swordmaster. & Fang Gang always carries the broken
sword of his father with him, to remember where he came from ...
However, Ru Feng's daughter Pei-er (Pan Ying-tzu) & his disciples,
all spoilt brats, think little about the dead serious Fang Gang &
constantly tease him - teasing that eventually leads so far that Pei-er,
rather accidently, chops off his right arm. In shock, Fang Gang runs
away& she isn't woman enough to go after the man who is probably
bleeding to death ...
... fortunately though, Fang Gang falls into the boat of Xiao Wan
(Chiao Chiao), a farmgirl who saves his life & nurses him back to
health, & she offers him to stay with her, which seems a good idea
since the 2 have fallen in love ...
But when 2 disciples of Master Cheng, a local martial artist, try to
rape Xiao Wan & he can do little to help her, Fang Gang realizes how
useless he is without a right arm. (Xiao Wan by the way was saved by
Master Cheng himself, who called his disciples to order.)
Soon after that, Fang Gang trains himself to be a left-handed
swordfighter, & need I say it, before long he is quite good ...
Meanwhile Master Ru Feng plans to step down from being Master of the
martial arts world on his 55th birthday & announce his successor in a
big celebration where all his disciples are to be present ... but someone
has heard of that & has hired Master Cheng to kill off Ru Feng's
disciples. Soon several of them die mysterious deaths, & Master Cheng
takes Ru Feng's daughter Pei-er prisoner.
When Fang Gang hears of that, he sets out for Master Cheng's &
frees her after a bloody fight, even though she has chopped off his arm.
For some reason, Pei-er thinks he did it out of love for her, but he only
detests her & tells her he only did it out of respect for her father
Xiao Wan has overheard part of his conversation with Pei-er & gets
jealous, but he promises her there is nothing between him & Pei-er,
& to prove it he wants to quit the martial arts world & together
with Xiao Wan leave the region & start anew somewhere else.
It's only when Fang Gang & Xiao Wan are already on their way that
he learns of a plot to kill Master Ru Feng & his disciples at his 55th
birthday celebration ... & he has to break his promise to leave the
martial arts world behind, & rush to save Ru Feng, out of undieing
It seems, Fang Gang is already too late, since Master Cheng & his
disciples have killed most of Ru Feng's disciples, & Cheng's employer
- the Long-Armed Tiger himself of course, who has killed Fang Gang's
father of course - has defeated Ru Feng in a fight. But all is not lost
yet, since Fang Gang almost effortlessly fights down all of Long-Armed
Tigers disciples, then takes on Long-Armed Tiger himself ... &
ultimately stabs him to death with his fathers broken sword ...
Out of gratitude, Ru Feng offers him to become Master of the martial
arts world in his stead, but Fang Gang refuses, ore eager to become a
farmer with Xiao Wan, the woman he loves, & leave the martial arts
world behind for good ... but for how long, one wonders.
Upon its release, One-Armed Swordsman was an enormous success at
the box office, as it combined dynamic martial arts direction (as opposed
to the static martial arts of most other films of its time), violent
fights & a macho storyline in a way that few other films did
back then (but many would do after this one) & it paved the way to
stardom for Jimmy Wang Yu.
Seen from today's poitn of view however, the film hasn't stood the test
of time too well: Especially the over-emphasis on Jimmy Wang Yu's loyalty
towards his master, putting it over his own good without it ever been
questioned is ... well, questionable at best & does actually hurt the
narration of the movie (as a matter of fact, especially in Chang Cheh's
early films the overemphasis on honour, loyalty & responsibility -
invariably unquestioned -, is a bit annoying). What remains are a few fine
fight scenes, a few hacked off limbs & a one-armed hero - which of
course is better than nothing.