This breathtaking swordplay and kung-fu epic is notable for more than one reason. First off, it was one of the first big hits for director Chang Cheh and set the tone for the many kung-fu hits he would later direct. One Armed Swordsman remains a stunningly well-crafted piece of work thanks to his inspired direction: Cheh keeps the complexly plotted tale moving forward at a skillfully modulated pace, and in the process, delivers a collection of stunning action scenes that grow ever more complex in choreography and length. One Armed Swordsman is also notable for kick-starting the career of star Jimmy Wang Yu. As the film's resourceful hero, Wang Yu exhibits the right combination of acting chops and machismo to create a protagonist who is just as compelling in the dramatic scenes as he is in the action sequences. The combination of a director and a star both delivering top-flight work helps make One Armed Swordsman a classic of its genre: its stylized look gives it the the feel of an adult fairy tale brought to life, Wang Yu's performance keeps the viewer emotionally invested in the film's unusual plot, and the sharply choreographed swordplay and martial arts scenes remain as exciting as ever. In short, One Armed Swordsman is well worth a look for anyone interested in classic kung-fu cinema and a must for students of the form.
by Donald Guarisco synopsis