Originally published in Asian Trash Cinema # 10
One Armed Against Nine Killers
Directed by Hsu Tsan-Hong

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. The movie is a follow up to One Armed Boxer. 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 that are just incredible translations. I would happily accept a position to translate for subtitling except I can't speak any Chinese. Sadly, subtitle's have not much improved 25 years later. High Risk[1995], the latest from Wong Jing, has some real funny translations.

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
VHS review copy supplied by Video Search of Miami.

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