If you’re like me, when you saw the first One Armed Swordsman movie, you couldn’t help but be impressive by how well done a classic it is. Naturally I was ready for my second serving! Well the One Armed Swordsman has returned!
They say that sequels rarely surpass the original – well guess what? This is the perfect example of why people say that.
Crappy action and a mediocre plot make ‘The Return’ pretty unimpressive.
The character of Fang Gang, the one armed swordsman (played by Jimmy Wang Yu) is as wholesome as righteous as ever, choosing to live life as a farmer and refusing to enter the world of martial arts after promising his wife he wouldn’t.
So there’s bad guys about, challenging martial artists to fights, to spread the word of their power and bring their services under their umbrella – to impose some kind of control of the area. Naturally the one armed fella, who is now famous for his skill, is approached but he declines their offer.
Before long another group of friendlies has their master kidnapped and must give Fang Gang a call to help out. He finally agrees but one of the men kidnaps his wife without his peers knowing, to force him to help out.
Naturally he gets pretty pissed off but things get complicated he ends up helping out anyway, as they all work together to free the master of this group of martial artists and send the bad guys packing.
Why it just doesn’t compare
Fang Gang is the same as the previous film in terms of character and performance, but the value his character brought to the screen hasn’t been written for him.
In the first film Fang Gang dealt with overcoming his disability, and took a look at the difference in approach he must take as a martial artist to continue his training and keep his abilities at their peak. Beyond that the struggle to leave his own life behind, and choose between the promise to his wife and the lives of those who raised him made things so much deeper and interesting.
This is just another film where there’s evil Kung Fu masters out to take over and everyone looks to the strongest guy for help – Fang Gang. He’s become a another two dimensional character with only one difference – he has one arm. His missing arm s is hardly touched upon throughout the film also, with it offering only a a visual ‘uniqueness’ to his character.
Overall it’s not bad for a ‘stock-standard’ kung fu film, but just doesn’t break any new ground like the first. It was pretty disappointing and takes a step backward in every aspect.
The Martial Arts
This is one of those old kung fu movies with crappy wire work that stands out a lot.
While not all of the action is bad and is sometimes passable, there’s a few scenes where Fang Gang seems to be almost yanked from his position into the air, before switching to a shot that is obviously reversed.
His strength and abilities have become superhuman since his last adventure, as the laws gravity and science are switched off as he sees fit.
The ‘better’ fight scenes are pretty standard and relatively entertaining. The movie is not a complete loss as long as you don’t have the high expectations I did after watching the first. It’s not really a classic in my opinion though, just another factory made piece of cinema pumped out to squeeze some money from.
On Blu Ray –
Region A (US & Canada)
Return of the One Armed Swordsman [Blu-ray]
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Return Of The One-Armed Swordsman