Film Review – One Armed Boxer (1972)

Japanese martial arts movies have a long history with disabled protagonists. Most famously was The Tale of Zatoichi, about a fearless blind swordsman whose skills impressed so much that a franchise was made. Then came The One-Armed Swordsman which paved the way for more nuanced martial arts films and made legends of its director and star. Now One Armed Boxer is coming to Blu-ray and it’s got all the ingredients to make a great, albeit typical martial arts movie.

When Master Hang Tui (Ma Kei) gets involved with a rivalry between his students and a local criminal gang calling themselves The Hook Gang, a war erupts between the two groups. However, Hang Tui’s students seem to have met their match, so Chao Liu (Yeh Tien) the leader of the hook gang hires a group of mercenaries and martial arts experts from around the world to take care of Hang Tui’s school.

Then after one fight where Hang Tui’s best pupil, Yu Tien Lang (Jimmy Wang Yu) loses an arm, it seems all is lost until he learns to train his remaining arm to become unstoppable and he single-handedly (pun intended) takes down Chao Liu’s gang.

One Armed Boxer is the kind of Japanese martial arts movie that most people would expect when they think of the genre. The movie is unashamedly over the top, unintentionally funny at moments and there are certainly some things that were more acceptable back then there are now that happens in the movie. The plot (however thin) gives the audience the opportunity to watch a series of fight scenes which escalate in its ridiculousness with every fight.

Various races from all around Asia get their own unique take, including two Siamese (twins) fighters, mysterious Tibetan fighters and an Indian yoga expert (death by downward dog?) are all showcased as the film reaches its finale. One Armed Boxer gives its audience everything they would have been expecting, leading the much hilarity and even a little of Isaac HayesShaft theme infused into the soundtrack. A martial arts film that’s a lot of fun, just don’t think too hard about that plot.

Action, World Cinema | China, 1972 | 18 | Blu-Ray | 24th May 2021 (UK) | Eureka Entertainment | Dir.Jimmy Wang Yu | Jimmy Wang Yu, Yeh Tien, Hsin Tang