HK Cinema - 1967

With the One Armed Swordsman, the action and violence levels in HK films increased dramatically. By comparison previous martial art films feel almost quaint. There may have been a great deal of fighting but little graphic violence as compared to this film. Jimmy Wang Yu as the star and Chang Cheh as director included large elements of the Japanese chambara films. The sword films from Japan – Zatoichi and The Black Mass series for example were filled with incredible amounts of fast and furious cutting action. One interesting difference between the two styles of sword fighting that still exists is that the Japanese sword fights tend to be very quick and deadly, while the HK films extend these fights over longer periods.
The Shaw Brothers produced this and its success – the first film to gross more than $1mm in HK – led to Shaw moving into the martial arts genre with a vengeance. The One Armed Swordsman is a well-known story of a man losing his arm and teaching himself to fight with his other arm in order to gain revenge. It has been redone recently in Tsui Hark’s The Blade.

Chang Cheh the director was to become one of the most influential and prolific of Shaw’s kung-fu directors. He had been working in the HK film industry for nearly two decades, but it was this film that began creating his legendary status. He brought an incredibly ferocity and fluidity to his action scenes. He followed this film up with Golden Swallow (aka Girl with THE Thunderbolt Kick) in 1968 that starred Pei Pei as the same character as in Come Drink with Me. This film starred Jimmy Wang Yu as well.