One-Armed Boxer


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When former Shaw Brothers executive Raymond Chow founded rival studio Golden Harvest in 1970, he quickly teamed up with “Jimmy” Wang Yu – Hong Kong’s first kung fu superstar and formerly Shaw’s biggest box office draw. Bringing over his peerless talent for taking on all foes with one hand tied behind his back, Wang wrote, directed and played the title role in one of his most unmissable kickass classics. From the legendary star of One-Armed Swordsman and The Chinese Boxer comes… One-Armed Boxer!

Yu Tian Long (Wang) is the best fighter to come out of his local martial arts school, but when he crosses the ruthless leader of a local crime syndicate, the big boss’ brutal bevy of deadly killers make mincemeat out of the school and everyone inside. Now the only survivor of the massacre, and short of one appendage, Yu is gifted a powerful elixir that promises to give him the strength to take swift revenge on the army of assassins, each representing the most lethal forms of fighting from across the Eastern hemisphere.

Proving once and for all that you only need five fingers of death to get the job done, Wang would later reprise his role in the infamous sequel Master of the Flying Guillotine, but it’s the dementedly inventive original where he’s arguably at the height of his powers.

Picture 7/10

Arrow Video presents “Jimmy” Wang Yu’s One-Armed Boxer on Blu-ray in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 on a dual-layer disc. The 1080p/24hz high-definition presentation is sourced from a new 2K restoration performed by Fortune Star.

Arrow’s notes only indicate the restoration was sourced from “original elements,” but I’d say a good chunk of the film was sourced from the negative, or, at the very least, a generation off. The majority of the film looks incredibly sharp, especially in close-ups, with nicely rendered details and textures, and this holds true to a lot of long shots as well. Chunks of the film, from quick shots to longer sequences, can have a slightly dupier look in comparison, likely coming from other elements, though the jump in quality isn’t all that significant. There are also off moments that look to be entrenched into the original photography, including the camera being slightly out-of-focus. Still, the restoration effort is solid enough, a majority of the picture looking clean, but marks and scratches that pop up, getting heavier in a few places. Grain appears to have been left mostly intact, with some slight noise reduction applied in places, but not to a point that impacts the image in a severe manner. On the whole, the grain is rendered well thanks to an excellent encode.

Colours look mostly fine but do have an under saturated look that leans teal, whites being incredibly rare. There are also moments where saturation levels seem to drop more, leading to colours having a bleached-out look, which I suspect may be related to the source elements. Black levels haven’t been impacted all that much, but some of the film’s darker scenes, particularly during some “training” moments much later in the film, feature limited range in the shadows, flattening the image.

In all the end image has some minor issues, mostly source related, but I thought this turned out well enough, or at least as well as can be expected.

Audio 6/10

Arrow includes three audio tracks, all in single-channel DTS-HD MA mono: one in English and then two in Mandarin. For some reason I found the English dub to be brutal, at least when it came to voice acting, so I was only able to sample it. Technically it’s fine, but there is a bit of reverb and a general flatness.

The two Mandarin tracks are also flat but better overall compared to the English track, the “original” Mandarin one maybe sounding a bit sharper. The difference between the two comes down to their respective scores, with the “original” one sampling heavier from Isaac Hayes’ score for Shaft, with John Barry’s James Bond offerings thrown in for good measure. The other track has some sampling but has more of what I guess could be called a traditional score. Sound quality doesn't vary too much so it will come down to personal preference in the end.

Extras 7/10

Arrow’s special edition throws in a couple of significant supplements that includes an audio commentary featuring Frank Djeng, which I believe was recorded originally for the UK edition of the film released by Eureka. It’s an amusing track, Djeng delivering an incredible amount of energy while he discusses the film, from its various influences (which includes a touch of Spaghetti Western) to its own influence on kung-fu films, before getting into its clear nationalism, represented through the villains coming from various nationalities and cultures. He also covers the founding of Golden Harvest, the studio behind the film, and touches on Shaw Brothers, who would occasionally make things difficult for the other studio, and he naturally goes over Wang Yu’s career, mentioning notable roles and commenting on his directing style here, which owes a little to Chang Cheh, at least in how it uses women in the story. Djeng does barrel through things, leading to moments where he’ll quickly shift topics, but he still manages to keep things focused well enough and scene-specific. I’m not sure just how much I ultimately got from this, but I at least found it entertaining.

Exclusive to this edition is 41-minutes’ worth of excerpts from a 2001 interview with Wang Yu, recorded by filmmaker Frédéric Ambroisine. This apparently marks the first time the footage has been shown, though I can’t confirm that. The interview, conducted in English, features Wang talking about getting into acting and working at Shaw before moving over to Golden Harvest, which led to a bit of friction between Wang and his former employer. He also talks a little about Boxer, some of his more famous roles, his friendships and working relationships with the likes of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, and comments a little on how films have changed in the years since his heyday. He also addresses several rumours, like if he is somehow linked to the Triads.

It’s a great retrospective of his career but it’s hampered by one unfortunate drawback: the audio is in horrible shape. Arrow’s notes warn of this beforehand, indicating they fixed it as best they could, but the audio drops, pops, and cracks all throughout. The footage looks to be digital, so I must wonder if the files became corrupted or there were issues during the original recording. It’s admittedly a bit obnoxious, but if you can get past it it’s a worthwhile interview.

Closing off the disc is the alternate English-language credits, which is similar to the title sequence in the original film but with all-English titles and without the Shaft music. There is also a small gallery featuring photos, lobby cards, samples from a press book and posters featuring the English-language alternate title The Chinese Professionals. The U.S. TV spot and U.S. radio spot also feature that alternate title (both promising the film is a cross between The Dirty Dozen and The Magnificent Seven), while the Hong Kong trailer features the original title. Arrow also includes a Wang Yu trailer gallery, featuring 34-minutes worth of footage, and includes trailers for The One-Armed Swordsman, The Golden Swallow, Return of the One-Armed Swordsman, The Chinese Boxer, Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman, The Screaming Tiger, The Man from Hong Kong, Blood Of The Dragon, Master of the Flying Guillotine (a sequel to One-Armed Boxer) and Point Of The Finger of Death. The inclusion of these trailers should not be taken as any sort of indicator that Arrow is releasing them since Criterion released the Zatoichi film in their box set.

The included booklet (limited to first pressings) then includes an essay by David West covering Wang’s contribution to kung-fu films, followed by an essay on the film by Simon Abrams.

Ultimately it’s slim on features but together everything does an adequate job covering the film and Wang’s career.


Not a stacked edition, but Arrow still includes a couple of worthwhile features along with a nice looking presentation for the film.


Directed by: Jimmy Wang Yu
Year: 1972
Time: 93 min.
Series: Arrow Video
Licensor: Fortune Star
Release Date: May 24 2022
MSRP: $39.95
1 Disc | BD-50
2.35:1 ratio
English 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono
Mandarin 1.0 DTS-HD MA Mono
Subtitles: English
Regions A/B/C
 Original lossless Mandarin mono audio, alternate Mandarin soundtrack and original English dubbed audio   Commentary by Frank Djeng from the NY Asian Film Festival   Career retrospective interview with Jimmy Wang Yu, filmed in Nantes in 2001 and never released before, courtesy of the Frédéric Ambroisine Video Archive   Honk Kong trailer   U.S. TV Spot   Over half an hour of trailers for other Wang Yu classics including One-Armed Swordsman and Master of the Flying Guillotine   Image gallery   FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by Simon Abrams