Ma Yongzhen is a tough dude working shitty jobs with his useless friend Cheng Kang-Yeh. Ma is introduced beating up a landlord, so he’s got our sympathy, though he seems to beat up pretty much everyone he comes across… this is fine, since it’s established that everyone in town’s a crook. Ma has annoyingly high standards, is poor and homeless and will accept nothing from anyone – though as principled as he seems, his dream is to ride in his own carriage with a fancy cigarette holder. He wanders into a brutal gang fight and takes on 20 guys armed with knives and hatchets, which gains him the attention of the local bosses, beginning his brief, violent career in organized crime. He’s finally ambushed in a teahouse by Boss Yang (Nan Chiang) and takes a hatchet to the torso, but doesn’t go down before killing everyone in the room. Good action scenes – I could watch about 300 more of these movies, and fortunately that’s how many they made.
Ma and his idol David Chiang (Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires):
Scar-faced Boss Fan (Yi Feng of Fist of Fury the same year) and his yes-man:
Fang Kang is a loyal soldier, the lower-class son of a servant who died saving the master’s life. The master takes this seriously, but the younger generation does not, and master’s daughter Pei-er cuts off his arm. A bleeding Kang is rescued by a cute girl called Chiao Chiao who happens to guard a book of secret fighting techniques. He perfects his one-armed swordsmanship, returns in time to save his master from baddies Smiling Tiger (Ti Tang) and Long-Armed Devil (Chih-Ching Yang), who have been easily killing the master’s men by clamping their swords then knifing them with the other arm. Even after the master’s men see how this approach works, they keep getting killed because they have only one fighting tactic. One-arm with his broken sword is immune to the clamp, kicks everyone’s ass then retires with his Chiao.
Lot of people standing still and talking, but some inventive editing (between and within scenes) makes up for that somewhat. IMDB calls star Yu Wang “the first screen hero of modern Chinese cinema” and shows him appearing in seven one-armed movies (including major crossover Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman).