The One-Armed Swordsman (1967): So, I was a little worried that by accidentally watching the third movie in the sequence first (The One Armed Swordsmen) we might have somehow spoiled this one.
No, we were fine.
Overall plot : a servant saves his master’s life. To repay the debt the son of the servant is admitted to the master’s household. And then trained at his fighting school. The master’s daughter is, I think, supposed to be sweet on him. However she is just angry that he doesn’t seem to return the feeling. Egged on by two other bullies who seem to just plain dislike him, the young woman challenges him to a duel.
All four of them go to the woods in winter. The duel happens and the young man easily defeats her. So in a fit of anger, she strikes out wildly and cuts off his right arm. He flees. The master turns up and they track him to a bridge, where the blood trail shops. He has fallen, it’s true, but luckily into a passing boat. Another young woman takes him home and nurses him back to health.
A good part of the movie is about him coming to terms with his life changing injury. At first he is bullied as he cannot defend himself. Luckily the young woman has a secret book focusing on combat with the left hand, so there is a long training montage.
Meanwhile, a rival fighting school has developed a secret weapon against the fighting school of his former master. Because of course. The secret weapon is essentially a litter picker, designed to grab the right handed sword (signature style) of the opponent, leaving them mysteriously unable to do anything else.
I’m sure you can see where this is going, so I’ll let you figure the rest out. In terms of plot arc, this one sticks a little more to usual drumbeats. There are no sudden bleaknesses as we found in The Bells of Death. It is a small shame that given the actor plays a character with just one arm for most of the movie, the actor definitely has two arms and, sometimes reasonably obviously, has his right arm under his shirt.
Perhaps it is unwise to judge movies from the past by my standards of today. I mean, I could also point out there are two lead (ish) female characters, but one is weak and spoilt, the other is subversient and meek, but I already know that this genre, of that time, is not big on that sort of representation either.
In any case, The One-Armed Swordsman (1967) was thoroughly watchable.