Eye For Film >> Movies >> One-Armed Executioner (1980) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Ortega is a sometime interpol agent recently married and enjoying a quieter life when a drug smuggling operation requires his attention. Unfortunately, the men he's messing with don't like over-zealous investigators, and one night they take him by surprise. With his wife dead and his arm amputated, he feels he has nothing left to live for - but of course, it's only a matter of time until he's ready to seek revenge.
The One-Armed Executioner is a classic slice of Asian grindhouse, utterly predictable from start to finish but no less enjoyable because of it. It's unmistakably trash, yet Suarez's confident technique does wonders with the tiny budget, creating some striking images. Franco Guerrero creates a likeable hero whom we can sympathise with through vicious violence and unintentional comedy alike. Though it probably never set out to be as funny as it is today, this film clearly doesn't take itself too seriously, which makes its shoddy sets and generally awful acting easier to forgive.
The biggest problem with this film is that it takes a long time to get going. After the early action sequence which sets up the plot, we have to wait a long time even to see Ortega enter training, and the training sequences themselves were overfamiliar even in their time. When it does get going, however, it keeps up the pace nicely, with a series of energetic encounters full of inventive martial arts trickery. Improvised weapons and smart use of surroundings mean that the fights are always fresh and inventive. There are also a couple of good chase sequences which make effective use of dramatic local landscapes.
The One-Armed Executioner is by no means good cinema, but it's a great piece of entertainment if you like this sort of thing. Sleazy and cheesy but wearing its heart on its sleeve, it has no pretensions of being anything but throwaway fun.Reviewed on: 30 May 2007
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