The second in Chang Cheh's trilogy, following The One-Armed Swordsman ('67), preceding The New One-Armed Swordsman ('71)
For a couple of years, Jimmy Wang Yu has lived a peaceful life with his wife (and one arm) on a farm, but when an invitation for a strange tournament arrives, he knows he'll soon have to take up his sword again (luckily he has been training all the time).
For me the least interesting part of the trilogy, it lacks the emotional impact of the first movie, as well as the high energy (and better storytelling) of the third entry (with David Chiang). I know, scripts were hardly ever of high interest within SB cinema, but in this case it's still attached to the all too traditional storyline about a tournament. You often have the idea that in those days half of the population of China was preparing for a tournament in which the other half would be beaten to death or hacked to pieces.
The first movie had this dramatic loss of the arm, and the psychological battle of the one-armed protagonist picking up his life again. The third movie, would have a more interesting story of a man who has given up his sword, but is forced to take it up again when his friend is killed. Here the story is a bit suffocated by the predictability of the tournament plot. Otherwise it's of course an above-average achievement, Chang Cheh (nearly) always knew what he was doing. It's also the bloodiest of the three movies. Hardly ever seen so many cherry red blood spilt. Ever watched this one, Mr. Tarantino?
Incredibly bloody and with more bizarre weapons on display than in any other movie of its kind, Return of the One-Armed Swordsman is minor, but entertaining Shaw movie.
There also a scene that seems to have influenced a key scene in The House of the Flying Daggers