The Kid with the Golden Arm
Year of release: 1979
Genre: martial arts
Director: Chang Cheh
Action directors: Chiang Sheng, Lu Feng, Robert Tai
Producer: Mona Fong
Writers: Ni Kuang, Chang Cheh
Cinematography: Cho Wai-Kei
Editing: Lee Yim-Hoi, Chiang Hsing-Lung
Music: Eddie Wang
Stars: Sun Chien, Phillip Kwok, Lo Meng, Lu Feng, Johnny Wang Lung-Wei, Yueng Hung, Suen Shu-Pau, Wai Pak, Helen Poon, Dick Wei
Not rated; contains IIB-level violence
Movie Review Index
For the 1979 martial arts release The Kid with the Golden Arm, legendary Shaw Brothers studio director Chang Cheh reunited most of the heralded "Venoms Clan". While Chang's work here doesn't deviate too much from his usual formula, that's not necessarily a bad thing. For fans of old school kung fu, this is a great example of the genre and well worth checking out.
The film revolves around a delivery of 200,000 taels of gold being guarded by a company run by Yang Hu Yun (Sun Chien). The gold is being eyed by a dangerous group of bandits known as Death Valley, who are led by the notorious Golden Arm Kid (Lo Meng), so Yang enlists the aid of a group of mercenaries, as well as a drunken but tough as nails sheriff, Hai To (Phillip Kwok).
The Kid with the Golden Arm doesn't break the mold when it comes to kung fu movies. The story is disposable for the most part, really only serving to provide a bridge to the next action scene. Acting-wise, none of the participants here really stretch their wings, with most of the characters being fun and interesting, but nothing all that memorable. And is par for the course of a Shaw Brothers production, matters here look to be on the cheap side, with most of the action contained to a few sets, many of which are simply recycled from other Shaw Brothers releases.
But when it comes to the fight sequences, The Kid with the Golden Arm is a prime example of why many people still view martial arts movies produced from this period as the pinnacle of the art of onscreen portrayal of mortal combat. The sparring comes fast and furious, with a wide variety of weapons and styles presented toward the viewer, punctuated with flashes of violence that have the somewhat cheesy but still visceral brand of Shaw Brothers ketchup tinted spurts of blood that fans have come to know and love over the years. While the fights aren't the greatest ever, they are still done well enough to warrant this film a very hearty recommendation.