Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Futurethon is Now! – Day 3 Recap


Futurethon Banner - Logan's Run

My, what a trip it’s been. As always, it’s been quite a wild ride, and I can’t believe we’re already on Day 3. Once again, I’m impressed by the range of films covered, from the blockbusters to the obscure. Just a note: I’m woefully behind, commenting on everyone’s posts, but rest assured, I’ll catch up this week.

Lost in Space

There will be a post-blogathon wrap-up tomorrow, where I’ll list any late entries (and maybe a brief announcement or two). Feel free to post a comment below, email me at, or DM me on Twitter (@barry_cinematic). You may also contact Gill by commenting on her post, through her blog’s Contact Me page, or on Twitter (@realweegiemidge).


Here are Day 3’s submissions, and don’t forget to check out all the wonderful posts from

Be sure to visit the recaps from days One and Two:

Day 1 

Day 2  

And now, On with Day 3’s submissions…


Just Imagine Poster

Toni Ruberto from Watching Forever has seen the future, and it’s… fanciful? Check out her review of Just Imagine (1930). 

Minority Report Poster

Cat from Thoughts All Sorts provides her report on Minority Report (2002). 

Logan's Run Poster

Travel to the year 2274, where everything’s perfect except for life expectancy. Here’s my review of Logan’s Run (1976):

Logan’s Run


Logan's Run Poster

(1976) Directed by Michael Anderson; Written by David Zelag Goodman; Based on the novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson; Starring: Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov; Available on Blu-ray and DVD 

Rating: ****

The City in Logan's Run

“At the beginning, you see that Logan is very much a creature of his society. He goes along with the accepted mores and standards, and this is the way life is lived. It’s when the idea that there was an alternative way of life, a much more humanistic way of living – When this germ is planted, I think it comes as a revelation to him that there is another way of living life, and he gets into this secret society, and of course it changes his life, and of course, the direction of the story.” – Michael York (from 2009 DVD commentary)

Logan and Jessica are Trapped

A million thanks to my co-host-with-the-most, Gill Jacob from Realweegiemidget Reviews, for entertaining my cockamamie idea to hold the Futurethon. I’m thrilled to see so many talented bloggers hopping aboard, and hope you’ll check out all the terrific posts!

Let’s face it, utopias are dullsville. They represent an ideal world, where everyone lives in harmony, and conflict is a thing of the past. But if everything works perfectly, and everyone’s happy, where’s the drama? Dystopias, on the other hand, are where it’s at., Logan’s Run was loosely based on the novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. For reasons of practicality, the mandatory age limit was bumped up from the original story’s 21 to 30. Filming took place in Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas,* using available structures, and in Los Angeles utilizing some of MGM Studios’ massive sound stages.**/*** Special mechanical effects expert Glen Robinson, who worked on the classic MGM sci-fi film, Forbidden Planet (1956), created the various vehicles and mechanical devices, while Bill Thomas designed the many polyester and spandex costumes.

* Fun Fact #1: One of the largest shooting locations employed for the futuristic city was the 5-million-square-foot Dallas Market Center. The Fort Worth Water Gardens stood in for the terraced area outside the domes. 

** Fun Fact #2: An abandoned sewage treatment plant near LAX stood in for the watery subterranean complex beneath the city. 

*** Fun Fact #3: For the underwater scenes, the filmmakers used the same pool where Esther Williams performed her aquatic antics.

When the light blinks red, you’re dead.

It’s the year 2274, long after a worldwide cataclysm (or several), and the youthful population (if you ignore the suspicious absence of people of color) resides in an enormous domed city, sealed off from the outside, free to indulge in their hedonistic fantasies (I’m assuming STDs have been eradicated), without the burden of responsibilities or money. The automated environment takes care of their every need, so work (for most) is an unnecessary evil. There is a downside, however, to this idyllic existence – everyone possesses a color-changing “lifeclock,”* implanted on their hand at birth, which marks the inevitable countdown to age 30 (think of it in ‘70s terms, as a sinister mood ring). What passes for religion in this society is a belief in “renewal,” which I presume is a kind of reincarnation or rebirth. For most, their final duty is to participate in the ritual of “Carousel,” a ghoulish spectator sport (inspired by the Roman circus, according to Director Michael Anderson) where people can watch their peers undergo their morbid rite of passage. Participants float around a rotating platform, encouraged with shouts of “Renew!” from the fervent audience, before being snuffed out of existence. I couldn’t help but wonder what the attendance rate was. Considering the fact that the outcome of Carousel never changes, you’d think this would get boring after a while (So many questions, so few answers.). For those relative few who decide Carousel isn’t their thing, they become “Runners,” who frantically search for a means of reaching a refuge known as “Sanctuary.” But there are only so many places to run in a sealed city, and the city has ways of dealing with dissenters. 

* Fun Fact #4: According to costume designer Bill Thomas, the majority of the costumes for the city-state’s residents were color-coded to the characters’ crystals, which in turn corresponded to their ages: At birth, the crystal was clear, shortly afterwards to age 12, yellow; from 12 to 24, green, and 24 to 30, red.

Logan Meets Jessica

Logan 6 (Michael York)* is part of an elite subset of the population, called “Sandmen,” who enforce the age limit, hunting down and terminating runners. Logan and fellow sandman Francis (Richard Jordan) take a sadistic glee in carrying out their work, enjoying the thrill of the chase. But Logan, at least, is beginning to experience an existential crisis, wondering about his role in society and whether renewal is a real prospect. His pal, Francis, cautions that it’s better not to question anything. An anticipated night of casual sex turns into a moment of self-doubt, which becomes the seed of something much more perplexing. While searching for an anonymous lover on the “circuit,” he meets Jessica 7 (Jenny Agutter), who isn’t exactly a fan of sandmen (when challenged about his job, Logan replies, “I’ve never killed anyone.”). After recovering a chrome symbol from a terminated runner, he approaches the city’s computer,** seeking the meaning of the item. The computer changes his red crystal to blinking status, effectively wiping away four more years of life, and making him a runner. His new mission: find and destroy Sanctuary. Jessica is understandably skeptical about Logan’s sudden change of heart, torn between potentially betraying her underground group and helping someone in need. 

* Fun Fact #5: According to Anderson, the original casting choices (who either declined or were reconsidered) included John Voight for Logan, Lindsay Wagner for Jessica, William Devane for Francis, and James Cagney (who was semi-retired at the time) for Old Man. 

* Fun Fact #6: The computer’s authoritative, vaguely seductive voice was provided by producer Saul David’s assistant, Lara Lindsay, who also played a runner terminated by Francis.

Box in His Frozen Domain

Their quest for Sanctuary is fraught with peril at every corner, especially from Box (Roscoe Lee Browne),* a menacing robotic man (although Box attests that he’s something else: “I am more than machine. More than man. More than a fusion of the two.”). One swift kick would probably topple the clunky robot/cyborg, but Browne’s deep, mellifluous voice demands our attention. As a kid, Box terrified me, and it’s not difficult to see why, considering the chilling (pun intended) prospect that he saw no difference between freezing seafood and freezing humans. Where did he come from, and who put him there in the first place? Why was he compelled to carry out his obsolete, programmed imperative from possibly centuries ago? The answers are lost in the past. 

* Fun Fact #7: The top-heavy self-propelled Box costume (powered by drill motors) was piloted by actor Roscoe Lee Browne, who controlled the speed with his foot, and could change directions using his knees.

Logan and Jessica Meet the Old Man

When Logan and Jessica meet the Old Man (Peter Ustinov),* the sole human survivor in the outside world, they’re shaken to their very core, confronting love, relationships and mortality. He lives amidst the ruins of Washington D.C. and the dilapidated Senate chambers,** now populated by an assortment of cats.*** As opposed to the serious characters we’ve met, so far, he’s a breath of fresh air with his largely comic role (Ustinov improvised much of his dialogue), spouting random passages from T.S. Eliot’s “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.” (Long before Andrew Lloyd Weber got his mitts on the poem for his musical).    

* The most distressing thing, revisiting Logan’s Run, so many years later, is that I’m now the same age that Ustinov was during filming. Sigh. 

* Fun Fact #8: In a deleted scene, described by Anderson, Logan and the Old Man sift through a stack of presidential portraits, only to find one of Richard Nixon. While the Old Man doesn’t recall his name, he comments that he was supposed to be “Tricky.” 

** Fun Fact #9: More than 150 cats from the Cat Care Shelter in West Los Angeles were employed for the scenes. Because they were constantly in motion, maintaining continuity with so many felines, was tantamount to (ahem), herding cats.


Jessica 7

It’s safe to say that Logan’s Run would never get a “PG” rating (typically reserved for more family-oriented material) today, but hey, it was the ‘70s, right? Despite the greater latitude afforded to PG films in the ‘70s, Director Michael Anderson fought with the censors on several scenes, notably the Love Shop sequence (depicting a continuous orgy), which was cut by about two-thirds (more is implied than shown). Another scene that likely raised an eyebrow then features Box’s gallery of frozen victims (played by nearly naked actors/actresses standing motionless). What specifically struck my then pre-adolescent eyes, was my first cinematic crush, Jenny Agutter, as Jessica. Why Agutter, and not Farrah Fawcett (who plays Holly, a doctor’s assistant, at the “New You” face-changing clinic)? While Ms. Fawcett looked undeniably fetching in her form-fitting glittery green dress (and in high school was probably voted “Most Likely to Adorn Horny Adolescents’ Bedroom Walls in Poster Form”), she always seemed out of my league, something to be admired from afar, like the Mona Lisa or a six-figure automobile, but not exactly girlfriend material. Ms. Agutter, on the other hand, was the archetypal “girl next door,” attractive, yet refreshingly down to earth. I could see myself sitting down and having a conversation about anything, ranging from philosophy to the existence of werewolves (okay, maybe I should steer clear of that subject). Of course, what really caught my attention, as an impressionable 8-year-old, was Jessica’s outfit that left little to the imagination,* and a later scene (when she changes out of her tattered costume and into a fur rug) that helped fill in the blanks (um… excuse me while I dump a bucket of cold water on my head). 

* As my mom was fond of saying, “Nice outfit she’s almost wearing.”  

Logan is Interrogated

The dystopian world depicted in Logan’s Run implies that civilization has hit a dead end. No one makes any new discoveries, and there’s no desire to go outside the cushy confines of the domed city. The society works, in part, because no one questions anything or openly criticizes the establishment. Former friends Logan and Francis represent opposite ends of the spectrum. Francis has embodied the doctrine fed to him from day one, seeing his work as a Sandman to be a civic duty. Perhaps because Logan’s life is on the line, he can’t afford not to ponder what lies beyond the city’s rules. As he soon discovers, Sanctuary is an abstract concept, less of a place and more of a state of mind.


The Lincoln Memorial

Jerry Goldsmith, who always had a knack for making a good movie even better, delivers yet another knockout score, elevating Logan’s Run to epic proportions. The diverse score demonstrates a range that reflects the story’s changing settings, with synth-heavy music in the sealed city (evocative of the tech-controlled habitat). Once Logan and Jessica are outside the domes, the score shifts to a more traditional orchestral sound.



The problem with depicting any future society is that we’re bound by our present-day expectations. What you end up with is a future that resembles the present of 1976,* with cathode ray tubes, and feathered hair (as modeled by Ms. Fawcett, herself). And there’s that time-worn old trope that was stale a decade before in Star Trek: Confuse the giant computer until giant computer goes boom! Amidst these dated trappings are some universal themes that continue to be relevant: the unsavory implication of eugenics as a means of controlling populations, along with the theme of “out with the old, in with the new” as older generations feel pushed out by their younger counterparts. In the overall scheme of things, everyone has an expiration date – the curse of being human is that you are aware of your mortality. Thankfully, however, we don’t know when that expiration date is… yet. As long as you don’t ask too many questions (Accepting Logan’s eventual shift asks us to overlook his murderous past), Logan’s Run is still a blast after all these years. 

* Fun Fact #10: To date, there have been at least two ill-fated cinematic attempts to “renew” Logan’s Run, in 2000 (by writer/director Skip Woods)  and 2010 (by Alex Garland).


Sources for this article: DVD commentary by Michael Anderson, Michael York, and Bill Thomas (2009); “150 Cats Make Film Debut in MGM's 'Logan's Run',” Boxoffice (Aug. 11, 1975, 107); “Mechanical Effects for Logan’s Run” and “Logan’s Run and How it Was Filmed,” American Cinematographer (June, 1976); The Hollywood Reporter (April 19, 2000); The Hollywood Reporter (June 17, 2010);

Futurethon Banner - Logan's Run



Saturday, April 29, 2023

The Futurethon is Now! – Day 2 Recap


Futurethon - Forbidden Planet

Greetings, fellow time travelers, and welcome to Day 2 of the Futurethon! Tonight, we have a trio of astounding posts for your perusal. Thanks to all who have participated, so far, and those who still plan to participate. We can’t wait to check out your posts!

Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan

Here’s a gentle reminder: If you’ve signed up, but your post isn’t quite ready (Hey, I’m always late to my own party), fear not! We’ll feature it on Day Three or the Monday Wrap-up. Latecomers are still welcome (just drop us a line). Post a comment below, email me at, or DM me on Twitter (@barry_cinematic). You may also contact Gill by commenting on her post, through her blog’s Contact Me page, or on Twitter (@realweegiemidge).


Here are Day 2’s submissions, and don’t forget to check out all the wonderful posts from Day 1 . We’ll see you tomorrow, for Day 3!

Aelita Queen of Mars Poster

While David Bowie wondered if there was life on the red planet, Lê from Crítica Retrô provides the answer, in her review of Aelita, the Queen of Mars (1924). 

Return to the Planet of the Apes

John from Tales from the Freakboy Zone isn’t monkeying around with his assessment of the short-lived animated TV series, Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975-1976). 

Rollerball Poster

Hey, sports fans, Ruth from Silver Screenings looks at the brutal, future pastime depicted in Rollerball (1975). 


Friday, April 28, 2023

The Futurethon is Now! – Day 1 Recap


Futurethon Banner

The future is closer than you think… Because it’s already upon us. Welcome to Day One of the Futurethon, hosted by Yours Truly and my forward-thinking co-host Gill Jacob of Realweegiemidget Reviews! Over the next three days and perhaps one more (wink, wink, nudge, nudge), we’ll be featuring various visions of tomorrow from the big and small screen.


Silent Running

If today’s crop of exemplary posts is any indication, we’re in for a treat this weekend. If you’ve signed up, but your post isn’t quite ready (present company included), we’ll feature it on Day Two or Day Three. Latecomers are also welcome (just drop us a line). Post a comment below, email me at, or DM me on Twitter (@barry_cinematic). You may also contact Gill by commenting on her post, through her blog’s Contact Me page, or on Twitter (@realweegiemidge).


Now, let’s rev up the time machine and journey into Day 1…

Beyond the Time Barrier Poster

The intrepid Brian from Films Beyond the Time Barrier takes us (wait for it)… Beyond the Time Barrier (1960) 


Death Race 2000 Poster

Fasten your seatbelts and hang on for a bumpy ride, as Terence Towles Canote from A Shroud of Thoughts reviews the Roger Corman cult classic, Death Race 2000 (1975) 


Aeon Flux Poster

How does an animated TV show translate to a big-budget film production? Rebecca from Taking Up Room dishes out her opinion of Aeon Flux (2005). 


Dune Poster

Let’s travel to the year 10,191 as Sean from Garden of Memory takes a look at Dune (2021). 

Alien 3 Poster

Is the third time a charm? Let’s find out, as John from UK Film Nerd examines David Fincher’s Alien³ (The Assembly Cut) (1992). 

Moon Poster

But wait, there’s more, as John also explores Duncan Jones’ Moon (2009).  

Robot and Frank Poster

Scampy from The Spirochete Trail takes a few steps into the not-so-distant future with Robot and Frank (2012)  


Soylent Green Poster

What’s eating you? Chris at Angelman’s Place discusses the dystopian nightmare, Soylent Green (1973). 


The Last Child Poster

Don’t touch that dial! Sally Silverscreen from 18 Cinema Lane tunes into the TV movie, The Last Child (1971). 


Metropolis Poster

Paul from Silver Screen Classics visits the city of tomorrow, today, with his review of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927).

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

Let Gill from Realweegiemidget Reviews be your guide to Earth of the future, as she meets Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979). 


Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Spirit of ’76 Month Quick Picks and Pans


Mad Dog Morgan Poster

Mad Dog Morgan (1976) Dennis Hopper plays Daniel “Mad Dog” Morgan, an Irish immigrant turned outlaw in 1860s Australia. He roams the countryside with his trusty indigenous companion Billy (played by the always reliable David Gulpilil), robbing from the settlers. Despite a reportedly troubled production (due to a problematic Hopper), co-writer/director Philippe Mora’s outback western is a fascinating but sympathetic portrait of one of Australia’s most notorious criminals. In stark contrast to his pursuers and local lawmakers, Morgan possesses a code of honor and sense of fair play, transforming him into a cult hero of sorts. 

Rating: ***½. Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Kanopy

Who Can Kill A Child Poster

Who Can Kill a Child? (1976) Narciso Ibáñez Serrador’s Spanish horror-suspense film is a potent mixture of Lord of the Flies with Children of the Damned. English tourists Tom and Evelyn (Lewis Fiander and Prunella Ransome) decide to leave the hustle and bustle of a crowded Spanish coastal town, for the promise of peace and quiet on a nearby island. They soon discover the conspicuous absence of adults in the island village, which seems to be populated by roaming packs of sadistic children. We never learn what causes their vicious behavior (Is it a social or biological disease?), but the implication is that some sort of judgment day is at hand for the grown-ups. It’s a truly relentless, unnerving experience that will stay with you long after you’ve watched it.

One warning: The film’s only sour note (and it’s a big one) is the opening credit sequence, presenting a tasteless litany of atrocities against children (including concentration camps and famine). My recommendation: fast-forward through it. 

Rating: ***½. Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Black Magic 2 Poster

Black Magic 2 (1976) This Shaw Brothers sequel to the 1975 original promises more sex, gore and sorcery than you can shake a severed limb at. An 80-year-old practitioner of the dark arts keeps his youthful appearance by drinking the breast milk of young women under his spell. He keeps an army of zombies in his basement, who obey his every whim. When three doctors investigate the veracity of claims about him, they try to stop his reign of terror. Can they stop him, or will they join the ranks of his victims? Watch and find out. 

Rating: ***. Available on Blu-ray and DVD

Creature from Black Lake Poster

Creature from Black Lake (1976) This low-budget independent production, filmed in Louisiana, is surprisingly engaging, thanks to colorful characters and a terrifying beast.  Pahoo and Rives (Dennis Fimple and John David Carson), two grad students from Chicago, travel to bayou country in the hopes of tracking down a legendary missing link. Although the scenes with the redneck sheriff (Bill Thurman) won’t surprise anyone, it’s a notch above many of its contemporaries (I’m looking at you, Legend of Boggy Creek) thanks to better acting (featuring appearances by stalwart character actors Jack Elam and Dub Taylor) and (for once) a decent view of the enraged hominid.   

Rating: ***. Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Tubi and Amazon Prime

The Human Tornado Poster

The Human Tornado (1976) Rudy Ray Moore returns as everyone’s favorite kung fu-fighting pimp Dolemite, in his sequel to the character’s eponymous 1975 debut. Dolemite and his pals flee a trigger-happy hillbilly sheriff with an axe to grind for the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles. He runs into more trouble when he tries to rescue his pal Queen Bee (Lady Reed) from the clutches of a local kingpin. It’s cheap, with iffy acting, fake kung fu, and a scene that stops the plot cold, solely for an opportunity to showcase his routine in front of an audience. Is it good? No, but that’s not the point. The Human Tornado was made to entertain, and entertain it does, with Moore’s signature one-liners and over-the-top mayhem. 

Rating: ***. Available on Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon Prime, Kanopy, and Tubi


Death Machines Poster

Death Machines (1976) Madame Lee (Mari Honjo) manages a trio of unstoppable assassins (aka: the “Death Machines”), while the bumbling cops attempt to thwart a series of contract killings. Meanwhile, a survivor of a karate studio massacre vows revenge against the people who killed his master and left him for dead. Filled with laughable dialogue, questionable acting, and haphazard directing, Death Machines is a textbook example of a film that’s so bad it’s good. Enjoy. 

Rating: **½. Available on Blu-ray and DVD


The Town that Dreaded Sundown Poster

The Town that Dreaded Sundown (1976) This odd pseudo-documentary style thriller (and I use the term “thriller” loosely) chronicles a 1946 murder spree, by a killer with no apparent motive. The tone is wildly inconsistent, ranging from a serious police procedural to slapstick hijinks. Probably the most annoying aspect of the movie is its reliance on unnecessary narration, which either describes what already happened on screen, or provides exposition that could have been dialogue. You’ve been warned. 

Rating: **½. Available on Blu-ray and DVD


Futureworld (1976) This forgettable sequel to Michael Crichton’s 1973 film manages to underwhelm at every turn, lacking the novelty or suspense of its predecessor. The Delos Corporation picks up the pieces from the disaster depicted in the first film, rebuilding their resort and replacing their problematic androids with new models. In an effort to boost public relations, they invite TV reporter Tracy Ballard (Blythe Danner) and newspaper reporter Chuck Browning (Peter Fonda) to an all-access experience at the luxury theme park. All isn’t as it seems at the new, “improved” resort, as the snooping reporters discover a sinister conspiracy at work (a theme that would be beaten to death in the exasperating HBO TV series). The cut-rate Samuel Z. Arkoff production fails to impress, riding the fumes of the original (Yul Brynner revises his role as the Gunslinger, in an ill-advised dream sequence cameo). The seemingly endless scenes of Chuck and Tracy running around in the underground bowels of the resort are an apt metaphor for the film, running in circles with nowhere to go. Yawn. 

Rating: **. Available on Blu-ray, DVD and Tubi  


Monday, April 17, 2023

Short Take: Master of the Flying Guillotine

Master of the Flying Guillotine Poster

(1976) Written and directed by Jimmy Wang Yu; Starring: Jimmy Wang Yu, Kam Kong, Sham Chin Bo, Lung Fei, Doris Lung Chun Erh, Chui Chung Hei and Wong Wing Sang; Available on DVD 

Rating: ***½ 

“In China, there are many martial arts fighting books, and also there was a book about martial arts tournaments. Also, many books about its own style of school. I thought it would be fun if I brought all these different elements into one film.” – Jimmy Wang Yu (from 2004 interview)

Blind Assassin

Back in my junior high school days, there were a handful of movies that were discussed in hushed tones, gaining a reputation of mythical proportions. In most cases, the hyperbolic descriptions of my schoolmates had little correlation with the actual films. One exception, Master of the Flying Guillotine (aka: The One-Armed Boxer vs. the Flying Guillotine), enjoyed a reputation that was mostly deserved. It was far from the first “tournament” type film, but it took the competition to outrageously gruesome levels. Writer/director/star Jimmy Wang Yu relied on Japanese films (including the Zatoichi movies and Kurosawa’s samurai films) as inspiration, as well as his previous Hong Kong-based movies.* The independent Taiwanese production didn’t have the gloss of a Shaw Brothers film (Jimmy Wang Yu’s former employers), but what it lacked in flashy production design, it compensated with sheer audacity.

The One-Armed Boxer

Set during the Qing Dynasty (a frequently used historic backdrop for the Chinese equivalent of the western), the film opens with the chief villain, Fung Sheng Wu Chi (Kam Kong),* a blind assassin sanctioned by the emperor. His weapon of choice is the titular flying guillotine, a diabolical bladed beanie on a chain, which he wields with deadly precision. When he learns that his disciples have been summarily dispatched by Liu Ti Lung, the One-Armed Boxer (Jimmy Wang Yu),** it becomes his sworn duty to avenge them. He embarks on a quest to destroy the One-Armed Boxer. Unconcerned with some collateral damage along the way, he dispatches anyone who seems to match the description of his adversary. Meanwhile, the One-Armed Boxer bides his time as the master of a kung fu school, ignoring an invitation to compete in a grand international tournament. But avoiding conflict can only last so long, as not only the assassin, but the victors of the tournament endeavor to take him down. 

* Fun Fact #1: His distinctive theme, as well as the opening title music, is lifted from music by the German rock band Neu! 

** Fun Fact #2: Wang Yu cited his title character from The One-Armed Swordsman (1967) as the primary influence for his One-Armed Boxer character, who appeared in four films.

Yoga Master

In addition to the blind assassin (who apparently never heard the phrase, “take a little off the top”), we’re introduced to a variety pack of antagonists, all vying for supremacy in the tournament. Of all the contenders, the Yoga Master (Wong Wing Sang), with super-stretchy arms that would make the Fantastic 4’s Reed Richards jealous, seems the most formidable (If you need to get something from a high shelf, he’s your man). There’s also a cocky Thai Boxer (Sham Chin Bo), who’s accompanied by his own woodwind music. The deceptively named Japanese fighter, Win-Without-a-Knife (Fei Lung), who fights with a staff that doesn’t, repeat, doesn’t conceal a sharp stabbing implement (wink, wink).  

The One-Armed Boxer

Compared to his flashy competition, the One-Armed Boxer* seems almost humdrum (as long as you ignore his tendency to balance on the edge of baskets and walk on walls). Much like the blind assassin, it’s not about what he lacks, but the almost superhuman abilities he possesses that make him as deadly as they come. He refuses to be drawn into the tournament, instead choosing to observe from the sidelines. Naturally, this affords him the opportunity to assess his future opponents’ relative strengths and weaknesses. Just because the One-Armed Boxer is our nominal good guy doesn’t mean he plays fair. He systematically turns his opponents against themselves, using their vulnerabilities to set traps.   

* Fun Fact #3: Depending on the angle of the shot, Wang Yu kept his right arm bound, either in front or behind. This created other problems for the martial arts star, including problems with balance, and his hidden arm turning numb after each hour of filming.

The Flying Guillotine Claims Another Victim

Don’t go into this expecting nuanced, multi-faceted characters (each could probably be described with a few words), it’s all about the kung fu action, as nature and Jimmy Wang Yu intended. The deadly tournament with colorful opponents would be copied again and again over the years, and probably influenced more than a few video games (if not a direct influence on Mortal Kombat, it had to be lurking in the collective unconscious of the game designers). Surprisingly, a Blu-ray is unavailable, and the DVD looks only serviceable. In all fairness, the film opens with a disclaimer that the DVD was mastered from the best surviving elements. Considering the film’s cult status, who knows if a pristine print might be lingering in a vault, somewhere, just waiting to be unleashed?