One-Armed Swordsman Trilogy Starring: Jimmy Wang Yu, Chiao Chiao, Pan Yin-tse, Ti Lung, Li Ching, David Chiang Director: Chang Cheh The films: One-Armed Swordsman (1967) redefined the Chinese martial chivalry genre and provided the blueprint for many contemporary action classics such as John Woo's A Better Tomorrow (1986) and Tsui Hark's Blade (1995). Chang Cheh, a 60s and 70s period film guru, and King Hu gave Hong Kong audiences their first taste of excessive bloody action with this film that was the first to break the $1 million box-office sales barrier, about 38 years ago. By the standards of the day, the script - by prolific author Ni Kuang - is tight and entertaining. The story revolves around an orphaned young warrior (Jimmy Wang) who has his arm accidentally slashed off by the daughter of his martial arts master. He decides to lead a tranquil life with a farm girl - until his master is assaulted by the mighty Long-Armed Devil. The dated action choreography may not knock your socks off, but Chang's effective use of handheld camera, slow-motion shots, editing, photography and music to create a mounting atmosphere was groundbreaking in the 60s. Many of these techniques remain the staples of action filmmaking for disciples such as Woo. Return of the One-Armed Swordsman was released a year later, with Wang - one of Chang's favourite action stars - reprising his warrior role. Aiming for even better box-office takings, every action scene ends in bloody mayhem. The technique of wire-work is widely used, most notably for a battle in a bamboo forest. Chang, whose works are often bloody stews of Italian western and Japanese samurai films, never reached the level of accomplished stylist. However, his uniqueness rests in his over-the-top treatment of violence and his fascination with male bodies, which glisten with blood and sweat amid gory battles. By portraying in lingering details the savage and prolonged death of his characters - not unlike Mel Gibson's treatment of Jesus in The Passion of the Christ - Chang equates his heroes to religious martyrs. His ultra-violent style, with strong homosexual overtones, reaches new heights in The New One-Armed Swordsman, a 1971 classic that features his second generation of action stars, Ti Lung and David Chiang. The blood-splattering battle that ends in the gory death of Ti's character makes The Texas Chainsaw Massacre looks like Bambi. The extras: An interesting documentary, The Master - Chang Cheh, gives some insight into Chang's life and his work. It includes interviews with directors such as Woo and Tsui Hark and film historian Law Kar, and is narrated by the late James Wong. There are also four short animation films by the winners of the One-Armed Swordsman student animation competition, which includes a team from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.