Sunday, November 7, 2010

The One Armed Executioner (1983)

Bobby A. Suarez production of The One Armed Executioner is a surprisingly solid movie, way less trashy than I thought it would be. Not original by any means, but a great revenge-movie with lots of action and a great cast of both heroes and baddies.

Smooth-faced Franco Guerrero plays Ramon Ortega, a successful Interpol-agent who after his latest bust, an explosive attack on an airplane containing a suspected drug dealer, finds himself threatened by a crime organization. They enter his home, murders his wife with a sword and chops his own arm off and leave him to die. After a period of heavy drinking and being a douchebag his martial arts master finds him and teaches him to fight only with one arm! Now he’s gonna find them all, one by one, and introduce their maker to them…

Like I wrote above, this is a very solid movie. It feels more expensive than it probably was and Bobby A. Suarez really shows off his directing-skills here. The widescreen framing looks beautiful and the only thing making it seem more exploitation is the Philippine setting and the typical stuff that happens in those productions, exploding huts for example. And obvious ex-pats slumming as bad guys (great bad guys by the way!). It has a mainstream, almost Hollywood-like style, but never steps away from that wonderful feeling of cheap Asian action that we love.

So it’s a quite serious movie, with some fantastic action scenes. I love the final with a lot of crazy stunts and huge explosions (some stuff looks very dangerous, stuntmen just getting away from explosions within seconds), but the token training-sequence is a blast too. It’s not that gory, but of course there are squibs (Jim Gaines gets shot for example) and a lot of cool ideas. The first scene with the dwarf and the telephone booth is a classic for example.

I’m gonna confess that movies from the Philippines is not my expert area (I try to concentrate on Thailand), but after watching more and more stuff from this country I’m getting more and more impressed with both production values and the talent behind and behind the camera. The best actor in this movie is Franco Guerrero, which is a brilliant actor who I need to find more stuff with. It’s rare to see actors in these kinda low budget movies both handle the drama and the action so well.

This is the second movie on Dark Sky’s newest DVD release (together with They Call Her Cleopatra Wong) and it looks great. This time they had the opportunity to use a very nice widescreen print (the beginning and credits seem to be from another print, and that sequence is not anamorphic – weird) and clear sound and sharp picture. It’s still cut, but the original uncut scenes is since long gone and is only available from VHS – so instead of splicing an inferior VHS print into this beautiful film print, the uncut scenes – which is nothing special really – is included in the extras as extended scenes.

Once again, this double feature is a must-have release. The bonus stuff is cool and funny, and the two movies are two of the most entertaining pieces of action I’ve seen this year. Support the legacy of Bobby A. Suarez – buy it now!


Roberto II said...

Dear Ninja,

Thank you very much for the nice review you gave to my father's two (2) film namely, One Armed Executioner and They Call Her Cleopatra Wong. If my father, Mr. Bobby A. Suarez is still around he would have sent his thank you note personally. From his family we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Ninja Dixon said...

Roberto II, it's my pleasure!
Thanks for the comment on Cleopatra Wong too, both this and that one is amazing movies. Your father had an amazing gift! Sincerely, Fred "Ninja Dixon" Anderson