I recently purchased a brand new Panasonic Bluray/VHS combo player and I’ve been going on scavenger hunts all over the city and internet, looking for rare movies on video tape. Thanks to my good friend, New Beverly Cinema Queen Julia Marchese, I found a small independent video store that’s selling off its entire VHS inventory. The place turned out to be a virtual treasure trove, where I was able to purchase TONS of old movies for peanuts, that are either not available on DVD, out of print, or so obscure even I have never seen them before. I’m gonna write up some reviews of certain select titles from my new collection.
THE ONE ARMED EXECUTIONER (1983) is a cheap kung fu/revenge flick from the old grindhouse circuit. Shot in the Philippines and directed by BOBBY SUAREZ and starring FRANCO GUERRERO, it was distributed on VHS by the legendary PARAGON VIDEO PRODUCTIONS, responsible for many a fine film. This is one of them!
It begins with an urgent call from a payphone by a sweaty midget snitch named Mouse. Before he can spill the beans about an evil drug cartel, a huge bearded hitman named Mr. Jason picks up the phonebooth Mouse is calling from and throws them both into the ocean! The screen freezes on the splash and the opening credits roll under a fantastically funky opening theme.
Ortega (FRANCO GUERRERO) is a daring Interpol agent returning home to Manila from a honeymoon with his hot new blonde bride (JODY KAY). He co-owns a restaurant with a kindly old former colleague who wishes his friend would one day retire from the bureau as well, but a phone call informs Ortega of Mouse’s recent murder and he’s back on the case!
Our still two armed hero leads a raid on a huge drug deal, so he can capture a coded diary that will bring him closer to the nefarious ringleader, Mr. Edwards (a corporate executive and evil syndicate leader with a southern drawl). Unfortunately, the diary is destroyed when Ortega shoots the gas tank on the escaping plane and blows it up! DOH!
Mr. Edwards thinks that Ortega has captured the diary and wants it back! He dispatches a group of goons (led by the cruel Mr. Jason) to Ortega’s home. They beat him, tie him up, kill his lovely wife and chop off his arm with a samurai sword, leaving him for dead.
He survives the ordeal, but his confidence is badly shaken. The loss of his wife and arm have thrown him into a deep depression. He vows vengeance, but begins a horrible drinking binge that sends him on a downward spiral to rock bottom. After getting rolled by a hooker and beat up by a gang of thugs, his friends from Interpol throw him into a car and drive him to an isolated kung fu compound, so he can dry out and “become one with the rest of his soul again”.
During an amazing training montage, we see Ortega become stronger and use his lack of an arm to an advantage in martial arts. He also learns how to shoot and reload a gun with only one hand and it’s really cool! Finally he’s ready to dish out justice!
Ortega leads an attack on Mr. Edward’s hidden drug compound and kicks a lot of ass with his deadly one armed kung fu. He kills everyone else with his effective one armed shooting technique and Mr. Edwards and Mr. Jason pay dearly for their atrocities. Mr. Edwards gets a grenade dropped on him from a helicopter while fleeing in a speedboat (with a swastika symbol painted on the side!) and Mr. Jason is shot several times (once in the balls!) very slowly. The End.
THE ONE ARMED EXECUTIONER is a very predictable, yet entertaining piece of exploitation trash. For as grimy as it is, the movie exudes a certain charm. It’s unintentionally funny in several spots, but that’s all part of the fun. It is currently not available on DVD and I’m sure it never will be. Films like this one are often forgotten about and that’s a shame. You can tell that a lot of love went into making this fun little movie. Nerd out!