Hong Kong Cinema

Kid with the Golden Arm

  • Made: 1979
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: All
  • Release Date: 14 November 2000
  • Company: Ground Zero
  • Length: 78 minutes
  • Picture: Letterboxed
  • Language: English Dubbed
  • Extras: Filmography, Chapters
  • Classification: NR


Chang Cheh


Kuo Chi, Sun Chien, Lo Meng, Lu Feng, Wei Pai, Chiang Sheng, Wang Lung Wei, Yang Mi-Chu, Pan Ping Chang

After Chang Cheh's success in 1978 with the Five Venoms and Crippled Avengers, he once again assembled a star-studded cast to front The Kid with the Golden Arm. It took a respectable HK $1,159,000 during a seven week run in 1979. Although this movie title sounds like it's about a kid who plays Quarterback for an American Football team, it is actually about Lo Mang who plays a fully-grown man with invincible golden arms who is the leader of the ever menacing Chi Sah gang.

Unlike most Hong Kong films where the title relates to the main good guy, here the Kid with the Golden Arm is the chief villain. The entire Venoms Mob turns out in this movie. Lu Feng plays Silver Spear, who is second in command in the Chi Sah gang. Wei Pai plays the swordsman Li Chin Ming, Sun Chien plays the outlaw Iron Feet. Kuo Chi (Philip Kwok) plays the drunk / Government agent, Hai To and Chiang Sheng plays Short Axe.

There are only four movies that feature the original six Venoms, including Wei Pai: Five Venoms, Ten Tigers from Kwantung, Kid with the Golden Arm and Invincible Shaolin. This film also features one of the all time great bad guys; Wang Lung Wei. However, unlike in many of his other outings, especially in Gordon Liu vehicles, Wang Lung Wei does not get the lead bad guy, but plays third fiddle as Iron Robe. Pan-Ping Chi plays Miss Ling the female lead.

Golden Arm (Lo Meng) in action

Long Axe, Short Axe take on the Seven Hooks


Iron Robe meets Miss Ling

Silver Spear takes on Hai To


The Chi Sah gang is lead by the Kid with the Golden Arm (Lo Meng), with Silver Spear (Lu Feng), Iron Robe (Wang Lung Wei) and Brass Head (Yang Mi-Chu) making up the numbers. They are feared throughout the land and decide that they want to get their hands on a consignment of gold. However, the gold is being escorted by a bunch of cannon fodder guards led by Yang Yu Heng (Sun Chien). He has also acquired the help of Li Chin Ming (Wei Pai) and his lover Miss Ling, plus Short Axe (the late Chiang Sheng) and his buddy, Long Axe. What both sides are unaware, is that the Government have also assigned Agent Hai To (Kuo Chi) to protect the gold.

The Chi Sah gang enlist the help of the Seven Hooks (they all fight with Hook swords) to help them defeat the escort, but they are quickly despatched by Long Axe and Short Axe. After this early skirmish, Brass Head is the first to attack the escort and with Iron Robe manages to steal the gold, but their victory is short lived and Brass Head pays for it with his life. Iron Robe and Hai To then duel over the stolen gold and the escort get their first sighting of the seemingly invincible Kid with the Golden Arm. The Chi Sah gang uses many traps and tricks to kill off the escort guards and one of their hired bandits manages to inflict the deadly 'sand palm' on Li Chin Ming. However, Hai To, who is also developing a mutual attraction to Miss Ling, saves him. This bond hurts the proud Li Chin Ming who challenges Golden Arm in order to prove himself.

Li is an inferior fighter to Lo Meng and he dies at the hands of his own sword. The climax sees the remaining warriors on both sides meet on top of a hill in a battle to the death for the gold, and Sun Chien reveals his true identity as Iron Feet, bitter rival of Golden Arm. In this film, the greedy, the power hungry and the proud all die a bloody death. Hai To manages to survive the epic finale and the drunken 'Sam Seed' character says to Miss Ling that he is going to get drunk as he walks off into the sunset.


The film involves occasional suspense as Agent Hai To conceals his identity from both sides early on, but for the most part the action is bloody, intense and superbly choreographed. The pace is frenetic and what dialog did exist has been cut from the Ground Zero disc (8 minutes in total). This is classic Chang Cheh, with wonderful set pieces and beautifully crafted scenes. When watching old school kung fu it is always worth looking at how regularly the fights are edited. In classics, the edits are infrequent as the expert choreography and the pugilistic skills of the actors allow for lengthy exchanges. This is especially notable in the Kid with the Golden Arm, where some fights have 20-second non-stop sequences!

The action choreographers were Lu Feng (Silver Spear) and Chiang Sheng (Short Axe) and it is perhaps not surprising that their encounter is my favourite fight of the movie. Both show an array of tricks with their weapons and have a superb chemistry on screen, it is only fair that the fight ends in a draw (double kill!). The performance of the film must probably go to Kuo Chi, who always seems to reserve his true pedigree for his work under Chang Cheh. Chang Cheh was obviously eager to respond to the success of Drunken Master and Kuo Chi plays the man who has no care in the world beyond where his next drink comes from. It is perhaps a shame that we didn't see any drunken boxing from Kuo Chi, but he fights with jugs of wine and shows plenty of acrobatic and fighting skills to compensate.

Short Axe vs. Silver Spear (Fight of the movie!)

Due to the sheer number of main characters in the movie, Chang Cheh does not have enough time to fully develop all of them, and many have straight-forward intentions, but all the roles are played with intensity and everyone does a great credit to their reputation. Only Wei Pai suffers as the brooding Li Chin Ming, who is defeated by Golden Arm. It is Golden Arm who shows him "that even heroes have to die". His sword work is nowhere near the standard that he shows in Last Hurrah for Chivalry. Lo Meng, Kuo Chi and Sun Chien get to fight out the last twenty minutes as Kuo Chi discovers the Golden Arm's only weakness. This leads to Lo Meng fighting blind against Iron Feet in a dazzling encounter, which predictably ends with a great deal of blood and gore.



This is one of the better Ground Zero discs, and one of the earliest. It is a letterboxed widescreen print, which is the exception for Ground Zero discs, rather than the norm unfortunately. The quality of the sound and print are acceptable rather than superb. Perhaps the missing eight minutes detract from this movie, but it certanily means the action is fast and furious. The extras consist of the standard fare for Ground Zero discs, namely chapter stops and several cast and crew filmographies. Credit should be given for releasing a notoriously rare title and doing a reasonably good job. This is as good as budget discs normally get, but make sure you only pay a budget price for a budget disc.


This film certainly appeased the Chang Cheh fans who felt that Five Venoms was a little short on the action front. This is mainly a weapons movie, only the ending provides sustained periods of unarmed combat. Chang Cheh will always be remembered for these bloody and violent thrillers with a large cast providing variety and intrigue. In many ways he seems to handle a large cast better than just a few star individuals, which relates to the way in which Shaw Brothers contracted its actors on a fixed wage. Chang Cheh certainly brings the best out of this cast and this is undoubtedly one of the best Venoms mob movies. When this is combined with a decent widescreen picture and a budget price tag, it is a title well worth owning. This is the very best of old school kung fu.




Hai To challenges Golden Arm...

and discovers a weakness...

but Iron Feet wants the glory...