Crippled Avengers opens with a rival clan assaulting kung fu master Du Tiandao’s home. Finding Du Tiandao away, the clan decide to leave him a message, something to let Du Tiandao know they mean business. So they chop off Du Tiandao’s wife’s legs at the thighs and his grade school aged son’s arms at the elbows.
Du Tiandao arrives home to discover the attackers. Using his Tiger style, he defeats them. His wife perishes from her wounds, but his son survives. Du Tiandao constructs iron arms for his son and trains him in tiger style. Once his son matures, Du Tiandao gathers the sons of his attackers and has his son shatter their arms and legs in revenge.
Grown bitter, father and son now rule the village through terror and intimidation. When a young blacksmith challenges their tactics, Du Tiandao renders him deaf and mute. When a traveller wonders aloud why the town allows such behavior, Du Tiandao has him blinded. After someone bumps into his son, Du Tiandao has the offender’s legs severed.
A kung fu master passing through the village spies a crowd outside the blacksmith’s shop. Moving closer, he discovers the three victims huddled up enduring teasing and ridicule from the other villagers. The kung fu master disperses the crowd and vows to avenge the crippled victims.
He enters Du Tiandao’s compound and battles various henchmen before falling to Du Tiandao’s bodyguard. Du Tiandao spares his life, but as punishment, crushes his skull, rendering him a mental simpleton.
The four victims travel to the kung fu master’s teacher, where they learn to overcome their physical challenges. Years later, they return to their village to unseat Du Tiandao.
A by-the-numbers revenge picture highlighted by the surprising violence and acrobatic choreography. The opening litany of dismemberment and bone-shattering violence promises an over-the-top spectacle, but many of the second act battles end with the villains retreating. When it arrives, the finale doesn’t pack the first act’s level of shock.
The battles themselves almost compensate. The choreography dazzles, with each of the principals a skilled acrobat. Sun Chien and Chiang Sheng , in particular, shine during several synchronized sequences involving giant metal rings.
But while impressive, these sequences often run too long, repeating movements multiple times with little effect, save padding the running time.
A side note: The sequence where Du Tiandao’s school-mate discusses balls with Du Tiandao’s bodyguard had me roaring. What begins as awkward dubbing escalates into satire reminiscent of The Ambiguously Gay Duo. I’d love to know if this was intentional.