Thursday, March 18, 2010

Five Deadly Venoms (1978)

A young martial artist is sent to seek out his elder classmates, the Five Venoms, by his dying master. It has become his duty to make sure that the five skilled warriors are not abusing their powers for the own personal gain. As it turns out, the Venoms have gathered in a small town to reclaim the clan's ill-gotten treasure, where they have each turned against each other out of brutal rivalry and betrayal. Now, Yan Tieh must align with one of the fighters in order to defeat the other members! FIVE DEADLY VENOMS is a lavishly dressed Kung-Fu film set in 14th century China that combines brilliantly choreographed fighting, lighthearted humor, and a greedy tale of corruption that is fun and exciting from start to finish. Each of the colorful characters have their own unique skill set that turns them into superhuman warriors bearing the fighting styles and traits of their names: Scorpion, Centipede, Toad, Gecko, and Snake. Chinese master Chang Cheh lives up to his reputation, delivering stunning cinematography, editing, wire-work, framing, and set design that allows his characters to fly through the air, walk on walls, and defy all other laws of gravity during the high-powered and extravagant fight sequences. Even outsiders to the world of Martial Arts cinema can enjoy the skillful design, entertaining characters, and enjoyable plot in this Kung-Fu classic!

Rating: 9/10.
Number of views: 1.



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5 comments:

  1. I love this movie. The Five Venoms are like the Power Rangers on steroids! It's also a great gateway movie for people who aren't really into Martial Arts films like me. Well, not that I'm not into them, but it's not exactly my expertise. Good stuff.

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  2. Nice one, Carl. This isn't my favorite Cheh venom film, but it has one of, if not the best storyline. I love the plot point that money can corrupt virtually anyone. One of the relatively few honest characters dies for his nobility and trust he puts in the constabulary.

    The fight choreography is only average compared with other films of the time as well as other venom films in particular. I guess Cheh was focusing far more attention on the characters. The film was one of the top hits in HK of that year.

    If you want to get technical, there's really six venoms. The stars pretty much played the same characters in all the other films they did together. They had already done a few prior to this one, but this is the film that formally introduced them.

    Lu Feng almost always played the main villain, usually as a wealthy aristocrat, or leader of a traitorous clan. Wei Pai (the snake) only appeared in a few movies before leaving Shaw's for Golden Harvest believing he could headline by himself. He never quite fit in with the others. Lo Mang always played the stubborn muscleman. He was a good villain, too, when he played them.

    Kuo Chui was almost always the main hero. Chiang Sheng always played the goofy sidekick to Chui in the more familiar venom movies. He actually played a bad guy on a few occasions. Sun Chien, a Tae Kwon Do expert, was underused much of the time, but fluctuated between hero and villain.

    CRIPPLED AVENGERS (1978), INVINCIBLE SHAOLIN (1978), SHAOLIN RESCUERS (1979), MAGNIFICENT RUFFIANS (1979) are some of the best movies the venoms did with the five MAIN members (not counting Wei Pai).

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  3. Since I am entirely unfamiliar with the Martial Arts films in general, I thought this would be a good starting point based on your rec V, I really enjoyed it and would definitely be interested in pursuing more of the Cheh and Venoms films. Whenever I would think of the American stereotypes of Asian cinema, I only expected a cheesy low brow actioner with no character or style, but that wasnt the case here at all. Ill join ranks with you and Aaron soon!

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  4. It's funny that in Asian territories, Cheh's movies between 1967 and 1976 are praised to no end. His later work with the venoms is generally frowned upon.

    Here, all his action films get lots of respect, but fans tend to gravitate more towards his later comic book style movies. You should definitely check out FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS. I recently posted a review for it over there. I think you'll love it, personally. Cheh is on overkill in the gore department for that one. Media Blasters DVD is quite nice.

    The man was incredibly versatile, though. He dabbled in a lot of different styles of cinema. Part 4 of the Cheh article is coming up soon and it covers his 'Juvenile Delinquent' films and the 'Iron Triangle' period leading into his Shaolin cycle.

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  5. Ill be sure to head back over and reread some of the past posts to see where I want to head next, its a whole brand new world for me outside of my usual Horrorology

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