Thursday, February 28, 2008

Five Deadly Venoms (1979)

By: Chris Tsubamoto

Starring: Chiang Sheng, Lu Feng, Wei Pai, Sun Shein, Lo Meng, Kuo Chui
Directed by: Chang Cheh
98 minutes

imageAww yeah! Let me tell you right now, Five Deadly Venoms is one, if not THE greatest kung-fu flick of all time! If you’ve seen it before, then you know what I’m talkin about, and if you haven’t, then get off your ass and go see this movie. Five Deadly Venoms was produced by the legendary Shaw brothers, and directed by Chang Cheh, a master of in-your-face action and gruesome deaths. And not only do you get all of that, but it’s also filmed with that grainy, low quality tape, so you know you’re getting some authentic ass kicking.

The basic premise of the movie goes something like this. The dying master of the infamous “Poison Clan” sends his sixth and last student, Yan Tieh, on a vital mission. In the past, the Poison Clan was notorious for robbing and killing, and the master is worried that his first five students are using their skills for evil purposes. Knowing that an old colleague of his is hoarding a fortune amassed from the Clan’s past activities, he makes Yan promise on his death bed that he will warn his friend that he is in severe danger. He also makes Yan promise that if his previous students are using their powers for evil, that he’ll kill them! Big surprise eh? This however, proves to be no easy task…

}Each of the master’s five previous students are experts in what is known as the “Poison” techniques. First off, there is number one, the Centipede, who moves and strikes as fast as his namesake. Number two, the Snake, is a formidable opponent who can strike with either his head or his tail. Number three, the Scorpion, is mysterious and can attack from long range with his pincers and stinger. Number four, the Lizard, can scale walls and attack from above. Finally, number five, the Toad, is immensely strong and immune to any weapon. When his technique is used properly, he’s almost invincible.

If you recognize that last line from a Wu-Tang joint, that’s because they swiped it from this movie. To make things even more difficult for Yan, each of the students changed their names when they were done with their training, and since none of them ever trained together (with the exception of number four and number five), their faces and identities are a complete mystery to one another.

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This last premise adds a lot of mystique to the movie, as you see the characters bumping into one another on the street, but don’t actually know who the other person is. In fact, a lot of the character’s styles are kept a mystery until the end of the movie, leading to crazy discussions between everyone watching on who exactly is who.

To tell you more would give away the best parts of the movie, but besides having a cool ass plot, this movie has got some wicked fighting scenes and blood-curdling assassination methods. The torture scenes aren’t too shabby themselves, as you find out what’s its like to be stabbed by 10,000 needles at one time. Ouch!

Anyways, this movie was once very hard to find, but I’ve heard that Blockbuster just recently started picking up on it. If you can’t find it there, you can pick it up at reel.com or amazon.com for a measly seventeen bucks or whatever. And if you’re really desperate, then e-mail me and I just might let you borrow my copy, in exchange for your car or something like that. In any case, you NEED to own this movie if you give a damn about kung-fu flicks! This one is the shit, no kiddin.

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