All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
The Five Venoms
Pick Your Poison!
A kung-fu student is instructed by his dying teacher to track down five of the teacher's ex-students. Each of the five is equipped with a lethal martial arts skill, and the teacher fears this might be used for evil purposes. However, not only does the teacher not know the identity of the students (who all wore masks under his training), but some of the students also don't know each other!
I was hoping some time and kung fu training (ie binge watching) would give me a greater appreciation for this since last I saw it about a decade ago, but if anything it was even more disappointing given the talent involved. It's a bit mystifying to me how much of a pillar this is for some considering that about 75-85% of it is really dry, kind of dull Edgar Wallace/Agatha Christie style whodunnit surrounding a bunch of murders and an inheritance. In theory I should be into that, but it's shot pretty flat and contains scene after scene of characters vomiting exposition and making shifty eyes at each other as they try and suss out who the venoms even are…
"That's a cool-ass vest." - RZA
The packed screening with an enthusiastic audience, a perfect 35mm print and a Q&A with RZA afterward was probably the most ideal way to see my first Shaw Brothers movie, so perhaps I'm overrating it a little. But I was sufficiently drawn in by the characters and the fighting to forgive some of the slower or drier bits. It helps that all the characters delightful cartoons with fighting styles to match (Toad acts like he's invincible because, well, he is literally invincible) and the fights, while taking up less of the running time than I expected, are meaty and extremely fun. The most surprising element was the running theme of political corruption, but mostly I just enjoyed the colorful fights and fun, often shirtless characters.
You're no match for my Toad Style Mofo.
"Poison Clan Rocks the world!"
Directed by The Godfather of Hong Kong Cinema, this isn't just his biggest cult hit but it also launched the careers of the Venom Mob. When you think classic 70s Shaw Brothers Kung Fu films, THIS is the movie you're thinking of.
Note: The Blu-ray (aka: The Five Deadly Venoms) looks incredible. Never thought a 70s Shaw Brothers film would look this good.
Most of the takeaways I had of this were not related to the movie at all, namely that RZA does an impression of Quentin Tarantino, and that he's seen YENTL three times in 3 months.
This movie kicks fuckin' ass!
Great fun from Chang Cheh and the usual crew.
An old master who foolishly taught five bastards some invincible kung fu, suddenly has a crisis of concience on his deathbed and worries that his five students may not have used their kung fu positively. He also has a stash of gold that he just knows the students are gonna come looking for after his death.
He sends his last student to find them and to check if they're trustworthy. To make matters more complicated, the older students never gave away their identities making it unclear who is good, who is bad and who is teaming up with whom.
It's a ridiculous concept and for the…
There's something undeniably awesome about The Shaw Brother's classic kung fu catalogue. I decided to begin a redelving and expansion here with 5 Deadly Venoms which I shall henceforth refer to is as, cause that's a way cooler title.
And cool this movie is. The set-up is straight up Kung Fu awesomeness:
"Let me tell you about 5 ridiculously festooned martial artists I trained in completely fictional Zoomorphic Kung Fu styles. I trained them all at various points and I have no idea what they're up to now, but they're bad fucking news. I want you, my new student, to go find them and make sure their not assholes. If they are, kill them. Oh and I have basically no…
Far more cartoony than I remember, but certainly a lot of fun. Feels a lot different to see it streaming in HD this time, as opposed to that shitty cropped bootleg with borderline-illegible subtitles I saw when I was 14. The future is here!
I know it's blasphemy to say this film is anything less than one of the absolute greats of martial arts cinema so apologies for any offense caused. There's no denying it's a very good film but I think, for me, when it comes to all the canonical classic filmmakers of the genre, there's something about Chang Cheh that never quite connects. I've heard people refer to him as "Hitchcock at double speed" which may explain it because I don't get on with Hitchcock either. I can't quite put my finger on what it is but there's something that leaves me cold (I have the same disconnect from anything written by Graham Greene if that helps?).
The plot here - involving…
Surprised to find that this is heavier on mystery than action, which is unfortunately not Chang Cheh's strong suit. The mythology is pretty great fun and obviously a major influence on RZA and Quentin Tarantino, and yet the film is frequently dull -- especially when compared to what would follow with Crippled Avengers (aka Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms)
Earns an extra ★ for being the perfect, delirious, Wednesday 11:59 viewing.
Netflix UK has a load of old Shaw Brothers films lurking in the recesses of its action section. So I thought it was time to give one a whirl.
The Five Venoms is one of the first films starring the "Venom mob". The basic premise is a Master trains five students, five different styles of martial arts; The Centipede, The Snake, The Scorpion, The Lizard and The Toad. The students don't know who the other students are as they were trained in masks and at different times. When the Master is close to death he sends his current student to assist those students who are using their skills for good. Oh and they're all after a MacGuffin... I mean treasure.…
Sometimes it pays to be first, and that seems to be the primary reason why this has soaked up most of the acclaim of the Venom Mob films. The different animals and the respective masks make for a fantastic visual hook, but this is just too dry a story, though it did play a little better for me on a second viewing.
I find Chang's work with the Venoms less rewarding than his earlier films, particularly the Iron Triangle films starring David Chiang & Ti Lung. The choreography (and attendant gore) of his Venoms work is spectacular, but thematically they're almost too dark, the brutality too suffocating. It inches towards what Simon Reynolds termed the Zone of Fruitless Intensification, where creative…
All the films I could find that QT uses as reference points in his films.
1-48 Reservoir Dogs (Django of…
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