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.
To make The Five Venoms, take a typical Shaw Brothers flick, remove most of the action, and replace it with a strange sort of mystery / hidden identity / treasure hunt plot. That's not a bad recipe, I think, but the individual twists and turns of the mystery are too dull to hold up the movie in the absence of the fight scenes.
This is a hell of a setup: Moral charge from dying master to draw out five former students, and if they’re evil, kill them.
Also cool: Only being able to make the ID by spotting their technique (because they trained in masks). Movement as fingerprint.
aka Five Deadly Venoms, Wu du, Mm Dook, Five Venoms
Maybe the kung fu films of the Shaw Brothers aren't for me. With four films watched in the last few days and only 'Return to the 36th Chamber' hitting it's mark I was hopeful a viewing of this cult classic could win me over, but unfortunately not.
Things were looking promising early on with a good set up. A dying martial arts teacher sends his current student to track down his five former students to make sure they aren't using their skills for evil and also that they don't steal money from his ex co-teacher, or something. It doesn't really matter as we have the great gimmick of each former…
I'm at that novice stage with the Shaw Bros. catalog, where I'm still picking out movies based on their titles and/or Wu-Tang references. The Five Venoms, the true birth of the fabled "Venom mob," is one of those iconic ones I'd never seen. I really enjoyed director Chang Cheh's Five Element Ninjas, so I surmised that five was a lucky number.
It opens with the remorseful, dying master of the Poison Clan sending his still-green student Yang Tieh (Chiang Sheng) on a quest to find five former students and to determine which of them are trying to steal a former colleague's riches. Their identities are secret because they all wore masks while training, and are even mostly unknown to each…
Not nearly as elegant visually or narratively as the 36th Chamber of Shaolin, but this is ultimately a fun and stylish kung-fu film. It plays more as a Holmsian mystery than a true action movie, snaking along with unfamiliar turns, rhythms and modes, jumping from police procedural to legal drama to broad comedy before settling into place as a demonstration of beautifully choreographed martial arts. The finale is particularly interesting, as different styles intersect and characters shift allegiances. After seeing only one film from each director, Chang's style seems much more blunt and stolid compared to Liu's fluid, intuitive filmmaking.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
I've tried Jackie Chan, I've tried Bruce Lee and I've sampled a handful of Shaw Brothers productions and I can confidently say that martial arts movies are not for me. Sure the fight scenes in Five Deadly Venoms were something to behold. However, it wasn't nearly enough to keep me occupied for ninety minutes and therefore, I found myself rather bored. You know, ever since I've taken away my self imposed ban against calling films "boring", I've noticed I've been using the word a lot in my reviews. It's such a cop out of a word, however, some films are simply boring and for my money, this was one of them. I will say this though - I liked how…
The Chinese judicial system was suspect at best during this time.
Shaw Brothers classic that delivers what you'd expect. Crazy characters fighting in crazy styles, a few good looking stunts, and tons of questionable foley work.
But I was really struck by how fantastic this film looked. A very clean print is now streaming on Netflix, but more than that I just never associated these films with well framed shots, intricate camera moves or lots of color. Fun stuff.
THIS REVIEW IS PRESENTED IN SHAW SCOPE
Yes, it's a cult classic and a big inspiration for Kill Bill. The Venom Mob gives us some badass chop-socky fight scenes, although less than you might expect. That's because most of the running time is devoted to the Venom Clan's last pupil searching for his five seniors to see if they've been behaving themselves and trying to locate a hidden treasure, which they're looking for as well. Shifting alliances, murders aplenty and medieval torture devices soon follow.
The Five [Deadly] Venoms is unmistakably a Cheng Cheh joint. When there's violence, rest assured it'll be excessive. When there's blood, rest assured it'll be crimson. When a combatant dies, rest assured it'll be shown…
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