Movies that are slightly off.
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.
A bit of a chore, to be honest. The film has the structure and form of a mystery, but makes the crucial mistake of not having a clear protagonist for a good chunk of the running time. I thought the student character was going to be the focal character, but the film kept sidelining him to cut between two factions: the Centipede guy and the Snake guy; and then Lizard guy and Toad guy. Neither faction were particularly compelling or heroic, especially Lizard guy, so it was kind of galling to see him magically emerge as the primary protagonist in the final 25 minutes.
Plus, the mystery of who the Scorpion guy was insulting to my intelligence, especially when he…
"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.
You're no match for my Toad Style Mofo.
Whilst the action scenes on show are not bad, I couldn't quite help feeling just slightly underwhelmed by the story at hand. It's pretty similar to other Shaw Brother productions in the way it looks in a story that's all about well five guys who fight in different styles, Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Lizard and Toad (yes, a toad).
I mentioned those action scenes and well as said they're decent, I mean it does at times feel like someone had their finger on punching sound effects too much but overall the very much mostly hand to hand combat is decent. I found the acting maybe just a little over the top, some of the reactions when the camera zooms in are…
This film was listed by Paste Magazine as the #1 Kung Fu movie in their list of 100. It's all personal taste, but I can see why this movie is well regarded.
First of all, it really sets up whats happening and what ground the protagonist and his enemies and potential allies stand on.
Guy 1-5 each have a style and animal that is explained at the very open of the movie. Then we get to the mystery of who will be what and what their relationships are. The costumes and set design are great and all the acting is substantial to lead into the next fight scene which is why you come to this movie. They are all well…
This movie in a nutshell:
Some dude: *moves his hand*
Some dude: *jumps in the air*
casually defies gravity
The sound effects were ridiculous but I've noticed a trend of ridiculous sound effects in kung-fu movies so I guess I should get used to it.
I was pleasantly surprised by this film. The kung-fu movies I've watched so far (with the exception of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) were more focused on action than story and were just entertaining 90 minutes of fun. This film's story was much better than I expected, with betrayal, mystery, and of course, action.
This film is a fun kung-fu flick with a good story. 'Nuff said (I hope I'm not over using this phrase).
7.3 (out of 10)
A foundational martial arts text. The belabored storytelling gives way to brilliantly realized fight combinations.
But that final fight scene deserves a four star rating
Could somebody throw a judo chop for crying out loud. This wasn’t chop-socky it was chop-talky. Felt more like a police/court procedural than a kung-fu film. Snooze-fest.
I want to fuck the 5 venoms
a well-contrived blend of kung-fu theatrics and a noir-inspired yarn to keep everything coherent, each of the warriors imbues their personalities into their fighting and the results are fierce to behold, one of shaw's strongest pictures
Great characters but it plays out like a mystery thriller and the fight scenes are spaced out too long in-between. When it does kick off, it doesn't disappoint but the action is not consistent enough.
All the films from all the editions, including those subsequently removed, presently totalling 1177. An easy way of seeing how…
Missing what would be 134. The Opening of Misty Beethoven
also 172 Cafe Flesh and 259 The Slap