From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Crippled Avengers is another classic Shaw Brothers hit that came out right after Five Deadly Venoms. You cant say you love kung fu without experiencing the old school films of Chang Cheh. Filled with blood, flamboyant characters and amazing kung fu action, this is a prime example of 70s kung fu at its most stylized and fun.
The story follows the "crippled master" storyline we first saw in films of the Japanese Pop Samurai genre, for instance Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman series of the 60s-early 70s. In that film series the main character is a blind masseuse, but he is also a deadly samurai who can take out anyone who dares to challenge him. In Crippled Avengers we see that story sort of adapted into ancient Chinese history. The film features the main stars from The Five Venoms: Lu Feng, Phillip Kwok, Chiang Seng and Sun Chien and Lo Meng.
At the opening of the film things start up fast, no waiting around for a story to unfold here. Three thugs attack Tian Du's (Chen Kuan Tai) family chopping off his wife and son's arms. Tian Du returns home and kills the attackers. While his wife dies, his son survives, Tian Du then creates two metal prosthetic arms for his son Dao Chang (Lu Meng) to wear. The arms also shoot metal darts. The father and son terrorize anyone who dares make a problem for them. The first victim of their senseless wrath is a young salesman named Chen Shuen (Phillip Kwok) who is blinded by the attack of Tian Du and Dao Chang. The next is a blacksmith Wei Jia-jie (Lo Meng) who is made deaf and dumb. Another man named Sun Chien has his legs chopped off. Their friend Wang Yi (Chiang Sheng) tries to avenge them but he has his head put in a vice and becomes mentally retarded. Unable to make a living, they all make their way to Wang Yi's master who agrees to train them in kung fu in order to get revenge.
The legendary Director Chang Cheh uses each of his stars' unique personalities and fighting styles to create extraordinarily cool action sequences. The great acrobatic work of Phillip Kwok, Chiang Seng and Lu Feng is the main attraction. The men use only their own natural abilities and there is no half ass fake outs like we see 99% of the time these days in action films. BLAH! The group also use custom weaponry to fight their foes. Things such as iron rings, and all kinds of other handy attachments help them fortify themselves after being crippled by their enemies.
Although Crippled Avengers takes us through the standard kung fu revenge plotline, the reinvention of it by Chang Cheh is excellent and witty. No scene plays out like you think it will and the breathtaking action with the wily, acrobatic, crippled avengers will be sure to have any kung fu lover enthralled. This is a classic old school Shaw Bros. kung fu film from beginning to end. I recommend watching this back to back with Five Deadly Venoms. It would sure make a great Chang Cheh-Venoms double bill!
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.