Five Deadly Venoms/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
The Five Venoms are: The Toad, The Lizard, The Scorpion, The Snake and The Centipede. They have trained for several years under the teachings of the Poison Clan leader. In that time, they have become some of the most extraordinary kung fu fighters ever to walk the Earth. After the Venoms leave, they hear that their old trainer is going to die, and so, the group want to find where his secret treasure is hidden. The master tells his youngest student who isn't quite finished training to go track down all the Venoms, instructing him that several of them are to be trusted, but to also find the ones who aren't.
Each of the characters in the film (played by Chiang Seng, Lu Feng, Philip Kwok, Sun Chien, Wei Pai and Lo Meng) came from different countries, a few were from Taiwan, one from Korea and two from China. This gives you an idea of their different backgrounds in martial arts and acrobatics.
By watching the movie, you can easily notice that these men have great martial arts abilities and also good acting skills. No wonder why Chang Cheh used them in many of his productions. To this day, some of these actors are still active in the movie industry as film company heads or action directors. Probably the most recognized figure is Phillip Kwok, who worked on many Kung Fu films since the 1980's as an action director. FIVE VENOMS is a great introduction to these actors. I suggest to those new to the genre to find films directed by Chang Cheh, as they have been cherished and recognized as masterpieces.
There are just a few major fights in the movie; all of them are extremely well shot with the performers giving everything they can. However, more fighting would have probably fastened the pace of the movie. At the very least, the movie ends with a final battle between the good Venoms and the bad Venoms, all of them displaying their martial arts techniques. As for the animal techniques, except for a few key moments that the Venoms actually use their special moves, there's not that much attention put on the different styles, which is a shame as they could have pushed the idea much further. The fighting is very traditional, with the exception of a minority of moves, so you can expect realistic fighting all along.
Five Deadly Venoms stands as a crown jewel of the old school Shaw Brothers/grindhouse era. We highly recommend it to fans of vibrant and colorful Asian action cinema.
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.