Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms (1978)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Martial Arts  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - Hong Kong  |  
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Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms (better known to kung fu film fans as Crippled Avengers) is an excellent example of the kind of martial arts outing that gets fans of the genre hooked for life. Simply put, Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms offers everything a budding fan could want from the genre: likeable heroes one can easily cheer on, villains one can easily boo at, a barrage of exotic weapons and colorful kung fu techniques, and a simple but sturdy premise that allows for one jaw-dropping fight sequence after another. The script won't win any awards for plausibility or subtlety, but to carp about such things is beside the point -- it offers an exciting, inventive plot that moves with a comic book's sense of zip. That comic book feel is further enhanced by skillful direction from Shaw Brothers vet Chang Cheh, who keeps the pacing lean and uses careful camera placement and editing to bring out the kinetic flair of the many fight scenes. He also makes effective use of "the Five Venoms," a team of gifted martial arts performers and actors who give their all here. The most impressive work comes from Phillip Kwok Tsui as the blinded salesman who becomes the team's leader and Chiang Sheng as the brain-damaged team member whose goofy-simpleton persona belies a high level of kung fu skills. In short, Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms is high-kicking fun in the grand Shaw Brothers style and a great starting point for anyone who wants to explore the kung fu classics of the 1970s.