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Sunday, April 27, 2008

5 Deadly Venoms

“Toad Style is immensely strong and immune to nearly any weapon. When its properly used its almost invincible.”

In this the first installment of the Kung-Fu Review, we’ll be taking a look at the Cult Classic, The Five Deadly Venoms. Enter the film after the classic Shaw Brothers logo and you find an old man (Master of the Poison Clan) meditating in a large porcelain pot filled with boiling water, from that scene alone you know that this movie is going to be serious. Along side is his pupil (Yang Te) who is feverishly stoking a fire in preparation to add more boiling water to the pot all in an effort so that the master can cure himself of an ailment he has long been battling against. In realizing there is no sign of hope, the master begins to reveal the origins and his regrets regarding the poison clan. Essentially asking his pupil to embark on a quest to eliminate members of the poison clan that have dedicated their lives to wrong doing. However his training is insufficient to handle any one clan member on his own being in that he was only taught pieces of any one style and would need the help of another clan member to stand a chance. 5 Styles make up the clan, hence the title 5 Deadly Venoms and as the title would also indicate Venom it can only be assumed that they may have to do with something poisonous, didn't lose anyone? No? Well let’s move on.

Number 1, the Centipede, deadly with both his hands and feet, but what makes him unique is his incredible speed.
Number 2, the Snake, also very fast, his astounding finger strength could be used like the fangs of a snake to pierce any unsuspecting foe, coupled with his extraordinary agility makes him a formidable fighter.
Number 3, The Scorpion, his weapon of choice were his kicks which could be used to strike a sucka down like the tail of . . . you guessed it, a scorpion, he also had a near superhuman grip as a scorpion has its pincers to immobilize its prey.
Number 4, The Lizard, to me his style is probably the weakest, where his style allowed him the ability to climb walls like a lizard sticking to them ala Spider-Man style, where the venom lie in this style is a question I to this day have asked myself.
Number 5, The Toad, this is a really cool style, why? you say, well because his body was impervious to all attacks armed or un-armed foo. However no one is completely invincible.

Now you would think that with such specialized techniques one might be able to track down these guys and see if they’re running on the wrong side of the tracks, wrong!! There’s the small detail, all of the venoms trained with masks that hid their identities from both their master and their classmates and not all venoms trained at the same time with each other. Number 1 and Number 2 were the first to arrive, after completing their training came Number 3 with Number 4 and 5 following with 3’s departure.

So let’s review, find 5 Venoms with styles that can kill you if confronted alone (check), determine if they are good (check), if not eliminate them with the aid of another venom that is if that venom doesn’t kill you instead (aaannnddd check). But, you don’t know their names because they’ve changed them, you don’t know their faces and they don’t exhibit their skills unless it’s an emergency, also each venom does not know the identity of the other 4, seems impossible huh. Well that’s where the plot thickens. Because why would any one of these characters hang out in one locale where they will be eventually exposed? I’ll tell you why, the root of all evil, money, a crap load of money, amassed by one of the oldest members of the poison clan who has also changed his identity and kept himself hidden in the cut.

So begins Yang Te’s quest, posing as a bothersome street beggar he begins by observing the movements of the inhabitants of the city, while at the same time asking the locals for information on the wealthy poison clan member based on his description. Well it’s not long after Yang Te’s arrival to the city that he observes a man toss an item caught by an officer (Officer Ho), naturally the officers’ partner and captain (Captain Mah) asks him who is that man, Officer Ho paints it as debt paid to him. This however strikes Yang Te’s interest in the man that tossed the item and begins to follow him. Later that night, two of the venoms discuss the location of the wealthy clan member and stage an attack to obtain the money. The massacre that ensues in an effort to extract the location of the treasure results in a failed attempt. The strikes intended to interrogate the man end up killing him. However, as with any crime, there is always someone to bare witness, enter Wan Fa a chronic street gambler which on his way home spots from the shadows one of the venoms peering out of the home to look for any witnesses. His confession leads to the capture of the venom, intimidation later changes his story. This leads to a web of murder, perplexity, corruption and revelation which ultimately leads to the confrontation of the venoms in a final epic battle.

All in all 5 Deadly Venoms is an excellent example of Old School Kung-Fu flicks, an instant classic when released. With a thought provoking plot, colorful array of characters and a depiction of how money can sometimes motivate the worst in people. Not to mention one of the movies used for sampling in the Wu-tang Clans’ Enter the 36th Chamber album. This movies receives my highest accolades. 5 out of 5

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