Movie Name: Five Deadly Venoms
Studio: Shaw Brothers Studio
Genre(s): Martial Arts/Action/Adventure
Release Date(s): August 12, 1978
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
The dying master of the Poison Clan decides his life has been a misstep and that the Poison Clan must be stopped. He sends his student Yang De (Chiang Sheng) to learn the identities of the other Venoms (Toad, Gecko, Snake, Scorpion, Centipede) and collect a treasure from another former Venom. Yang De goes to town but learns that the other Venoms are seeking the treasure also.
Directed by Chang Che, Five Deadly Venoms (五毒 or Mm Dook or sometimes known simply as Five Venoms) was a martial arts film that built a big audience. Often listed as a favorite among fans of the genre like Quentin Tarantino, the movie has built a cult following.
Five Deadly Venoms is a very influential movie in pop culture. The fighting in the movie has lots of style. Each Venom has their own fighting style (which are mixes of real martial arts and moves created for the movie) and these styles themselves have been mimicked in other movies including Kung-Fu Panda. Multiple music groups (including the Wu-Tang Clan) have referenced the film in their works and another very obvious reference was in Kill Bill with Bill’s Deadly Viper Assassin Squad.
The movie itself actually has a decent story. Yang De is forced to determine the identities of all the Venoms…some Venoms know each other, others do not. It isn’t very difficult to figure out who the Venoms are, but the movie does try to build a bit of mystery around itself. Like a lot of martial arts movies, it ends up in a big fight and about three lines of wrap-up dialogue (which isn’t very satisfying).
The visuals quite strong. It is some great wire work on the film and you can see where modern films have evolved from films like this. The movie is also stylized with the ornamental masks for the fighters…they kind of remind you of Mexican wrestlers.
The movie has recently been released on Blu-Ray and looks fantastic…If you’ve seen it on TV in late night theater type stuff, definitely check it out all cleaned-up. It does pose a few problems (bad make-up, etc.) but it is worth it for a clear, clean picture of a great movie. You might want to even turn on the bad voice-overs for some flashback fun.