Five Deadly Venoms (1978)

five deadly venoms poster 1978 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Kung fu action! Interesting story

Abrupt ending with little resoultion

Movie Info

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

five deadly venoms masks toad scorpion gecko snake centipede

Attack of the Mexican Wrestlers!

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 final student Yang De (Chiang Sheng) to learn the identities of the other Venoms the Toad, the Gecko, the Snake, the Scorpion, and the Centipede and to determine where their loyalties lie as an ill-gotten treasure could be their target.  The members of the Poison Clan all have different motives and Yang De could be the only one with the knowledge to stop them.

Directed by Chang Che, Five Deadly Venoms (五毒 or Wŭ Dú) is a Hong Kong martial arts action mystery.  The film also goes by the titles of Five Venoms or The Five Deadly Venoms and is often considered a cult classic.

five deadly venoms snake fighting style

Feel the bite of the Snake!!!

The first time I saw Five Deadly Venoms, it was recommended by a friend and was a rotten transfer full of scratches and dirty transfers.  Since then, the movie has been cleaned and refined.  Though I do love the movie looking better, there is something charming about that dirty, scratchy grimy look of the older transfers.

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.  The fighting is good and there is some great wire work on the film.  You can see the influence of movies like Five Deadly Venoms on more modern movies in their fighting and shooting.  I particularly like the Venom’s stylized masked that look almost like Mexican wrestler masks more than ninja assassins.  As mentioned, the cleaned-up transfers are both a blessing and a curse because you can also see some of the make-up weaknesses and problems with some of the effects.

five deadly venoms gecko yang tieh

Time for a kung fu team-up!!!

Five Deadly Venoms is a very influential movie in pop culture and worth seeking out for that if nothing else.  The fighting is very stylized and a nice blend of classic martial arts with moves created just for the movie.  Fans of Quentin Tarantino (who also is a fan of the film) will notice similarities between the Venoms and Bill’s Deadly Viper Assassin Squad from Kill Bill, but the movie also serves as a basis for the warriors in Kung Fu PandaFive Deadly Venoms is a fun action filled trek.  The movie The Crippled Avengers (also released in 1978) is sometimes considered a spiritual sequel to Five Deadly Venoms and features much of the cast.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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