The Five Venoms (1978)
Reviewed by: pjshimmer on 2001-09-19
Summary: I love it
A most intriguing and well carried-through plot, but little makes sense, contributed by the lack of more details and background info:

Before the master of the Poison Clan dies, he instructs his last pupil to find the Clan's 5 former pupils, each of whom is an expert in an "animal style kung fu." Not knowing anything about the 5 pupils other than their kung fu styles, the last pupil effortlessly locates them in time. Meanwhile, the 5 original pupils themselves try to eliminate eachother, some in hope to find gold from the master's friend, and others in hopes to bring these evil pupils to justice. Intentional portraits of corruption are evident.

There you have the basic synopsis. Do I think the plot is flawless? Of course not. It has less flaws than most other films of the era, but it's far from flawless. Do I still consider Five Deadly Venoms a classic? You bet. It's definitely one of the great classics of all time and one of the most reknowned in the west. I don't think it's overrated.

The fight scenes are highly innovative for the era. However, like the Bastard Swordsman, the promise was not delivered. Yes, Lu Feng moves faster than the Centipede for 2 seconds, but immediately after the demonstration of the style it's back to the ordinary, old school kung fu, like those you see in any other venoms movie. The only pupil who truly keeps up with his introduced crafts is Wei Pai the snake, which comes in sacrifice of the quality of his fights. Nevertheless, Wei Pai is currently my favorite venom, even though he only appeared in about 3 of the approx 13 venoms movies. His unique physical appearence the his usual roles of chilvalrous swords heros in that plain white "gawn?" gives him more class than the other venoms; it could have very well made him the next Andy Lau, too. That's speaking with the fact that Andy Lau was the biggest star when I was growing up. I do wish Wei Pai made appearences in more venoms movies. Without the other venoms, his talent is not quite as evident.

The Eng dub is not particularly bad. Perhaps slightly superior to Kid with golden arm or Chinese super ninja, but nevertheless chessy. Most of the time I had to turn the volume up real loud to hear the dialogues, and at times I simply could not understand what they were saying.

So it will not be argued that the first true venoms movie is also the best venoms movie. It is original, innovative, well-planned, and influencial to many films to follow.