The Five Venoms (1978)
December 15, 2020 11:37 PM - Subscribe

A dying martial arts master orders his final student to locate the school's hidden treasures and give them to charity, to redeem the school's evil reputation. The student will no doubt run afoul of the five senior graduates of the school's five deadly martial arts -- Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Gecko, and Toad -- who also seek the treasures, their identities unknown even to each other.

This (and a few other Shaw Brothers movies) is streaming on Netflix, with a Cantonese audio option. However there is some squeezing at the edges of the screen.
posted by fleacircus (4 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I went through a phase a year or so ago of watching as many Shaw Brothers and contemporary kung fu movies on various streaming services as I could.

While many blend together and quality varies wildly, this one holds up as absolutely one of the highlights; highly recommended as a benchmark/starting point if you're interested in this genre.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:23 AM on December 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

I haven't seen a lot of Venom Mob movies. I saw Kid With the Golden Arm which was good, and led to this one which is kind of a classic.

A Jackie Chan like version of this would have done a lot more with the setup of a 'begger' 'accidentally' helping capture the badasses. As it is, the movie forgets about the sixth student for a long stretch, blurring the narrative focus to showcase all of the actors more. It works in this story, though, and gives it a feel of legendary characters doing their thing instead of a more normal doofus's journey narrative. It's missing a lot of the bog standard kung fu tropes which also makes it feel pretty different.

OTOH it feels like they didn't save anything for the final fight. There's no like, demonstration of surpassing skill, where the bad guys who were very scary and powerful the whole movie just get ultimately chumped and disrespected, up to levels of "What did I just watch???" like in The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter.
posted by fleacircus at 1:14 PM on December 16, 2020

I have always loved that the old master is concerned that his former students might be using the deadly venom fighting styles of the poison clan for evil.
posted by rodlymight at 8:09 PM on December 16, 2020 [6 favorites]

I'm always an advocate for watching a film in the original language but nostalgia for the oddity of the dubbed voices (and the fact they have the same voice actors usually voice the same actual actors across films) in this one in particular always makes me watch the dubbed version. "Number 4 Lizard!" is classic.

Always amused at the Shaw Brothers "old man" make up. It's particularly terrible at the beginning.

I'm shocked this film has never, to my knowledge, terribly been remade.
posted by juiceCake at 6:44 PM on December 17, 2020

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