'The 5 Deadly Venoms'
(DVD / NR / (1978) 2009 / The Weinstein Company)
Overview: The dying master of the powerful Poison Clan assigns his final martial arts student one last, epic quest find his 5 most mysterious and dangerous disciples, each trained in a different fighting style, and bring them together to root out a conspiracy that could divide and destroy the entire clan.
DVD Verdict: Overall, this is one way too complicated plot! The storyline follows the dying master of the notorious “Poison Clan” sending Chiang Sheng, his final student, out to track down five of his former protégés. Each of the five was taught a different combat style: Centipede, also referred to as “thousand hands,” is known for the quickness of his strikes; Snake lashes out at opponents with clawed fingers; Scorpion can paralyze his adversaries with a few piercing kicks; Lizard has the ability to walk on walls and attack from them; and Toad has a defensive style that repels all blades and bends solid metal.
Because their identities are unknown beyond their masks, finding them isn’t easy, and harder still is figuring out which are good guys and which are corrupt, treasure-stealing thugs. Then it’s up to Chaing to combine the skills of all five men to bring honor to his late master’s disgraced house.
From there, well, the film gets very lost in its own story tapestry - that of weird goings-on, of a murder mystery, even some buried treasure! Thrown in the various allegiances and rivalries between clan members, some of whom know each other, and others with murkier identities, and you get a flick that the Shaw Brothers changed the face of martial arts movies of for years to come. This is a Widescreen presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Commentary by Hong Kong Cinema Expert Bey Logan