AKA Mortal Kombat, The Return of the Five Deadly Venoms
Director: Chang Cheh
Starring: Philip Kwok, Chen Kuan Tai, Chiang Sheng, Kuo Chui, Lo Mang, Lu Feng, Wang Lung Wei .Hong Kong. 1h 40m
Just when I was positive that the Five Deadly Venoms was the best 70’s martial arts film, it turns out that the (lose) sequel actually outdoes the cult classic. In a similar vein the film runs through a deadly storyline featuring a diabolical jaded kung fu master and a group of unlikely heroes.
When a brilliant wealthy fighter’s family is brutally attacked, his wife left slaine and his son now armless, the Tiger expert finds a way to restore his son’s arms with mechanical extensions but now with a blackened heart he bullies and terrifies his hometown. Finding pleasure in crippling those to cross his pat, Four of his latest victis form a bond and seek revenge, A hawer, who has been blinded, a blacksmith, made mude and deaf and a drifter whose legs are cut off all attempt to band together with a fighter who is known as tier “idiot friend”. While finding ingenious ways to overcome their disabilities they conjure a cunning plan to take on the evil gang and the four are tested time and time again and demonstrate strengths and abilities.
The best of the Venoms Films
Everything from the original Five Venoms movie is cranked up in this approximate sequel which can easily be watched as a standalone movie, so don’t panic but do watch the earlier title as it kicks ass.
As the action unfolds, sometimes with a touch of whimsy, there’s a lot to marvel about the fast paced fighting and death defying feats of Philip Kwok’s mind blowing additions to the fighting choreography. If you liked other more modern classics like Hard Boiled, you already like his work and he’s never lost his touch, he started great and got better.
The “idiot”, a fighter who attempts the first round of revenge and is rewarded with a skull crushing that leaves him a little simple but is still able to fight like a god, is a poignant character who adds a few laughs and comedy to a pretty rad movie. There’s a few costuming issues but nothing can deter from the blistering martial arts and solid story writing, something so powerful the film is often credited as being the influence behind Star Trek : Deep Space Nine, Blood Oath (1994).
I usually recommend the Venoms as the film to watch if someone wants to get into old style Kung Fu, but from now on I’ll suggest this one as it’s a fuller piece, depicting better fighting, a more wholesome comedy edge and endless possibilities i fighting engineering and prosthetics is something usually only seen in a mortal kombat game. The first class cast play the drama and bring the pain giving the film an admirable hit, making it, at least for me, one of the more enjoyable old school kung fu films.
Related: Five Deadly Venoms (1978)
Lists: 10 amazing kung fu movies from 1978
Spotlight: Philip Kwok,
At the time of posting this is available on Amazon Prime.