Sunday, December 5, 2010

Return Of The 5 Deadly Venoms, The [Crippled Avengers] - 4/5

Released as "The Return Of The 5 Deadly Venoms" in the US (thusly why this release has it printed on its cover and as its title on the film itself) this film has actually NO CONNECTION to the original "The 5 Deadly Venoms". This makes sense when you realize that it's actually the film "Crippled Avengers" in gimmicky disguise. Luckily, if you are willing to overlook this little eye-rolling cash in, "Crippled Avengers" is a fun Shaw Brothers flick quite worthy of the buy even if it isn't the sequel it claims to be.

Four men find themselves the cruel joke of a superior martial artist's hatred in a small village. When his wife is killed and son crippled (they cut off his arms) his soul becomes twisted. He crafts iron arms for his son and trains him in a very deadly form of martial arts. He then terrorizes the people in the village by crippling them like he son was. When four men team together after being crippled (one is blind, one is deaf and dumb, one is legless, and one is brain damaged) they seek vengeance for his cruelty. They learn kung-fu from another teacher to overcome their handicaps to take on this horrid man. Now its a fight to the death over lost limbs.

Turns out its not only the title that's a gimmick in "Crippled Avengers". Like many Shaw Brother's films, this one takes a fairly basic revenge tale, twists it a bit, and then lets it run and sees where it goes. Despite it's rather ludicrous concept and even worse dialogue, "Crippled Avengers" comes out on top with thick charm and even more impressive choreographed lengthy fight sequences. Yeah, the plot is pretty basic and its random plot points (the man who loses his legs gets it because he accidentally bumps into the villain's iron armed son) tend to bring out the quizzical eye brow a bit too much, but I'll be damned if this film isn't a shit load of fun.

With some pretty (unintentional) comedic moments concerning their disabilities, at times the film wants to move in some different directions. The 'idiot' cripple is supposed to bring a comedy element more often than not which never really work, at least not in this day and age, and the film tends to lack logic in its pacing.

To counter balance some of its underdeveloped plots and off road tangents, "Crippled Avengers" does know that in the end people are there to watch its gimmicky kung-fu action sequences. And it does just that. In mass. Three quarters of the film is dedicated to the choreography that ranges from weapon battles (staffs, swords, balls on swinging chains), to impressive acrobatics (ring leaping, duel person tag team), to non stop punch and parry kung-fu in all of its flexing intensity. This is what truly makes "Crippled Avengers" a must see for kung-fu fans because they sequences are insanely long. I was tired just watching the damn things, that's how long and intense they were. In all honesty, that's fucking awesome.

"Crippled Avengers" may not have been the sequel I wanted to my favorite kung-fu flick of all time, but it was a fine and cheesy watch that sufficed all my martial arts needs. The story was bad, but it justified the impressive and gimmicky choreography. Definitely a must watch for fans of Shaw Brothers. 


Written By Matt Reifschneider

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