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Five Deadly Venoms (1978)

Overview

“Five Deadly Venoms” is a 1978 Hong Kong martial arts film produced by Shaw Brothers and directed by Chang Cheh. Set in China, it depicts five pupils of an evil martial arts school “Five Poison Clan”, who kill each other over their clan’s hidden fortune. It stars Chiang Sheng, Sun Chien, Kuo Chui/Philip Kwok, Lo Mang, Wei Pai, and Lu Feng. Lo Mang and Wei Pai are Hong Kong actors, and the other four are actors from Taiwan. 101 minutes.

The martial arts school “Five Poison Clan” has been hated by other schools for their wrong way. The master of the clan is close to death because of illness.

He had five pupils who have mastered martial arts that imitate five poisonous creatures (centipede, snake, scorpion, lizard, and toad). Some pupils don’t know each other’s faces and names. The pupils are all searching for their clan’s hidden treasure with their identities concealed.

The master orders his last student Yang Tieh (Chiang Sheng) to cooperate with one senior pupil who does what is right and to kill the other four.

“Five Poisons” in this film are derived from the five poisonous creatures of Chinese folklore.

“Five Deadly Venoms” is famous as a cult film. In 2003, the US magazine “Entertainment Weekly” ranked it number 11 on their “Top 50 Cult Films” list.

The film is characterized by eccentric and fanciful settings like cartoon, dark worldview, the element of mystery solving (the Scorpion is identified in the end of the film), dynamic and acrobatic action with the use of wire work, stylized fight choreography like dance, and brutal violence.

The five assassins of the “Deadly Viper Assassination Squad” in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Volume 1” (2003) and “Kill Bill: Volume 2” (2004) are inspired by “Five Deadly Venoms”.

The villain’s characters named “Five Venom Fists” in the Japanese tokusatsu TV series “Juken Sentai Gekiranger” (2007–2008), which are called “Five Fingers of Poison” in the US localized adaptation “Power Rangers Jungle Fury” (2008), are based on this film.

Five Venoms (1978) DVD Trailer 五毒

Synopsis (Spoiler Alert)

The martial arts school “Five Poison Clan” has been hated by other schools for their wrong way. The master of the clan is close to death because of illness.

He had five pupils who have mastered martial arts that imitate five poisonous creatures.

The first pupil is Zhang Yiaotian (Lu Feng), also known as “Hundred Legs and Thousand Hands”, who has mastered the centipede-style technique. He attacks fast with a large number of moves.

The second pupil is Qi Dong (Wei Pai), also known as “Spiritual Snake”, who has mastered the snake-style technique. He is marked by his agility. He uses his right hand like a snake head, and his left hand like a snake tail.

The third pupil is Gao Ji (Sun Chien), who has mastered the scorpion-style technique. He uses his hands like scorpion pincers, and his legs like a scorpion tail. He also uses throwing stars.

The fourth pupil is Meng Tianxia (Kuo Chui/Philip Kwok), who has mastered the lizard-style technique. He is marked by his lightness. He can walk up and stand on vertical walls.

The fifth pupil is Liang Shen (Lo Mang), who has mastered the toad-style technique. He uses Qigong martial arts. He can make his body surface as hard as iron.

The five pupils are all searching for their clan’s hidden treasure with their identities concealed. Some pupils don’t know each other’s faces and names.

The master has another student, Yang Tieh (Chiang Sheng), who has trained in the clan for three years.

The master orders his sixth pupil and last student Yang to cooperate with one senior pupil who does what is right and to kill the other four.

He tells Yang to find his retired colleague first because he has entrusted the colleague with the clan’s treasure.

Yang looks for clues to his master’s colleague in a city, posing as a vagrant.

The Lizard has worked as a constable in the name of Ho Yuanxin under his supervisor, Chief Constable Ma Teng. Ho is looking for the owner of the treasure in cooperation with the Toad, who calls himself Li Hao and is looking for the other three pupils, while the Centipede has allied with the Snake. The Snake is known as a wealthy man named Hong Wentong. The Centipede calls himself Tan Shan-kui and frequents Hong’s house.

Tan and Hong find that official bookkeeper Yuan is the owner of the treasure. They attack the Yuan family and try to find out where the treasure is hidden from Yuan, but Yuan never confesses. They kill all the eleven of the Yuan family. Then, a young man named Wan Hua witnesses Tan coming out from Yuan’s house.

A man wearing a scorpion mask sneaks into Yuan’s house. He discovers a map hidden in a candle and takes it away.

Ho finds out that Yuan was the owner of the treasure and he was killed by the Centipede and the Snake.

Ho comes to Hong’s house along with Li to arrest Tan. Tan comes out from Hong’s house, and he is arrested after fighting with Li.

Tan’s trial is held in court. Wan Hua gives testimony that he saw Tan at the murder scene. Ho tries to make Tan say who is his accomplice, but Judge Wang dismisses the court. Wang has been in secret communication with Hong (the Snake).

The man wearing a scorpion mask appears at Hong’s house and he talks to Hong about killing Li (the Toad).

Hong and Wang conspire to set Li up as the culprit by buying over Constable Lin while Ho is away. Lin makes the witness Wan Hua give false testimony. Li is detained as a suspect by Ma and Lin.

Li’s trial is held in court. Li claims his innocence. Li starts fighting with Hong (the Snake). An unknown assailant throws stars at Li’s weak points located behind his ears. Hong weakens Li by attacking his weak points again.

Li falls in a faint after being tortured with a torture device like an “iron maiden” and a searing-iron. Wang sentences Li to death, and he acquits Tan (the Centipede).

Tan and Hong kill Wan Hua to silence him.

Lin suffocates Li in prison and camouflages a suicide by hanging. Then, Lin is killed by Tan and Hong.

Ho (the Lizard) comes back to the city. Ma tells Ho that Li killed himself and Wan Hua and Lin were killed.

Yang Tieh finds that Ho is the Lizard and he is a good person. Yang makes it clear to Ho that he is a junior pupil of the Five Poison Clan. Yang tells Ho their master’s order.

Ho develops a two-pronged strategy to defeat the Centipede, the Snake and the Scorpion in combination with Yang.

Ho and Yang come to Hong’s house. Ma dressed in black appears and he says he will assist Ho.

Ho and Yang fight with Tan (the Centipede) and Hong (the Snake).

Ma makes it clear that he is the Scorpion. He defeats Hong by throwing stars.

Hong becomes disgusted with committing murders and crimes under the rule of the Scorpion. He switches to Ho’s side and attacks the Scorpion with the last of his strength.

Ho and Yang start fighting with Ma (the Scorpion) and Tan (the Centipede).