The Five Venoms (1978)
Director: Chang Cheh
Tagline: A Kung Fu detective story
As the plot of this movie has no doubt already been described on the websites of millions of Kung Fu movie fan boys everywhere I won't go into that much detail. The main story follows a student of the Five Venoms Master who has been instructed to track them down, then if they are up to no good, to shut them down.
I liked the character of the student as he reminded me a bit of Yuen Biao. In the movie he comes across as a fresh faced country bumpkin and an innocent outsider which puts him on the side of the audience as we know as much as he does at the start of the movie.
The real reason to watch this movie are the Five Venoms themselves. From the excellent training sequences (seen in flashback) to when you finally get so see them get it on they are just strong characters it is easy to see why this movie was so popular when it first came out.
Speaking of coming out, those of you who like to find gay subtext in movies will have a field day here. Normally reserved for gladiator movies and sword & sandal epics, this sort of childish humour would make this a really good film to drink along to with friends. There is one scene in particular where I got sick from laughing - when you see "Snake" lounging in his throne wearing a silver jumpsuit, bare-chested with silver chains and earrings (he could be a centrefold.) "Centipede" is quite a bearish leather-man also. "Toad" is the showboating muscleman. "Lizard" and "Scorpion" are in the closet.
Quentin Tarantino seems to be quite fond of this movie as he lifted a lot of music cues and sound effects for use in the Kill Bill movies. Coincidentally, some of the music is the same as was used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The restored DVD version of this movie from Celestial Pictures is excellent including a restored version of the film, two different language tracks, the original and a remixed trailer and information on the cast. I know this release is available in Australia, but I bought the Hong Kong release as I wanted the original packaging.