Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Five Deadly Venoms (1978)

In my opinion Five Deadly Venoms is one of the best Shaw Brothers movies ever made. The storyline is very good. Although among SB movies I've seen, I think The Kid With the Golden Arm has best fight scenes. [What I love in fight scenes is somersault. I admire actors who do somersaults themselves.]

The dying master of the Five Venoms House asked his sixth (or last) student, Yang, to look for the other five students. They were nicknamed after poisonous animals: Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Gecko and Toad. Some of them didn't know each other. Yang's skill was less than any of them, but if he teamed up with one of them, he could beat the rest. He had to find the bad students and absolved the name of Five Venoms House from bad reputation. The master also had a martial brother who possessed some precious treasure, now lived in a small town. The treasure should be used for charity. Yang went to this small town to start his investigation.

Yuan, a 60 year-old book keeper in a government office was found murdered with his whole family. Justice Wang gave Constable Ma and He 10 days to solve the case. A young gambler, Menfa, saw Tan in Yuan's house at the time of the killing. Menfa told Constable He. Constable He asked his friend Li to help in arresting Tan. During the arrest, Yang became to know that Tan was the Centipede and Li the Toad. While the audience had an extra knowledge who the Snake was.

Tan's friend, a wealthy man named Hong, bribed Justice Wang to put the blame on someone else. They chosed Li. Therefore, Justice Wang sent Constable He to deliver a letter out of town. Before leaving, Constable He asked his friend Constable Ma to take care of his friend Li. Meanwhile, Menfa changed his testimony and pointed Li. As soon as He left, Li was poisoned and tortured. He lost his power and forced to sign a statement. In jail, Li was hanged by a corrupted constable, who later was also killed by Tan and Hong. Tan and Hong also killed Menfa, the only witness.

Hong conspires with Wang to put the blame on Li
When Constable He returned, he teamed up with Yang. At this point the audience had known that Hong was Snake and He was Gecko. In order to do their master's order, He and Yang had to remove Tan and Hong, and found the Scorpion, who had been working in secret. The Scorpion had the treasure map and was the culprit behind the Toad's demise. Who was the Scorpion? My guess when I was watching the movie was between Sun Chien (Constable Ma) and Wang Lung-wei (Justice Wang), because they would not have been cast only to be a decor.

L-R : Yang, He, Ma
It ended with good students beat evil students. Although Justice Wang had a significant part in Li's death, He and Yang decided to let the matter go."Killing the governor is useless. Another corrupt man will replace him. How could we eradicate all of them?"

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