The enigmatic Poison Clan kept all their secrets hidden behind an iron gate. There, in the confines of a dusty, cobwebbed crypt, five fighters honed their unique kung fu styles: Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Lizard, and Toad.
These Five Deadly Venoms all graduated from the clan. And now it’s time for a wacky class reunion?
They all abruptly left, and all changed their names. One even wears a mask regardless of the social occasion. That’s Scorpion, even if the mask resembles a crayfish that’d be wall decor for a crappy fish and chips shop.
And teacher needs to track them down so their powers aren’t used for evil instead of good. (He should’ve thought about that before teaching possible n’er do wells such deadly techniques in the first place.) In fact, there are rumors (soon confirmed) that two of the five pupils are seeking to shake down the clan for its riches.
And time is not on the teacher’s side, as he’s ailing.
Yang Tieh (Chiang Sheng) is the young bright-eyed kung fu disciple who’s caring for the aging instructor. And he has to fulfill the old man’s last wishes and protect him from harm:
I KNOW IT’S GOING TO BE TOUGH.
If it were easy, there’d be no Shaw Brothers production ass-kicking; the kind we’ve grown to depend on like a gym rat does a protein shake.
Luckily, Yang Tieh has a few leads in town to help his cause, two cops Ho and Ma, one of whom is a boozer, has a painted-on beard and is corrupt.
They and the chief magistrate, who has headgear that looks like a fly swatter, are all kept busy trying to find out who murdered the local Yuan family and why.
There’s lots of police procedural stuff, but if you hang in long enough, there’s top-drawer multi-style ass-kicking, and there’s an incredible, what can only be described as a binaural striking death. Speaking of sounds, Ol Dirty Bastard / Wu Tang sampled some of the overdubbed dialogue for their song, “Snakes.” (“Number 2 practiced the snake style. He was known as ‘snake spirit'”). There are lots of acrobatic moves in Five Deadly Venoms (AKA Five Venoms) and you can see how these inspired the nascent break-dance / hip hop scene in the Five Boroughs of New York.
*** (out of 5)