This blog concept began when it was suggested that each of the we talk comics co-hosts write a short review of the new Marvel movie The Avengers. That way you the listener/reader could get a sense of our tastes and build trust for future reviews but life got in the way and Keith was the only one that saw the darn thing the 1st week (and I don’t think Mo will ever see it). Keith’s blog went up week one, you can read it here. After reading his opinion I found myself agreeing with everything he said and let’s face it if you’re on this site you’ve probably already seen it. That got me to thinking why write about it, the movie is good and “good” movies are boring to read about. I’d rather tell you about a movie you probably haven’t seen. Still I probably should tie it to the Avengers in someway to remain in the sprit of the original idea (in my own perverse way). So I’m going to try to sell you on one of my favorite movies that will never be remade, re-imagined, or bastardized in anyway- The Crippled Avengers.
The Crippled Avengers aka The Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms is a 1978 Shaw brothers film made by the legendary filmmaker Chang Cheh (5 Fingers of Death, The One-Armed Swordsman). A lot of confusion surrounds the film due to the fact it was marketed in a lot of markets as a sequel to the 5 Deadly Venoms, a popular Chang Cheh film that was filmed the same year. The two films aside from sharing a director also share much of the same cast, four of a group that later became known as the Venom Mob. This group consisted of Kuo Chui, Lu Feng, Chiang Sheng, Sun Chien, Lo Mang(absent) and Wei Pai(absent). This group of 6 actors went on to star in many martial arts classics made by the Shaw Brothers including Kid With The Golden Arm and The Brave Archer.
In this day and age it’s hard to fathom how this film got made. Today studios and filmmakers would worry about the correctness of portraying men with physical and mental disabilities in a campy fashion but rest assured there is very little to offend in this film. The story is a simple tale of the revenge of 4 men all injured in some way by the same man. The team of “Avengers” all are injured individually in a fashion that judged appropriate by the villain Chu Cho Chang e.g. A blacksmith is made deaf and mute for mouthing off to his “better”. Through various hardships the deaf mute, the blind man, the legless man, and the “idiot” find each other and start to seek a means of vengeance. It is worth a note that perhaps the “idiot” could be considered offensive. The film never really makes it clear what his injury really is, I’m unsure how having one’s head squeezed in a vice causes reversion to a childlike state yet allows retention of kung fu. On this one I’m willing to read it as imaginary condition rather than a condition that one would normally associate with the word “idiot” or a form of mental trauma. In any case the portrayal is campy and “idiot” should be taken as an unfortunate translation.
The training sequences are the stand out scenes in this film. Each man has his skill to learn to turn his disability into an advantage and these skills are adequately paid off in the final battle. Long, uninterrupted action sequences, its campy storyline and dialogue make this a stand out of the martial arts genre.
If you think you’ve seen it all, you’ll be pleasantly surprised, comic book style fun and a story you won’t see from Hollywood make repeated viewing a must. Dragon Dynasty has an adequate DVD for under 10 bucks, although the English dub is vintage (which can be entertraining). See this film; your life is probably richer if you do. Chris O-U-T.