Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Short Attention Span Review: Crippled Avengers (1978)

Often referred to as a sequel to the baddest kung fu flick of them all, Five Deadly Venoms, Crippled Avengers is actually a totally different feature from the Shaw Brothers.  It does reunite most of the cast from that martial arts masterpiece with gifted director Chang Cheh, and though I can't say that Crippled Avengers is as good as Five Deadly Venoms, it's definitely close.  The plot is an epic exercise in kung fu treachery: a sadistic master of tiger style kung fu and his equally vicious son (who have a tragic backstory that almost justifies their dastardly behavior) take great pleasure in crippling anyone who offends them.  Four of these victims (one who is rendered deaf and mute, one who is blinded, one who loses his legs from the knees down, and one who winds up with brain damage) join together and learn how to defend themselves in spite of their disabilities.  Once their training is complete, they return to seek vengeance against the evil master and his son in one of Chang Cheh's signature battles boasting numerous opponents and various styles.  No one could stage such a duel like Cheh, who excelled at presenting grueling showdowns that were ripe with talented performers (he made numerous films with the same stars) and showcased some of the best fight choreography ever captured on film.  In addition to the stellar fight scenes, this movie also benefits from the glorious sets and the bold color schemes that are typical of the motion pictures produced by the Shaw Brothers.  It also succeeds because it tells a good story (even if it is a bit far-fetched) and it is well-acted.  If you are looking for kung fu treachery and you have yet to experience the Shaw Brothers and Chang Cheh's work in particular, you're doing it all wrong.  Crippled Avengers is definitely in my top ten so far as martial arts movies are concerned, and it may even be in my top five. I also have to give some major props to Sheng Chiang, for while I love all the Venom Mob guys in the cast, his performance here as the brain-damaged warrior is a splendid treat.

Final Grade: A
Let the training begin!

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