This one has all the necessary ingredients for a classic Shaw Brothers exercise in Kung Fu Treachery: Chang Cheh in the director's chair, key members of the Venom Mob in the cast, a sinister mood, and an abundance of gore. Of course, it should go without saying that Masked Avengers is also enhanced by the colorful costumes and sets and the breathtaking choreography that make the Shaw Brothers library so worthwhile for connoisseurs like yours truly. I would rank this among their more frightening offerings, and I think that the fact that the masked killers terrorizing the countryside in Masked Avengers are armed with tridents gives this one an advantage. While Shaw Brothers movies are revered for their fight scenes, to include big brawls with multiple cast members and stellar weapons choreography, the use of tridents makes Masked Avengers rather unique. The picture hits several familiar beats for fans of Chang Cheh's work, to include secret identities, deadly alliances, and characters whose motives remain murky until they finally pick a side in the grand finale. Speaking of which, the big showdown that marks the conclusion of Masked Avengers has to rank among the studio's very best. It's a real showstopper, and those who enjoy such fare will definitely be thrilled by this sadistic climax pitting terrifying villains against valiant heroes in a bloody battle that is thrilling and creative in equal measures.
Final Grade: B+
|Venom Mob + Chang Cheh + Gore + Superb Choreagraphy = Grade A Kung Fu Treachery|
If you enjoy these pictures as much as I do, check out my reviews of other top shelf martial arts flicks from the Shaw Brothers:
Short Attention Span Review: Blood Brothers (1973)
Short Attention Span Review: Five Shaolin Masters (1974)
Short Attention Span Review: Crippled Avengers (1978)
Note: I didn't realize until I was digging up these links that I've apparently never reviewed the one Shaw Brothers classic that rules them all: The Five Deadly Venoms. I promise my faithful readers that I will remedy this situation shortly.