Monday, May 23, 2016

"Crippled Avengers" (1978) d/ Chang Cheh

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It's been a minute since we looked at any gung fu here at the Wop, so I figured we'd cover another late seventies Shaw Brothers classic from Chang Cheh starring his popular Venom Mob stable: The affable Kuo Chui (The Lizard), the personable Chiang Sheng (Hybrid Venom), the hot-headed musclebound Lo Mang (The Toad), the kick-riffic Sun Chien (The Scorpion), and the treacherous Lu Feng (The Centipede), the only fellow missing is Pai Wei (The Snake), but he'd turn up in other Cheh vehicles with his cinematic gang mates. Also on board, is the man himself, Johnny Wang Lung Wei, in another memorably villainous turn with a ball and chain (actual weapon, not a wife, don't get excited, SJW's). Maybe more surprising, is the participation of Chen Kuan Tai, usually a distinguished hero in these pictures, as a major cock of a bad guy.

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Being fitted for extending iron hands that shoot darts lessens the blow of having your arms amputated by angry bandits.
While Tao Tien Tu (Chen Kuan Tai) is away on business, his homestead is set upon by members of the ruthless Tien Nan Tiger gang, who proceed to chop his pleading wife's legs off and his young son's arms off (that's a calling card, huh) before he can return in time to dole out ample Tiger Claw retribution upon these villainous bastards. After his wife succumbs from her wounds, Tao vows to construct his newly crippled boy some nifty iron arms, to assist in his gung fu proficiency as he grows up. We then meet Tao Sheng (Lu Feng) as a bitter young Tiger style proponent with iron arms, who, aided by his equally bitter old man and his loyal henchman, Lin Wing (Wang Lung Wei), enjoys playing judge, jury, and executioner to every poor son of a bitch that they deem to have shown disrespect in some regard. Their brutal martial bullying leaves the wanderer Chen Shun (Kuo Chui) blind after Sheng gives him the Iron Moe Howard to his ocular orbits, the iron smith Wei Da (Lo Mang) dumb and deaf, Hu Ah-kuei (Sun Chien) loses his legs, and Wang Yi (Chiang Sheng) gets his head squeezed in a vice until he's an idiot. These guys don't mess around...

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"Which one of you bastards would like a crippling lesson?", queries Tao Tien Tu (Chen Kuan Tai).
Wang Yi's teacher takes in the crippled bunch as students, repairing their bodies and minds with gung fu, as is so often the case. The men craft some iron legs for Hu, and Chen and Wei are taught to use their handicaps to their pugilistic advantage (as is so often the case). Meanwhile, Wang Yi is able to fight as he did before the torture, he just has the attention span of a child on four bowls of Super Sugar Crisp. In between more incapacitating life lessons served up by the evil trio anytime someone bumps into one of them or mentions Sheng's handicap (which, for the record, is a lot), even more cronies are hired for protection with a party celebrating Tao's martial accomplishments on the horizon, making the already laborious task of exacting revenge near to impossible for our heroes. Will they be able to defeat the Tiger Claw master and his small army? Will there be ample doubling and blood drenched two man kata action to wow even the hardest of gung fu fanatics to please? I shouldn't have to spell it all out for you, grab a copy, and see for yourselves!

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"Second word...sounds like anacusis...martial bruises? Oh, it IS anacusis..."
Not to be confused with 1979's Crippled Masters, which featured actual handicapped gents, one with no arms, and another with no real legs to speak of. That's another review...Tonight's,  also known as Return of the Five Deadly Venoms,  is one of the wilder entries in Cheh's canon with the full Venom Mob, filled with bloody limbs, torture, and the usual dazzling display of skills we've come to expect from the familiar cast of characters. The fight scenes maintain the same standard of excellence, and some impressive acrobatics from Kuo,Chiang, and Lu throughout the production. Wang Lung Wei does his thing, and Chen Kuan Tai is effective as a villain here, as well. One of my favorite Cheh productions of the period, it should become one of yours, too, if it isn't already. Three Wops, and highly recommended.

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"Let me blow this sneezing powder in your'll be hilarious, come on!"
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CowboyX said...

This was I know where all the idiots surrounding me come from...Tian Du Mansion!

beedubelhue said...

Pretty much the verdict for any movie that the Venoms play major roles in. I'm gonna do some more kung fu this month.


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