|This article does not cite any references or sources. (February 2010)|
|Directed by||Chang Cheh|
|Produced by||Mona Fong|
|Written by||Chang Cheh
Wang Lung Wei
|Music by||Chen Yung-Yu|
|Distributed by||Shaw Brothers Studio|
|Running time||100 minutes|
Crippled Avengers is a 1978 Shaw Brothers kung fu film directed by Chang Cheh and starring four members of the Venom Mob. It has been released in North America as Mortal Combat and Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms.
Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms sets the tone of vengeance from the opening scene. Chu Twin, a master of tiger style Kung Fu, returns home to find his wife murdered and his son crippled having his arms cut off from the elbows down. Chu Twin has iron arms constructed for his son and trains him in the art of Kung Fu. Even though Chu Twin and his son, Chu Cho Chang, got murderous vengeance against their wrong doers they were still filled with bitterness and evil. During Chu Twin’s reign over his village, he and his son crippled four men. These atrocities would set the stage for a classic Kung Fu film about brotherhood and bloody revenge.
The town blacksmith, Mr. Wei, was forced to drink a liquid to make him mute, then was deafened by a two-handed ear clap delivered by Chu Twin himself. Mr. Wei had mouthed off earlier in the tavern because he wanted to sit upstairs but Chu Twin and his entourage occupied it. After Wei was forced to leave the tavern, a traveling hawker was blinded by the iron fingers of Chu Cho Chang for supporting the same sentiments as Wei. Another traveler who wishes to hire the blacksmith has his legs chopped off below the knee at the orders of Chu Twin, who had declared the blacksmith’s business off limits. One day a young Kung Fu master known as Yuan Yi comes to town and discovers the tortures committed by Chu Twin and goes to avenge the three crippled men. Yuan Yi is good, but he is young, and no match for Master Twin, his son, and his best strong arm, Mr. Wan. Yuan Yi is defeated, and bound in chains. Chu Twin turns him into an idiot by crushing his head in an iron head vice.
Together the now four disabled men travel to Yuan Yi’s master’s temple, where they are trained in Kung Fu. Each heightening his remaining senses to compensate for his individual disability. Wei, deaf and mute, learns sign language to communicate and wears reflective bands so he can see what he can’t hear. The hawker’s ears become his eyes, with the pin point accuracy to hear a leaf falling and stick it with a dart. Mr. Wei outfits the legless gimp with prosthetic iron legs and feet. Yuan Yi needed no further training, for he was already a master, however his Kung Fu was now more like Idiot Fu, constantly laughing and playing while fighting as if he were playing a child’s game. The four men make plans to return to town on Chu Twin’s 45th birthday and exact their revenge. Mr. Wan, Chu Twin’s enforcer, hires other Kung Fu masters to stop the unlikely heroes. The other masters, though very strong, underestimate and cannot stop the four.
In the final fight extra long fight scene the four misfit masters defeat Chu Twin and Chu Cho Chang, however Yuan Yi, the master of Idiot Fu, is killed sacrificing himself for another, all the while giddily laughing like a child. Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms is a classic Hong Kong Kung Fu film, making full use of the genres tell tale qualities of vengeance, loyalty, and brotherhood. Produced by Sir Run Run Shaw this film is Kung Fu through and through. With the theme of revenge, long fight scenes, training and the overcoming of strife, comic relief, and the final freeze frame shot symbolizing brotherhood and loyalty with the three remaining heroes walking away, hands joined and raised in victory.
Crippled Avengers is characterized by its long, uninterrupted action sequences, and its campy storyline and dialogue. The characters are examples of disabled fighters (a blind man, a pooja and an amputee), a popular motif in many martial arts films of the period.