Five Deadly Venoms
Hong Kong theatrical poster
|Directed by||Chang Cheh|
|Produced by||Runme Shaw|
|Written by||Ni Kuang
|Music by||Frankie Chan|
|Cinematography||Cho Wai Kei
Kung Mu To
|Editing by||Chiang Hsing Lung|
|Studio||Shaw Brothers Studio|
|Distributed by||Shaw Brothers Studio|
|Release date(s)||12 August 1978|
|Running time||98 minutes|
Five Venoms ('五毒' - Cantonese: Mm Dook) aka Five Deadly Venoms is a cult 1978 Hong Kong martial arts film directed by Chang Cheh, starring the Venom Mob, and produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio, about five kung-fu fighters with unique animal styles: The Centipede, The Snake, The Scorpion, The Lizard and The Toad. The film was listed at number 11 on Entertainment Weekly's Top 50 Cult Films list.
The dying master of the powerful Poison Clan dispatches his last pupil, Yan Tieh, on a crucial mission. Worried that the skills he has taught are being used to evil ends, he orders Yan to trace a retired colleague and warn him that the fortune he amassed from the clan's activities is under threat from five of his former pupils, each an expert in his own lethal combat style. Yan must discover the whereabouts and true identities of these masked warriors, and decide which, if any, he can trust to join him in his mission.
Each of the Poison Clan is alternatively referred to as either their venom style code name, or as their number in regard to the order of being taught by the master (except Yan, who is never referred to as "Number 6", nor has any particular animal style). Among fans, he is known as "Hybrid Venom," as his training contains a little bit of each of the five styles, but it is incomplete, and he must align with one of the venoms to stand a chance against any of the others.
Number 1: Centipede Wriggly and quick, this style is a nice blend of defensive and offensive posturing. The strikes are so fast that it is almost as if he has a hundred arms and legs. The weakness of this style as revealed by Yan Tieh (told by his master) is to attack both the opponent's upper and lower body in a simultaneous assault.
Number 2: Snake On one hand: the mouth, venomous fangs emulated in precise finger motor control. On the other: the stinging whip of a rattling tail. Masters of this ability can even fight extremely well while lying on their back from the floor. The weakness of this style as revealed by Yan Tieh (told by his master) is to stop the "head" and "tail" (the opponent's two arms) from combining, as neither the head nor tail can function well individually.
Number 3: Scorpion The scorpion represents a double threat! Kicks from the Scorpion style are just like the stinging tail of the namesake. When delivered by a master, a single kick can paralyze or even kill, let alone the strong pincer-style attack of the arms to contend with. The weakness in this style is not clearly revealed as Yan Tieh is cut off from his explanation but one can assume (by watching The Scorpion in his bout with Yan Tieh and The Lizard) that it would be to stay out of reach of The Scorpion's damaging kicks and make him come to you.
Number 4: Lizard An emphasis on speed and gravity, the Lizard style is best known for the ability to walk on walls, and can fight with ease from such positions.
Number 5: Toad Toads don't do much, but they are tough. That is the essence of this style, a primarily defensive pose. The Toad is invincible to just about any form of attack, including blades and puncture. They can even bend solid metal. The weakness of this style is that any master of the Toad style has a "weak spot" that when punctured, drains the user's Toad style benefits (most notably the iron skin.) Number 5's weak spot were his ears as shown in his fight with The Snake, when The Scorpion secretly struck his ears with his darts. Apparently, the easiest way to discover the weak spot in one's Toad style is to use an Iron Maiden.
- Chiang Sheng as Yang Tieh, last student of the Venom House
- Sun Chien as Gao Ji, the Scorpion/Chief Constable Ma
- Kuo Chui as Meng Tianxia, the Lizard/Constable He Yu
- Lo Mang as Liang Shen, the Toad/Li Hao
- Wei Pei as Qi Dong, the Snake/Hong Wentong
- Lu Feng as Zhang Yiaotian, the Centipede/Tan Shanhu
- Wang Lung-wei as Justice Wang
- Ku Feng as Bookkeeper Yuan
- Dick Wei as dying Head of Five Venoms House
Cultural references 
- The film is referenced in the video game World of Warcraft where a poison selling shop in the city of Stormwind is named "The Five Deadly Venoms"
- The film was referenced extensively in Juuken Sentai Gekiranger, in which the Five Venom Fists (五毒拳 Godokuken ) are based directly upon the Five Deadly Venoms, each reflecting the fighting styles in the film. In turn, they were brought into Power Rangers Jungle Fury as the Five Fingers of Poison.
- This film is also referenced frequently in the works of the Wu-Tang Clan.
- In addition to the Wu-Tang references, member Masta Killa sampled the films music on his 2004 album, No Said Date
- In the indie comic book series Infinite Kung-Fu, the major villains have taught themselves the forbidden poison styles, which are the same styles displayed in The Five Deadly Venoms.
- The film is referenced in a scene in the film Waking Life when Wiley Wiggins character turns on the television.
- Metal/Hardcore band Merauder's 1999 album was entitled "Five Deadly Venoms."
- The film True Legend, by Yuen Woo Ping, features a villain who uses "Five Venoms Fists."
- In Kill Bill the five assassins of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are a reference to the Five Deadly Venoms.
- American progressive metal band Shaolin Death Squad's second full-length album released in 2010 is called "Five Deadly Venoms", and its songs from 2nd to 6th have styles' names.
- In the movie Iron Monkey, when Yu Rongguang's character is struck by the deadly and venomous Buddha's palm technique, Yu Rongguang's character instructs his assistant to create an anti venom from the venom's of the centipede, viper, scorpion, and gekko, he passes out before revealing the final venom ingredient, though presumably it was that of the toad.
- In the new 2010 film True Legend, the foster brother of Su (The Drunken Master), Yuan, has mastered the 5 Venom Fists. His dead father was using it to kill innocent people and was killed by Su's father to stop him. In another scene, they show Yuan putting his arms into nests with the 5 venom creating creatures, and they inject and give it to him through his skin. They portray it as the source of his Qi.
- In the DreamWorks movie Kung Fu Panda, the supporting cast includes the Furious Five, anthropomorphic martial artists referring to martial arts styles (Crane, Tigress, Mantis, Monkey, and Viper). In the DVD commentary, they are openly stated to be based on the Five Deadly Venoms
- In American rapper Tupac Shakur's second studio album Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z., the final track is titled "5 Deadly Venomz".