Venom Mob

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The Venom Mob is the colloquial title of a group of actors from the Shaw Brothers Studio, popular creators of martial arts films in the 1970s and 1980s. Most were friends since childhood and attended the Peking Opera School in Taiwan before meeting director Chang Cheh and moving on to the Shaw Brothers studio in Hong Kong.

They appeared in numerous Shaw films, but did not become a group in high demand until Five Deadly Venoms. They were the main choreographers in all of their films, highly skilled Chinese weapon experts, talented actors, and excellent acrobats. Their films usually dealt with Chang Cheh's common themes of brotherhood, valor, and betrayal.

As with most groups, time saw their talents being pulled in different directions, not to mention in-fighting for starring roles and production credits.

Roster[edit]

This is the main 5 (though there are six, Chiang Sheng is actually the 5th member of the Venoms, not Wei Pai who only appeared in 4 films with the others).

Role Performer AKA Background
Hero Kuo Chui #4 Lizard He usually played the lead hero and was the last man standing with the exception of four films. An acrobat and stuntman recruited by Liu Chia-Liang in Taiwan (after appearing in Wang Yu's Master Of The Flying Guillotine fighting Liu Chia-Yung) for Chang's 1975 film Marco Polo. This was followed by cameos in The Fantastic Magic Baby, The Boxer Rebellion, New Shaolin Boxer and The Magnificent Wanderers. His directorial debut was Ruthless Tactics in 1983. He did have one villainous role, that of the White Dragons crime boss in The Chinatown Kid (1977) opposite the late Hong Kong actor Alexander Fu Sheng.
Villain Lu Feng #1 Centipede A weapons expert and usually the villain, he received very few heroic roles. Chu Lu Feng was also recruited in Taiwan and began is small bit parts in films such as The 7 Man Army, Shaolin Avengers, New Shaolin Boxers and The Chinatown Kid. He was one of the titular The Naval Commandos before cementing his reputation as a villain in both Heaven And Hell and Shaolin Temple. He is the only one of the actors to receive a credit as a "Fighting Instructor" on The Five Venoms.
Hero Chiang Sheng The Student Known for his acrobatic ability he usually was cast as a comedic character who supported the hero Kuo Chui. His on screen debut was a comedic flashback with Lu Feng in the opening act of Shaolin Avengers followed by a pair of villainous bit parts in The Brave Archer and The Chinatown Kid. Official debut films were The Naval Commandos and Shaolin Temple filmed back to back. Was also Chang Cheh's assistant director on several films. These 3 formed an ensemble that would remain together after departing from the Shaw Studio in films such as Ruthless Tactics (a.k.a. Ninja In The Deadly Trap) and Fight Among The Supers. Chiang Sheng died in 1991 of a heart attack after a divorce and alcohol abuse.
Hero/Villain Sun Chien #3 Scorpion Primarily known for his kicking ability, he could be good or evil in Venom films depending on his role in the story. Sun Chien was a native Taiwanese recruited by Chang Cheh for Chinatown Kid to play opposite Fu Sheng. He practiced Tae Kwan-Do in the military and as a result many sources inaccurately report him as Korean. Sun Chien also worked for directors Sun Chung (Human Lanterns), Chu Yuan (Spirit Of The Sword), and Liu Chia-Liang (The Lady Is The Boss) among others.
Hero/Villain Lo Mang #5 Toad Known for his physique and physical strength, he usually was the first one to get killed. He did survive in two of the films (Crippled Avengers and Invincible Shaolin). Mainly a supporting hero with Kuo Chui, but a villain two or three times. Was an accountant at Chang Cheh Film Co. in Taiwan who studied Mantis for years before landing bit roles in Shaolin Temple and The Brave Archer. This led to a trio of modern-day parts showcasing his physique in The Chinatown Kid, Heaven And Hell, as well as Deadly Strike (a.k.a. "Soul Brothers Of Kung-Fu") for Shaw's satellite company Eternal Films. Afterwards, he returned to the Brave Archer series in an expanded role as 'The Iron Palm' before starring as "The Toad #5" in Five Venoms one of his signature roles. (The other being Kid With The Golden Arm the following year.)
Hero/Villain Wei Pai #2 Snake Did not star in many films with the previous five. He did not possess the same fighting skills as the rest of the group and preferred drama to action. In addition to The Five Venoms, Wei Pai only starred in Chang Cheh's Invincible Shaolin, Ten Tigers Of Kwangtung (which was shelved for a year due to Fu Sheng's injuries, hence the 1980 release date), The Kid With The Golden Arm and a flashback sequence in Brave Archer Part 2. He defected to Golden Harvest and starred in Chang Cheh protégé John Woo's Last Hurrah for Chivalry the following year.

2nd Tier Venoms[edit]

Those listed (males) usually were the supporting villains with Lu Feng, if Lu Feng had a rare hero role the lead villain was usually either Wang Lung-Wei or Wang Li. Lung Tung-Sheng was usually a questionable character in a film who ended up siding with the heroes in the end. Females listed were usually "eye-candy" and got little fighting time in Venom films.

Venom Films[edit]

Films directed by Chang Cheh (or a Venom) that feature at least three Venoms in starring roles. [Original Hong Kong English Titles (Production Company; Original Hong Kong Release Date) … Alternate English Titles]

Venom-Related Films[edit]

Films directed by Chang Cheh that feature Venoms in supporting roles or fewer than three Venoms in starring roles. [Original Hong Kong English Titles (Production Company; Original Hong Kong Release Date) … Alternate English Titles]

See also[edit]