Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Five Deadly Venoms

Classic Shaw Bros. Kung-Fu flick has lots of colorful set pieces and action. Each of the deadly Poisons are great ranging from the wall crawling Lizard whos ability to fight with speed and agility from walls is ultra cool!

The super strong Toad is almost invincible in any form of attack. His skill lies in his defence

The Centipede is fast and wiggly! His ability to move fast makes him seem like he has 1000 legs and arms.
The double threat of the Scorpion. His kicking ability is as deadly as the tail of the scorpion and his hands are as deadly as pincers.

The Snake fights with percision. His one hand the deadly fangs the other hand the whipping rattling tail.
Although never referred to it in the film there is a 6th venom. He is a hybrid of the five venoms. But is the weakest of the five because he has never completely studied any of the five. He is also the one character that provides a bit of comedy relief as he bumbles his way around.
Released in 1978 and directed by Chang Cheh who directed several other legendary films like The One-Armed Swordsman.
The plot involves the Hybrid Venom being dispatched by his dying master to look out for a friends fortune. He is afraid that the venoms have been using their skills for evil and is afraid his friend is under threat. The Hybrid Venom is to track down the venoms and see if are an allie or a threat.
The film is stylish. Chang Cheh lights darkend dungeons with vibrant colors. Mario Bava would have been proud! Some of the best moment come during the first several minutes of the film when we are introduced to the Poison Clan. Cheh uses brilliant and memorable imagry for each of them.
The fights are pretty amazing. Especially the 5 man fight at the end. It has to be seen to be believed. And with a complex story the weaves all around The Five Deadly Venoms definatly deserves its cult status!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Big Racket = my favorite Poliziotteschi

The Big Racket is far and away my favorite Poliziotteschi. Poliziotteschi, for those not familiar, is the genre name of the Italian Crime Film that started around the late 60's. The prime time for this genre was during the 70's with titles like Rome Armed To The Teeth, Milano Calibro 9, Almost Human, Street Law, Beast With A Gun, The Sicillian Connection and Violent City. Some stared American actors like Charles Bronsan, Violent City. While Italian actors like Franco Nero, Ray Lovelock and Fabio Testi, all of whom acted in all genres of the Italian Exploitation field did some of their finest work in the Poliziatteschi.

While i covered just a small bit of Franco Nero's work in Street Law with one of my first posts, I am going to cover another film from the maestro of the Poliziotteschi, director Enzo G Castellari.
The Big Racket is Castellari at his finest. Although he has made countless gems like Street Law, High Crime and the mystical spaghetti western Keoma. The Big Racket stands as his greatest achievment in filmmaking in my humble opinion. Ive watched the film twice now and each time ive been blown away by the style. One scene in particular involves our hero, Testi, being attacked in his car by the ruthless and sleazy villians and having his car overturned and flipped down a hill side. All the while the camera catches all the action and destruction from inside the cab with Testi actually inside the automobile as it flips! Glass is shattering all over him as we see the ground rolling up and over him. I really dont know how this was done and it definatly makes for high entertainment! The edits in this film are fast and great too. Almost in the style of early George Romero when he was still editing his films. And the fights are coreographed with expertise. I think almost all of today filmmakers should study Castellari action to see how its done. Its never fast and and cut quick. We see why the badass hero is a badass hero....unlike Jason Bourne!!?

Although standard in story, tough cop takes the law into his own hands, Castellari adds the element of Testi getting together a sort of 'Dirty Dozen' of victims to take the law into their own hands. Add a villian that looks like Steve Perry from Journey and a incredible De Angelis Bros. Score and you have one of the most entertaining films in Euro history!

This sleazy action packed masterpiece is not to be missed and is defianatly the best place to start if just getting into these films. God bless Enzo G. Castellari!