The Five Venoms (1978)

In which the IRON MAIDEN is introduced as a torture device and several sparkling costumed fights take place while standing on walls! 

Chang Cheh’s The Five Venoms is already a renowned cult classic and fans of chop socky flicks know the reasons why as five unique martial arts fighting styles (centipede, snake, toad, scorpion, and lizard) are displayed by Cheh’s favorite actors - known as the Venom Mob - while a methodical murder whodunnit unfolds against the usual Shaw Brothers sets.  With a change of pace, several masked (and costumed!!) fighters, and a rousing dose of excellent choreography from Robert Tai Chi-Hsien, Leung Ting and Lu Feng, The Five Venoms a new era of chop socky entertainment is born!

" a classic of the genre"


No, this is not another Shaolin Temple movie.  Instead, Cheh and Shaw Brothers’ go-to writer Ni Kuang present audiences with a dying master’s last wish for his final student: find his previous students -  Centipede (Lu Feng), Scorpion (Sun Chien), Toad (Lo Mang), Gecko (Kuo Chui), and Snake (Wei Pei) - and stop them from stealing his treasure.  While Yan Tieh (Chiang Sheng) is a bystander for much of the movie, the truth is that he’s the final student of the Venom House with a big ol’ secret, just waiting to unveil it.

Which means we wait as long as he does for that rip-roaring finale! 

Considered a Hybrid Master, Yan knows each of the styles of the house, but is not as strong as the previous students of Venom House.  Yet, it is his task to find and reveal them - as they were trained wearing masks and don’t even know each other - in a bid to gain their trust and, hopefully, guard the treasure of Yan’s dying master (Dick Wei).  It is only for the purest of hearts and it seems some members of the Poison Clan are not so honest and true in their heart.

And now they are involved in a murder mystery!The Five Venoms (1978)

With its Poison Clan mythology set firmly in place, Cheh takes The Five Venoms to unexpected places and weaves together a murder investigation, complete with a witness who points the finger at members of the venom mob - which balances the chop socky madness quite well.  Sure, some will prefer the straight-up action to the investigation but there’s no dismissing the fact that Cheh is trying to merge genres into a tightly-wound murder investigation and it works more often than it doesn’t. 

As the pieces are assembled for the grand finale our appetites are whetted with some sampling of the type of fights and moves we are going to see.  This brilliant use of training footage is, at once, a deadly mix of intoxicating Kung Fu choreography and humor, making The Five Venoms a marvelous and relevant piece of pop culture splatterhouse art as Cheh loves his gore.  

For Cult film enthusiasts, this one is an easy chop socky flick to appreciate and, thanks to the efforts of Arrow Video, the movie can now be appreciated visually as it is included in the release of SHAW BROTHERS PRESENTS | FOUR FILMS BY CHANG CHEHThe Five Venoms, packaged alongside Five Shaolin Masters, Crippled Avengers, and Shaolin Temple, is now on blu-ray.  All the films feature 2K scans from 4K transfers, new sub-titles for better accuracy, and are filled with hours of special features.

While Cheh often dismisses this era of his filmography as one where he struggled to find relevance, The Five Venoms is a classic of the genre!

5/5 chops

 The Five Venoms (1978)

Blu-ray Details

Home Video Distributor: Arrow Films
Available on Blu-ray
- October 24, 2023
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
: English; English SDH
Mandarin: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono; English: DTS-HD Master Audio Mono
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; 2-disc set
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

By the early-1970s, Chang Cheh was already Shaw Brothers' most prolific and well-known director with a plethora of box office hits (including the One-Armed Swordsman franchise) to his name and renowned for discovering the hottest young talents to star in his films.  Three of those stars - David Chiang, Ti Lung and Alexander Fu Sheng - all feature in Five Shaolin Masters and Shaolin Temple, two selections from his instant-classic 'Shaolin Temple Cycle', based on the real-life tales of fighters training to face off against the ruthless Qing armies taking over China. A few years later, Chang outdid himself with the formation of the all-powerful posse of kung fu experts known to fans as the Venom Mob, whose talents would be showcased most famously in The Five Venoms and Crippled Avengers.


Presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, The Five Venoms is beautifully presented on 1080p from Arrow Video.  Interiors are strong.  Colors pop throughout, but it is the blood effects - burning bright in the transfer - which seal the deal on this one.  It’s full of great atmosphere thanks to the quick-footed script and looks visually eye-popping due to the 1080- upgrade.  Black levels are strong throughout, bringing out nice details in both the loud and quiet moments of this epic adventure.  The tracking shots are glorious to behold in 1080p. Blacks are solid and shadows maintain their lines.  Even the costumes are noted stitch by stitch.


Fans of the genre get uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono tracks, plus Cantonese mono for the film.


Get ready to duel to the death with these supplemental items!


  • See Special Features for the breakdown.

Special Features:

Disc One - Five Shaolin Masters / Shaolin Temple

  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films
  • English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dub
  • Appreciation of Chang Cheh by film critic and historian Tony Rayns
  • Interview with star Kong Do, filmed in 2003
  • Elegant Trails: David Chiang and Elegant Trails: Ti Lung, two featurettes on the actors produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003
  • Alternate standard-definition version of Shaolin Temple
  • Alternate opening credits from Five Masters of Death, the US version of Five Shaolin Masters
  • Alternate opening credits sequences for Shaolin Temple
  • Trailers
  • Image galleries for both films

Disc Two - The Five Venoms / Crippled Avengers

  • 2K restorations of both films from the original negatives by Arrow Films
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation
  • Uncompressed Mandarin and English original mono audio for both films plus Cantonese mono for The Five Venoms
  • English subtitles for both films, plus English hard-of-hearing subtitles for the English dubs
  • Commentary on The Five Venoms by critic Simon Abrams
  • Interview with star Lo Meng, filmed in 2003
  • Chang Cheh: The Master, a featurette about the director produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003
  • Trailers for The Five Venoms
  • Hong Kong theatrical trailer for Crippled Avengers
  • Image galleries for both films

Blu-ray Rating

  Movie 5/5 stars
  Video  5/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 5/5 stars

Composite Blu-ray Grade

5/5 stars

 Film Details

The Five Venoms

MPAA Rating: R.
101 mins
: Cheh Chang
Kuang Ni; Cheh Chang
Sheng Chiang; Chien Sun; Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok
: Action | Drama

Memorable Movie Quote:
Shaw Brothers
Official Site:
Release Date:
August 12, 1978 (Hong Kong)
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
October 24, 2023
Synopsis: The sixth and final pupil of a dying martial arts teacher is instructed to find the teacher's five former pupils and defeat any evil ones that are among them.


The Five Venoms