|Plot Outline: Tu Tin Tao (Kuan Tai Chen), a wealthy and powerful Kung Fu master, is turned bitter and evil after his wife is murdered and his son’s arms are cut off in a raid on his home. As his son grows, Tao makes him iron hands and teaches him his special Tiger Style Kung Fu so that his son can do his evil bidding. Soon enough, everyone in town is frightened of him and his ego is enormous. Whenever someone opposes him, or offends him or his son, he has his son cripple them in various ways. After four men are left crippled, they decide to learn Kung Fu and take revenge. The blind man (Phillip Kwok), The Deaf and Mute man (Lo Meng), The Legless man (Chien Sun) and The man made into an idiot (Chiang Sheng). Together the four join forces to take down this tyrant.|
The Review: I can say this without any hesitation whatsoever, Crippled Avengers is one of the greatest old school Kung Fu films ever made. Of course this isn’t news to any of the fans out there, but if you’re interested in getting into the films of the Shaw Bros then you absolutely HAVE to see Crippled Avengers. It should be shown at the world’s most prestigious film schools, it should be celebrated amongst fans of HK filmmaking but should be held in high regard with any red blooded film fan who walks the earth. Children walking dirt roads in the rural south should scream the blessings of Phillip Kwok and Chiang Sheng amazing training scene involving a set of circular bars. This is a film that EVERY single person on this earth should see, regardless if they’ll like it or not. If Five Venoms was the greatest kung fu/drama Chang Cheh ever made, Crippled Avengers was his greatest all out action film.
I of course hold Five Venoms in higher regards than CA, but when it comes down to having to watch a fun Kung Fu film on a rainy day, I’ll always choose Crippled Avengers. The film is as silly as they come, and in some circles I’m quite aware it would be considered a ‘bad’ film, but if you were to call it something like that in front of me, you had better be prepared to face my Tiger style. I could never, and would never, consider a film that brings me such joy to be a ‘bad’ film. This was a film made with no other expectations than to please the audience, and that’s what it does, but the fact that it exceeds on every level is what keeps it elevated above many of the other films produced by The Shaws. The Venoms put in what is in my opinion their greatest work, and Cheh is so on top of his game here it isn’t funny. The zooms, the dialogue, the Kung Fu, the film is just viciously brilliant, on every possible level!
I realize films like this only have a niche audience, and what’s here probably wouldn’t appeal to many of the more ‘civilized’ of the film spectrum. If you have ever in your life though, felt the craving to watch a 70′s Kung Fu flick, or if you have ever been impressed by the ability and acrobatics of a martial artist in film, then you at least owe it to yourself to give Crippled Avengers a shot. If you’re a fan of hokey dialogue and bad dubbing, this film was made for you! At least every ten minutes you’ll get about three memorable and hilarious lines. The dialogue between Kuan Tai Chen (the father) and Lu Feng (The Son) when he just gets his iron hands is so priceless I’d be hard pressed to find another bit of dialogue that I love as dearly. “I got you Iron Hands. It took quite a while, but I think this pair is good” goes down in history as one of those timeless phrases that you can’t forget. Like “pass the meatloaf” or “a shark on whiskey is mighty risky, but a shark on beer is a beer engineer”
Anyway, I’ll move on to the facts. I haven’t seen every one of the Venoms collaboration’s, but from what I have seen, this is there absolute greatest work. The fight scenes are just breathtaking at times. Every member of the clan just exudes energy and it shows in their fighting. Backflips, somersaults, the clan does it all. It’s hard for me to choose who puts in the best show really, Lo Meng is phenomenally nimble for such a big guy, and watching him flip around like he does is almost surreal. Then again, Chiang Sheng’s character may get a little annoying, but his skill and his jumping ability seems unmatched. When I think of the best fight scenes in the film, I generally think of him. The fight scene I mentioned above with Sheng and Kwok together is really more of a sparring match, but it’s impressive none the less. Sheng throws a bunch of circular iron bars to Kwok, who then catches them in midair and puts his body through them. Things get interesting when Sheng gets aggravated and decides to take the bars from Kwok. Watching the two go through the choreography is so fun to watch, and it’s just so on timing and balletic, that it’s just incredibly engaging. That’s just a sparring match though, it all comes into play during the final fight scene with Chiang Sheng, Phillip Kwok and Lu Feng in a three way battle that goes down as probably my single favorite old school fight scene ever filmed. That says quite a lot too. Anyway, everybody puts in great performances in the film. Chien Sun as the legless man is probably the least impressive of the four, but that’s probably just me. I didn’t feel he got to do as much of the rest of the clan, but he was involved in one of my favorite scenes in the film. Can you say ‘foot through the chest’?
What else is there to say? As far as silly kung fu films go, you can’t get any better than this. Not to mention it’s probably the greatest team up of Chang Cheh and the venom’s since Five Venoms it’s self. If you haven’t seen it yet, get up, get out, and pick it up. I can almost guarantee you’ll at the least laugh at it.