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殘缺 (1978)
Crippled Avengers

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 05/05/2012
Summary: Calculated. Perverse. Compelling.

Calculated and perverse on many levels, this my favorite Chang Cheh movie. For me, this is his most compelling film. This is my favorite Chen Kuan-Tai performance. My man, Johnny Wang Lung-Wei is doing what he does so good in this movie. Be sure to seek out the "Return of the Five Deadly Venoms" version recently available worldwide. Nice.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 06/01/2007

It all sounds like a sick joke (or an episode of South Park), but Crippled Avengers is a Chang Cheh film reuniting most of the cast from his hit film The Five Venoms.

The plot is easy enough to follow. Towards the late 70’s, Cheh seemed to have given up on complicated, historically based projects and favoured more direct and fast-moving action films. This one’s basically about a rogue lord (Chen Kuan-Tai) who, having had his family killed or handicapped in an attack at his home, becomes obsessed with disabling anyone who stands up to him. He and his son (who had both arms sliced off and replaced with iron prosthetics) basically bully their way around town. Coming up against him results in one man losing the power of speech and hearing, one man losing his sight, another his legs and finally one man is reduced to having a childlike mentality. These men group together and go to Eagle Mansion, where they spend three years training and learning to work together to compensate for each others’ disabilities.

Which sounds pretty run-of-the-mill, not to mention slightly crazy and in bad taste. However, the only truly wacko stuff happens right at the start – after his young son has both arms severed, we immediately cut to him many years later as a grown man with artificial arms and his father saying, “I told you I would give you new arms!”, to which his son says something along the lines of, “Yes, these are the seventh set and by far the best!” That kind of bad scripting to show a passage of time (there’s probably a name for it, but I don’t know what it is) is just embarrassing to watch. We also see these new arms, which can fire lethal darts and extend – which is also a bit screwy. Thing is, all this happens in the first few minutes and I don’t think he ever uses them to any great advantage again in the movie!

Thankfully, the rest of the film is sheer class. The physicality of these men is truly awesome, and their skill is simply breathtaking. The exciting and plentiful fight scenes are peppered with acrobatics we’re probably never going to see again in this digital age, and the training scenes are some of the best that Kung Fu film fans can want for. The four heroes exhibit a great sense of camaraderie and have a very tangible chemistry with each other (although this could be because we know them from The Five Venoms) that at times this enters into “buddy” movie territory.

I don’t know if it was intended, but there’s also some really good, dark humour in this; in fact, it’s riddled with it. Again, I’m paraphrasing, but when Dao’s son meets the soon-to-be-blind Avenger, the dialogue goes something like this:

Dao’s son: Fight me!
Avenger: But you have no arms!
Dao’s son: Well, I have no arms and you have no eyes. It’s a fair fight!
Avenger: Why would you say that? I HAVE eyes!
Avenger: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrgghh! (Writhes around on floor in agony)

You have to admit, he asked for it.

This is the first time I’ve seen Crippled Avengers, despite its notoriety. I know someone’s going to tell me otherwise, but I just don’t think it was ever available in the UK. Which turns out well in the end because I’ve seen something truly fantastic in the genre for the first time and it gives me hope that there’s still more great films out there for me to discover. It’s films like this that make me proud to be a Kung Fu film fan. Crippled Avengers: where have you been all my life?

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 07/27/2005
Summary: A Chang Cheh classic...

Although not a true sequel to Five Deadly Venoms, this Chang Cheh film does feature three of the five Venoms as well as Chiang Sheng, who played the sixth Venom sent to find the original five. All four actors play new characters unrelated to the original movie. The movie starts out with a group of bandits, the Tigers of Tinan, breaking into the house of Tu Tinto. Not finding him, they decide to show him they mean business by chopping off his wife's legs and slicing his son's arms off at the elbow. Finding them short after, Tinto goes slightly insane and decides to fit his son with deadly iron arms that fire darts and have the ability to extend out. He also teaches him the three Tiger styles, which are suitable to defeat any opponent. Tinto and his cronies also run the local town with an iron fist, and exact terrible punishments on anyone disrespecting him or his handicapped son. The heroes of the movie all have the misfortune of making mistakes around the pair, and are crippled as a result. Chin Sun (Kuo Chai), a visiting salesman has his eyes poked out, the local blacksmith Wei (Lo Meng) is made mute and deaf, and Kuei (Sun Chien) has his legs cut off. When Wang Yi (Chiang Sheng), a traveling kung fu expert, comes across the three and decides to avenge them, he is defeated and has his skull crushed, effectively making him mentally retarded. The four return to Wang Yi's master and he teaches them to deal with their handicaps while enhancing their existing senses. Chin's hearing becomes highly accurate while Wei enhances his sight and uses mirrors to see things he can't hear. Kuei is fitted with iron legs that he uses to demolish anyone who challenges him. After three years of training, they set off to have revenge on Tinto and his family during his birthday celebration. Hearing the four have returned, Tinto's advisor hires some of the greatest martial artists to kill them, but to no avail. The death toll rises as the Crippled Avengers battle their way to the final showdown with Tinto and his son.

Crippled Avengers easily matches (if not exceeds) Five Deadly Venoms in terms of a great kung fu movie. Although the plot isn't quite as intricate or carried out as well, the martial arts are slightly superior and better choreographed. The blind Chin (Kuo Chai) uses weapons, including iron hoops and the short staff. Kuo Chia's scenes in which he uses the short staff are absolutely incredible, his technique and speed rivaling anything I've seen. Tinto's advisor uses an iron ball and chain which is also very exciting to watch. In addition, Crippled Avengers is a much more brutal than Five Deadly Venoms, with characters getting limbs chopped off, lying around in pools of blood and severed body parts, and being tortured. The most entertaining performances are given by Kuo Chai and Lo Meng (who acts and looks like a perfect cross between Bruce Lee and Bolo Yeung). If you liked Five Deadly Venoms, you'll love this film as well.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 12/22/2004
Summary: A very different inventive kung fu movie

Who thought of this movie? A blind man, a deaf mute, a legless man and a brain damaged hero have there revenge on the person who caused all this.

I didn't find this better than the 5 venoms, but interesting to watch.


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: weirdcat
Date: 11/17/2004
Summary: What a Corker!

This is an absolute must for KF movie fans. I won't go over the plot cuz it has already been covered. I will say the action on display is totally awesome. Slightly better that the 5 Venoms and difinitely on a par with Invincible Shaolin. This is one NOT to be missed.
It was so good I am gonna watch it again tonight.

Reviewer Score: 10

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/19/2003

Very good old-school kung fu movie with a standard revenge plot (a group of fighters wants revenge on the man who crippled them in various ways) paired with some bloody fight sequences. The script is done well, focusing on themes of loyalty and brotherhood that would, of course, figure heavily into the heroic bloodshed movies of the 1980's, most notably John Woo's (who worked under Chang during his early days in the HK movie industry).

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/17/2002
Summary: Very 'old school'

One of the most unlikely ideas for a movie of all time, for sure. Bad Guy Chen Kuan Tai isn't such a bad guy really, until some other bad guys kill his wife and chop off his sons hands. This makes him bitter against the world, and he turns into something of a tyrant. He also gets a pair of iron hands made for his son, and trains him in kung fu... and his son becomes an even worse tyrant. This pisses off our heroes, who try to teach them a lesson. But they underestimate the father & son's powers and fail, and in return they cripples each one of them in a different way. However, not to be deterred by being blind, deaf/dumb, legless and brain damaged respectively, the heroes train their kung fu to overcome their disabilities, and then go back to try again.

The idea is quite an interesting way to give each of the fighters a different style to use, although you won't buy the genuineness of their disabilities for a moment, and in the end their fighting all boils down to displaying the actors' incredible athleticism. The leaping, diving, rolling etc is all quite remarkable, although the fights are waay too choreographed as a result of showing it all off. You can't help but think that if they'd just stood there and hit each other the final showdown would all be over much quicker.

The movie's as old school as it comes, so that ought to be enough for you to decide if you'd like it or not. If you want to see some really impressive physical performances, it's a good bet. If you want a more rounded movie experience, probably not going to be found here.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 06/22/2001
Summary: Enjoyable piece


This is a great movie. However, Having seen many praises for it, I had very high expectation for the film. Though it meets most of them overall, I was quite disappointed with the first part. But don't let that get to ya, see the whole movie and feel great afterwards.

I'm especially fond of the light tone of the whole movie. It certainly does not even try to take itself too seriously. All the characters are quite likable and seemingly cool, even the bad guys, namely Chen Kuan Tai, Lu Feng and Wang Lung Wei.

The finale is action-packed. However, after a while you start to get a feeling that the guys are not really fighting any more, but rather, just displaying their kung fu skills and fooling around a bit. Otherwise, Chiang Sheng the heroic lunatic wouldn't have lasted 5 seconds with Lu Feng. Nevertheless, great fun all around.

Overall, not the best venoms movie, and the plot is somewhat flawed, but you will enjoy it, just like everybody else did.


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: battlemonkey
Date: 12/21/1999

A seemingly noble man is driven mad when his family isbutchered his son has his armed chopped off. He gets his son iron arms, and becomes a ruthless thug. Years later, he cripples the wrong four guys, as they all team up, learn special kung fu and decide to end the man's reign of terror. Possibly my favorite of all the Venom films. Spectacular fights, and the scene of the four crippled heroes limping and carting out of town is pathetically humourous. The crippled avengers are: the deaf and dumb man (Lo Meng), the blind man (Kuo Chui), the idiot (Chiang Sheng--aka "Cutie Pie"), and the legless man (Sun Chien). Lu Feng plays the armless man, and Chen Kuan Tai joins the venoms as the ruthless father.