A dying teacher instructs his final student to check on the activities of five former pupils, each of whom he taught a unique and special style of kung-fu to: The Centipede, Snake, Scorpion... See full summary »
Jet Li weasels out of the north Shaolin temple to assassinate a despotic ruler at the ruler's extravagant public birthday celebration. Two other men from the south Shaolin temple also set ... See full summary »
The Emperor's armies have developed a new weapon: a thrown blade that can remove someone's head from long distance. As the paranoid Emperor begins decapitating anyone he fears might be a ... See full summary »
The workers of a dye factory have their pay cut by 20% when the factory owner brings in some Manchu thugs to try and increase production. Desperate to reclaim their full wages, the workers ... See full summary »
Fong Sai Yuk's uninhibited arrogance toward a Manchu lord forces him to seek refuge in a Shaolin temple. Although abundantly trained in the martial arts, he is no match for Master San Te, ... See full summary »
A Chinese man (Liu) marries a Japanese woman through an arranged marriage and manages to insult all of her Japanese martial arts family by issuing a challenge to her that is misinterpreted ... See full summary »
Lei Li lost his right-arm in a sword duel with the master of a martial arts school, long ago. Now, he is able to defend himself well with just his left arm, and kung fu techniques. That he ... See full summary »
Back in the mid-1980s, when was around 10-14 years old, there was a show on one of the basic cable channels called either Black Belt Theatre or Kung Fu Theatre...I can't remember which (whenever they came back from commercial, they would quote from Confucious before resuming the film). They played lots and lots of Shaw Brothers films from the 1970s, among other martial arts films. I remember trying to tune in every Sunday afternoon to get my fix of kung fu action.
Anyway, these days I barely remember anything about the movies I saw in those days...I remember a scene here and there, but nothing major. One movie, though, burned itself into my brain and I've never been able to forget it -- that film was Five Masters of Death (aka Five Shaolin Masters). About six months ago, after not having seen this movie for well over a decade, I decided to see if it was still as great as I remembered so I hopped on the internet and found a place where I could buy it on VHS.
This movie is still excellent. My VHS copy is of understandably poor quality, but the film is still a joy to watch. Each of the five protagonists specializes in a different style of fighting, as do the opposing five antagonists, so the film is chock full of great kung fu. I also find the story to be more engaging and epic in feel than most martial arts movies I've seen (however, I am far from being an authority on the genre). The theme music which plays repeatedly throughout is great...it helps give the film its epic feel and is very catchy--I find myself singing it in my head for days after watching this movie.
At any rate, I love this movie. I wish there was still something like Black Belt Theatre (or Kung Fu Theatre) on cable so I could catch some more of the Shaw Brothers era of kung fu film. Martial arts films of today use undercranking and especially wirework far too much--I find myself more impressed by films like Five Masters of Death which rely on "natural" skills.
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