The Martial World battles a tarantula, a real tarantula
Yuen Chor is possibly the most Chinese culture based of all of the Shaw directors. HIs films are almost always based on a work of literature and his film sets are designed like classical Chinese illustrations. On the other hand he has directed some of the most absurd costume dramas that came out of the studio. Web of Death is an entertaining mix of both Yuen Chor styles.
The film starts out immediately with the crazy stuff as the Five Venom Spider is used to kill a group of fighters. Unlike other films of this nature, the spider is an actual spider that is kept in a metal lamp. Open the lamp and the tarantula sized spider roars like an elephant and shoots out an enormous amount of smoke and multi-colored rays that turn into poisonous web. That sets the tone of the film. Actually the script is much better then later Yuen Chor martial world dramas that are less crazy. The story based around the daughter of the Poison clan leader is compelling and reminiscent of "Crouching Tiger".
The story moves with a good pace although the editing gets uneven at the end. The sets are opulent and the lighting is very moody. Some of the film approaches a magical realism, at one point the heroine, for example, boats across a lake on a large cherry blossom branch that moves with a wave of the hand. Later the film gets surreal as we are treated to the spectacle of ten super martial artists fearfully surrounding a life size tarantula.
Fun and strange with better drama then normal for this genre.
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