Cha shou (1981) Poster

(1981)

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The Venoms get down !
joethecondor6 November 2001
Man, if this movie isn't the stone coldest flick I have ever seen, I don't know what is. Most of the venoms, with maybe Wei Pei as an exception come back, and the final fight sequence in the villians hide out, is one of the most amazingly choreographed martial arts sequences ever filmed. Kicks, flips, and clashing steel tridents all over the place, if your a martial arts movie fan it don't get better than this.
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10/10
Another gruesome Chang Cheh bloodfest
venoms510 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
A bloodthirsty gang of masked killers are hunted by a group martial arts masters only to become the hunted themselves. A mysterious cook (Kuo Chui) traveling with the heroes is suspecting of being a member of the devilish gang. During the finale, the gang is traced to an old temple that has now been equipped with an array of booby traps where the last bloody battle takes place.

Chang Cheh is at his bloody and gruesomely violent best here in this kung fu mystery movie. The violence is piled on thick for this super stylized comic book adventure that was winding down his Venom cycle. Almost equals Chang's FIVE ELEMENT NINJAS (1982) in terms of the elaborately staged action sequences. The finale alone is worth buying the DVD. Absolutely one of the finest pieces of martial choreography ever put to film. No comedy to be found whatsoever which resulted in this film bombing in HK what with audiences at the time wanted their kung fu funny and not at all serious. What a crime as the Venoms pull out the stops for the showdown in the deathtrap laden Buddhist temple itself a warm up for the same years HOUSE OF TRAPS.

Kuo Chui plays a similar character to Lung Tien Sheng's role in the Venom film FLAG OF IRON (1980). You're not sure if you can trust him or not or what exactly his motivations are in the film. Is he a good guy, or bad guy? Chin Su Ho is the one friend of Chui's here and the only one who trusts him. Chin, who is a bit naive, is also smart and well versed in kung fu. He repeatedly tries to get Chui's character to reveal his intentions to him as his brothers constantly berate him for trusting the suspicious cook.

Chiang Sheng plays against type here taking his role as the leader of the martial men very seriously. In most of his films he plays a comedic foil to Kuo Chui but not here. He plays it straight all the way.

Lu Feng is again on display to look menacing which he does better than any kung fu screen villain. It doesn't take a Venom fan worth his salt to figure out Lu's role here, but it's fun just the same guessing who the three masked chief's are.

The gang has three chiefs. They wear gold masks and all the members wear masks as well. The entire gang use tridents as weapons which furthers their resemblance to devil-like creatures seen in many painting depicting Hell. These killers even drink the blood (mixed with wine) of the enemies they are paid to kill. The fact that the gang all look like devils makes for a striking contrast when they take up residence inside an old temple. They even utilize numerous Buddha statues as weapons turning them into spinning wheels by which they tie their victims and use them for target practice or eject them into the air as moving targets.

Throughout Chang Cheh's vast movie-making career he has indulged in many scenes of impalements akin to what is seen in Peking Opera. Here, it's on overdrive. Some poor souls are impaled up to 7 or 8 times before they expire. This film probably holds a record for the most impalements seen in a film. Also on hand are the usual secret weapons expected in the Venoms films. The trap-filled temple at the end has enough for two movies.

A highly recommended Shaw Brother's production that should be in any kung fu fans collection.
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Missing a few of the Mob, but an engaging narrative leading to an impacting and brutal final sequence
bob the moo16 November 2014
Although we're a couple of venoms down (and feeling it), this film generally has enough about it to make up for the feeling that a couple of faces are missing – particularly for a viewer like me, who only really knows them as a mob, rather than individuals. In this film we have a ruthless gang, all wearing masks and exclusively fighting with tridents, killing people with anonymous abandon. They mess with the wrong group, leading to a hunt to track down the masked gang – however with their identities a secret, can anyone be trusted? And who is the deliberately mysterious cook Kao Yao, who seems to have more interest in the gang than he lets on?

Although there are too many characters in this film, it does have a good sense of plot and mystery to it, as we build well towards a final confrontation where identities and loyalties are exposed for all to see. The plot is not as twisty and turny as it could have been, there is a good sense of the characters not all being what we think they are, and being part of a mystery rather than the normal black hat/white hat situation. At times perhaps it doesn't have as much action as you would like, but the intrigue over the gang's identity helps keep things interesting. The fights using the tridents are okay; mostly they produce acrobatics and baton-twirling rather than real tension in the fight sequences.

This is not the case in the final battle though; this is set in a temple, with dramatic entrances, plenty of violence, dramatic deaths, and some very good choreography in the action, which mixes the acrobatic skills but also has a brutality to it that adds value. The cast may seem full in some regards, but also the lack of a couple of the main crew makes it feel like there is a gap too. This hurts some of the actors who I did not know, since they do remind one that they would not be there if option 1 had stayed with the mob. Kwok is still very good though and leads the cast well, along with Sheng Chiang.

Overall Masked Avengers may be missing a few actors that we are accustomed to seeing, but generally it works well thanks to a good plot, solid action, and a particularly brutal final battle.
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5/10
Exciting but monotonous Chang Cheh actioner
fertilecelluloid28 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
"Cha shou" ("Masked Avengers") is an exciting but monotonous martial arts pic directed by the esteemed Chang Cheh, one of John Woo's greatest influences. I always have a problem with the set-bound nature of these movies and enjoy fare such as "Beach of the War Gods" so much more. Still, this is a smoothly photographed, bloody revenge drama with an emphasis on impalings. Ringo Lam probably saw this once or twice before making his amazing "Burning Paradise" because it bears many tonal similarities. Interestingly, Brian May's "Mad Max" soundtrack is used/stolen throughout the pic and often felt inappropriate to me because I couldn't disassociate it from the Mel Gibson classic. A handsome Shaw production with a stellar cast, but handicapped by an old, hoary plot. The sequences featuring the masked fighters possess a creepy quality at times.
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"Bloody Marvelous (literally)."
wayne-williams26 February 2000
With possibly no more than three exceptions, I never met a movie by Run Run Shaw I didn't like. THIS one I Like - it's got the Venom posse, it's got the tried and true formula - betrayal, murder and revenge - that works, it's got awesome moves (WHO GIVES A RIP IF THEY USE WIRES), and most of all, the villans get theirs in the end.

Works for me.
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10/10
Nothing but a Masterpiece!
jag_hatar_grodor9 August 2010
After watching this movie for the first time yesterday, I was debating with myself as to how to rate it. Then I slowly started to realize that it is without a doubt one of the best martial arts movies I've ever seen! Even though I was dead tired, I couldn't keep my eyes off the fight scenes for even a second, and that goes for pretty much all the fights, not just the last one.

The story is actually a bit refreshing, and at least tries to be a little bit more original than usual, and I must say it kept me hooked for most parts throughout, and that's not bad for a Kung Fu-movie. However, it suffers from the same flaws as all venom movies; so many characters who look and act alike are thrown in our faces and they die like flies. There's no way you can keep track of who's who and who does what, just as usual. Chiang Sheng sums it up pretty perfectly when he dines with Lu Feng in the beginning: "I must introduce you to my men, but still with so many I can't introduce them all". That's exactly how I feel too. Lo Meng and Su Chien are absent from this movie, but it's actually forgettable since the "substitutes" make a really good job and the extras are just as good as ever. Lo Meng and Su Chien are, as we all know, usually killed of halfway in most movies anyway, so Masked Avengers doesn't really suffer from it.

The fighting is outstanding, and simply flawlessly choreographed. The venom mob really got their fighting choreography together in the early 80's and the result of their hard work can be seen here. The end fight is epic with tons of lethal traps, outrageous deaths and slick editing.

A movie that you can watch a 100 times and not get tired of. Watch it immediately!
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10/10
Gotta Love The Venoms
Reese2 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This is a must see Venom movie. I have seen this movie at least five times. And it never gets boring. If you are a Shaw Brother fan. You gotta pick this one up. Everyone of the Venoms are in this movie. Except for the guy that plays the Snake. To go into brief details. This movie is about a Clan or should I say Gang. And one of the members leave and hide out for a while. Because the Gang is vicious and kill men, women, and children. I think the guy that left was number two in command. He actually has a heart not like his crazy gang. So the gang go after him. This movie has it all. The gang is so crazy that they mix wine with the blood of the people they kill.
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8/10
Eat your heart out Iron Man.
BA_Harrison1 July 2016
If your knowledge of Avengers movies begins and ends with the exploits of Captain America and company, you really should check out The Masked Avengers: they haven't got 'superpowers' as such, but their moves are just as awesome, and all executed without the aid of millions of dollars of CGI.

The film follows a group of highly trained martial artists dedicated to hunting down a gang of vicious masked killers for hire whose weapon of choice is the trident. After tracking the masked assassins to the town of Jingyang, the brave fighters find themselves attacked and killed one-by-one. Will they uncover the identities of the gang's three leaders (whose golden masks come with fancy coloured beards) and make them pay before it is too late? Of course they will…

To be honest, there are just a few too many very similar characters to keep track of to make this a wholly satisfying martial arts classic, but with so much impressive kung fu, and lots of bright red blood (gory impalements and slashing aplenty), the film still qualifies as an essential slice of Shaw Brothers chop-socky madness.

After much mystery and murderous martial arts mayhem, the whole thing boils down to an absolutely stunning showdown between the baddies and the surviving good guys (who get a little help from an ex-leader of the gang turned hero, played by Philip Kwok), the fantastic finale taking place at the villains' booby trapped temple, which comes equipped with acid jets, arrow traps, and deadly spiked doors.
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10/10
The Shaw Brothers Venom gang at it's finest.
Warning: Spoilers
When I was a child I lived for these classic Martial arts flicks, above all was the films done by the Shaw Brothers. As proved with the Kill Bill movies, seeing that SB in front of a film you knew you were in for a ride.

Cha Shou or Masked Avengers as I knew it was absolutely no exception, My personal favorite above all the other Venom gang films this one starts out with a pretty straight forward premise. The surviving members and friends of families assassinated by a guild of killers known only as 'The Mask' (because of their trademark Bronze mask) vow to hunt down and kill these assassins.The Mask are already prepared for these so called 'Avengers' and lay out trap after trap and battle after battle killing them up until a classic Kung-Fu show down not to be missed. Plus as a added plot point actor Philip Kwoks(Lizard of 5 Venoms fame)character 'the cook' of the hotel in which the heroes reside has a plan of vengeance his own.

If you are a fan of these classic films and especially a fan of the Venom Gang you have to see this film. Like it or hate it, it'll be a hell of ride your in for watching this film. So what are you waiting for? Go check it out.
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8/10
Another winner from the Venoms team
Leofwine_draca14 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
MASKED AVENGERS is a kung fu mystery from director Chang Cheh, and another winning production from the splendid team at Shaw Brothers. This one's a Venom movie that deliberately harks back to FIVE DEADLY VENOMS, with a gang of bad guys going around committing brutal murders and hiding behind ornate masks. The heroes of the film, led by an unusually serious Chiang Sheng, do their best to work out the identity of the bad guys, which any Venom fan will guess from the outset.

This is the typically action-packed production which excels both in terms of plot and drama, and features some great and bloody bouts to boot. The emphasis is on trident fighting here, and things build to a wonderful brawl in a booby-trapped temple, featuring all manner of physics-defying mayhem and the like. Phillip Kwok is very good value as the mysterious waiter while Lu Feng remains at the top of his game. It's a pity that Sun Chien and Lo Meng are missing, but Wang Li does show up, and the film is so much fun that you don't miss the Venoms who aren't present.
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9/10
My First Ever Shaw Brothers Viewing.
morrison-dylan-fan7 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Despite hearing QT praise them for years and fellow IMDbers talk about the studio on the message boards (RIP),I for some reason have never had the chance to see a Shaw Brothers production. While taking part in a poll on ICM for the best movies of 1981,I found out that Netflix UK were about to remove a 1981 Shaw title!,which led to me finally meeting the Shaw Brothers.

The plot:

Drinking the blood of their victims,a gang of mask wearing killers go into a village in the countryside and raid the place. Horrified by how ruthless the gang has gotten, Kao Yao decides to leave the gang,and soon sets his sights on destroying it. Gathering a group of fellow Kung-Fu fighters,Yao starts preparing to destroy his former gang,but soon discovers that one of his fellow warriors is secretly wearing a mask.

View on the film:

Working on "standing sets" co-writer/(with Kuang Ni) director Cheh Chang & cinematographer Hui-Chi Tsao run the film with an infectious energy of lightning fast whip-pans and shimmering green,gold and candle wax blood giving title a rich pulp atmosphere. Leaping into the fight scenes,Chang strikes a stylised balance of crossing side shots that keep a distance which allows the viewer to fully see each Kung- Fu move,with unique elements that have Kao Yao jump sky high,and leave the tridents spinning in mid-air for the next victim.

Sending them out into the village to unleash maximum damage,the screenplay by Chang and Ni give the movie an air of mystery,as the masks bring doubts into the warriors of their being a double agent,and the covering of faces also building anticipation to the final unmasking. Plate-spinning each member of the killers and the warriors,the writers wonderfully dig into the unease of there being a secret gang member in Yao's ranks,as the first avengers attack.
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10/10
Moves and countermoves...
poe42618 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
THE MASKED AVENGERS begins with an ambush and murder by the (quite literally) bloodthirsty, trident-wielding masked avengers themselves. When two martial arts clubs meet to discuss things, a suspicious eavesdropper, Gao Yao (Kuo Chui), working at the inn where they meet, draws attention to himself. Kuo Chui was sometimes ambiguous enough in his leanings to make him perfect as a "suspicious character" whose motivations weren't quite clear to audiences and this aspect of his character works to perfection here. Bodies begin to pile up, and the discovery of both a mask and a trident in Chui's possession make him a prime suspect. Will Chui come clean? Will Chiang Seng as the leader of one of the two groups live long enough to reveal who's who? THE MASKED AVENGERS is yet another Chang Cheh classic and just one of the reasons I now consider the Golden Age of Martial Arts movies the 20 year span from 1970 to 1990.
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