Issue #242a       HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES          December 13th, 2004

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Crippled Avengers
(1978; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Chaan kuet
Mandarin: Can que
English: Incomplete
Alternate English Title: Mortal Combat, Return of the 5 Deadly Venoms


RATING: 8/10


This is a superior Chang Cheh kung fu thriller with a terrific gimmick: four fighters, who are crippled in different ways, must use their imagination and remaining skills to overcome their disability and get revenge on the man who ordered their mutilation. When the Three Tiannan Tigers (including Dick Wei and Jamie Luk Kim-ming) cut off his wife's legs and his son's arms, "Black Tiger" Dao Tian-du (Chen Kuan-tai) avenges them by slaughtering the culprits. A decade later, Tu's son, Dao Chang (Lu Feng), has perfected the use of metal hands (the fingers serve as deadly darts and the hands can also extend out a foot in front of him) to replace his own, allowing him to become a formidable martial artist. Capturing the now-adult sons of the Tigers, Dao has his son cripple each of them. Driven mad by his years of grief, the elder Dao takes his anger out on those he feels have offended him, disabling them also. Four such men, Chen (blind), Wei (deaf and mute), Kuei (legless), and Wang (brain-damaged), receive special instruction from the latter's master. Kuei (Sun Chien) is given iron legs, while Chen (Phillip Kwok Tsui) and Wei (Lo Mang) are taught to make optimum use of their other senses. Wang (Chiang Sheng) is already a kung fu master and the others tolerate his childish behavior in deference to the loss he suffered on their behalf. He is, however, a definite asset to the team, when he sets his mind to helping out. After three years of intense preparation, the men are ready to attack Dao and his legions, but the psychopath has prepared a special line of defence that may prove unbeatable.

Phillip Kwok (left), Lo Mang Lu Feng Chen Kuan-tai (left), Johnny Wang

As you would expect with this premise, the training sequences in this Chang Cheh effort are among the most unique in the genre and are made even more fascinating by superb choreography and the exceptional abilities of Chang's "Venoms" team (as they are known to their Western fans). While a tad drawn out, this is still a first-rate production, which even inspired a low-budget knockoff called CRIPPLED MASTERS (reviewed in issue #165). Going Chang's film one step "better," it stars two men with real disabilities (who also appeared together in another picture, TWO CRIPPLED HEROES), but cannot hold a candle to its model. Sun Chien’s iron substitutes were obviously the inspiration for the South Korean production CHAMP AGAINST CHAMP, in which Dragon Lee’s character takes similar measures after losing one of his legs. Johnny Wang Lung-wei also appears.

L to R: Sun Chien, Lo Mang, Phillip Kwok Chiang Sheng Lo Mang (right)


Another very nice restoration from Celestial: crisp, clean, and colorful throughout. There is also no significant tampering with the original audio, save for some minor foley additions (birdsong, indistinct chatter, etc). Another welcome aspect is the inclusion of the original HK theatrical trailer, in addition to the regular promos spots, bios/filmographies, and photo gallery section. The English subtitles are a bit awkward (particularly in their use of "fuzz" instead of "fuss"), but fairly good.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 3 Only
  • Intercontinental Video Ltd. #103452
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Post-synced Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 100 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Germany: 18 (cut)
  • Ontario: R
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG
  • United States: R
  • Contains brutal violence


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful