Reviewed by: cal42
Summary: Animal violence spoils otherwise fun movie.
A band of masked bandits are causing trouble until a small group of heroes decide to stop them for reasons that seem to have passed me by.
Reviewer Score: 7
I realised quite early on in this film a startling fact Ive seen more films by this director than any other. Forty-four films, to be exact. By now, Im very familiar with his style and have drawn a couple of conclusions. One: by the late 70s, he really didnt give a rats backside about plot, consistency or plausibility. Two: Chang Cheh seems really uncomfortable with women.
It isnt really necessary for the viewer to be aware of these facts, and it will certainly not affect the viewing experience, but its a shame that the carefully plotted historical epic went out of the window so completely, and a little odd that his world consists entirely of men. Sure, there are a couple of little girls, but as soon as they hit puberty they seem to disappear out of existence. An adult woman does appear in this film and hogs the screen for about 7 seconds - she does a little swoony, fainty dance, opens her mouth to deliver a line of dialogue and is promptly killed before speaking. There is no explanation of why shes there (other than being a sister of one of the characters) or why she acts in such a peculiar manner. Unlike most, I dont take Chang Chehs evident discomfort of the feminine form as proof of his homosexuality just the opposite, in fact. However, it is quite hard not to notice certain tendencies in his films that can be construed as homoerotic, and Masked Avengers has more than its fair share of these tendencies, with bare-chested, muscle-bound men in nearly every frame.
Speaking of MASKED AVENGERS, I think its probably about time I got around to reviewing it, rather than musing on whether or not Chang Cheh was gay. My expectations were high same director as CRIPPLED AVENGERS, some of the same Venom cast return (sadly, Sun Chien and Lo Meng, my favourite Venoms, do not appear) and the word Avengers in the title. Sounds like a sure-fire hit.
Its evident early on that this is not quite as good as earlier Venom movies. The plot really is non-existent and it doesnt have the kooky charm of CRIPPLED AVENGERS. Worse still, theres a pretty despicable and gratuitous case of animal cruelty near the start that nearly made me switch off. Oh, and the title is somewhat misleading the Avengers are actually unmasked, its the bandits who wear them.
However, animal snuff and minor gripes aside, MASKED AVENGERS has its moments of greatness. It suffers from the exact same problem as the earlier Venom movie DAREDEVILS in that it tries to add intrigue where its not wanted or needed, but at least it does not try to be too many things a major downfall of the latter film. This time, its Phillip Kwok who takes centre stage as the cook-with-a-dark-past Gao Yao, and hes the only character who has more than one dimension. Actually, his story, when he eventually tells it, is quite interesting.
And naturally, the action scenes are outstanding. The bad guys use tridents, which is pretty original. I dont usually find weapon-work as interesting as unarmed combat, but I have to admit that the displays here are quite exciting. I wont go and spoil the surprise by revealing who the culprit(s) are, but the showdown is well worth watching and recalls Changs glory days. Its also apparent that some money went into the set design, although its possible that they were re-using some sets from earlier films.
So while theres much to be indifferent or appalled about in MASKED AVENGERS, it cant be ignored that its a pretty impressive action movie. If only there had been some thought given to the plot and characters, it might very well have become a genre classic. My favourite part, though, was when on of our heroes gets slain after buying a glove puppet for a little girl after she fell over on the street (a complete sequence of events that takes as much time to transpire as it takes to read that sentence!). He is killed by a Masked Avenger and the camera zooms in on the forlorn glove puppet on his hand to show the inhumanity of the bandits, which I thought was really funny. It loses something in the telling though, so go and see it for yourself.
Reviewed by: kurama_tengu
Summary: Good Weapons...Only 3/5 Venoms
In my review for "The Five Venoms", I warned prospective buyers of Ground Zero movies to be careful when buying their Venom movies. Well, "Masked Avengers" only stars 3 of the 5 Venoms(Kuo Chui, Lu Feng, and Chang Shieng), but is a pretty good movie.
Reviewer Score: 7
Basically, the storyline surrounds a group of fighters looking to eliminate a band of trident-armed bandits who where masks while causing havoc. Not exactly a strong storyline, but it doesn't detract from the overall movie. Kuo Chui stars as one of the masked bandits who jumps ship and helps the group of fighters. Chang Sheng for once gets a bigger role as the leader of the fighters. The two fighters who take the place of Lo Meng and Sun Chien in this movie aren't bad fighters, but lack that "star" look the other Venoms have. They are probably best used in minor rolls instead of being the showcased villains.
The highlight of the battles are the good use of weapons. Besides the tridents, there are some innovative weapons used in this movie.
For only 3 Venoms present, this is not a bad movie to catch. The price is reasonable also, as I believe I paid around $10 US for the VHS tape. Not a must-see, but not a terrible choice either. [7/10]