A precursor to the five venom films. The crew is already intact here, only it doesn't quite feel like a five venoms film yet. It's a bit of an atypical Cheh Chang film I guess, though knowing this is a Shaw Bros production, a statement like that has to be taken with a grain of salt. The Shaw Bros signature is very present, it's just a couple of minor details that set this film apart.
Five elite fighters band together and decide to rebel against their Manchu oppressors, whose reign has taken a severe toll on the Ming people. Each of the five warriors sets out to recruit some strong fighters, hoping to train them into well-oiled fighting machines, so they can take on the Manchu leaders with a small army of their own.
The martial arts scenes aren't quite as good here, but the training scenes are pretty cool, and it's fun to see such a broad cast of varied individuals wage a miniature war. It's a welcome diversion in an oeuvre defined by similarities, though the impact remains quite limited. Ultimately, this is just another Shaw Bros/Cheh Chang collab.