Friday, April 2, 2010

I love The Five Deadly Venoms

I love The Five Deadly Venoms.

I love its spooky opening, with venomous kung fu masters in wrestling masks. It may not be as action-heavy as kung fu movie fans may want it to be; still, I love how another previously unnoticed element from its clever, suspenseful story catches my eye upon each successive viewing. What The Five Venoms lacks in quanity of action, it makes up for in quality and explosive timing.

I love The Five Deadly Venoms.

I love the way it has found its place in popular culture, especially through the music of the Wu-Tang Clan. I love how dubbed English-language soundbytes from the beginning of the movie kick off The W album of the Clan. I love how RZA has used samples from the movie to create bangers like "Snakes" and "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'".

On a more personal note, I love how The Five Deadly Venoms has deeply influenced my most recent work.

Except for the post-fight pieces "Worldly Shaolin Warriors" and "The Thousand Arrows of Manny Pacquiao", my body of work with regards to last month's Pacquiao-Clottey and UFC 111 draws heavily from this kung fu classic:

1. Pick Your Poison: UFC 111

2. Pick Your Poison: Pacquiao-Clottey

3. The Poison Clan Reborn in UFC 111

4. The Poison Clan Reborn in Pacquiao-Clottey

Thank you Chang Cheh. Thank you Venom Mob. Thank you Johnny Wang. Thank you RZA. Thanks to you...

I love The Five Deadly Venoms.


  1. It's unbelievable how hardcore Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is. I didn't get to listen to the album until 1996 or so, but if I was going crazy over this three years after its initial release, I can only imagine people's reaction to "Protect Ya Neck" in 1992 or the album in 1993.

    It was probably like the scene in Indy after Butler made the national title game!

    The early Wu-Tang sound was sort of minimalistic, but there was something else about RZA's production that set it apart from say, the production in Paid in Full or the early BDP albums. I feel it, but I still can't put a finger on what exactly it is.

    Maybe it's the kung fu soundbytes that set the tone for the hard-hitting beats that followed, but to me, Wu-Tang wasn't just music, it was an attitude.

    And this battle spirit was evident in songs like "Protect Ya Neck", "Da Mystery of Chessboxin'" and "Bring da Ruckus", just to name a few.

    Even with all the great hip hop being released circa 1993-95, Wu-Tang was something else entirely.

    This, I believe, is the ultimate reason that people like myself have fond memories of the Wu-Tang Clan.

  2. But who is your favourite rapper? I'd have to say without any hesitation GZA, but closely followed by Raekwon. Ghostface would be third, but by quite some distance...
    Something like:

    3. Ghostface

  3. My favorite rapper from the Clan is also the GZA. Everything about him is deep. His lyricism, his voice, his wisdom - everything.

    However, my favorite Wu member is RZA. He's the man who set the tone for the Wu with his production and vision. Although what he said on the mic didn't always make sense to me, the way he flowed as an emcee caught my ear.

    To me, the way RZA made Wu-Tang blow up without compromising their sound is pure genius.

    The Wu has so many great albums out, but if I had to pick a favorite, I'm going with Liquid Swords.

    In my opinion, Liquid Swords and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx represent the absolute peak of Wu-Tang's powers, with masterful thematics, lyricism and production. The sound is neither too sparse, nor too polished.

  4. While GZA is probably the best in the group overall, my personal favorite is definitely Ghostface, because I think that everything about him and his style embodies the clan.

    GZA is certainly more polished, perhaps even more skilled, but that's the think about Ghost, he's straight off the street and you can feel it with every single syllable that comes out of his mouth. This is a guy who wrote some of his best lyrics on cocktail napkins minutes before spitting them into the mic in recording sessions. That's the spirt of Wu-Tang right there.

    On top of that, Supreme Clientele has to be my favorite Wu-Tang related album. If the dirty, grimy minimalism of the Clan is your thing, give that a listen and you won't be sorry.

    And that's really the word, I'm realizing as I type: Grimy. Ghostface is grimy as hell, and that's what the Clan's all about.

  5. Henry,

    I'm glad you brought up Supreme Clientele. If Ironman is a classic, Supreme Clientele is a masterpiece.

    In spite (or because) of RZA's a much more hands off approach to the album, Ghost truly shined on his second album.

    Ghost and his production crew did a great job of utilizing the soundbytes from the old Iron Man cartoons to set the tone : If Ironman introduced us to Ghost as a solo artist, Supreme Clientele fully fleshed out the Tony Starks/Ironman alter ego for us all.

    As grimy as Supreme Clientele is, I think it carries a polished sound that happens to be very hard-hitting. It's a triumphant return to the Wu's cinematic roots of Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and Liquid Swords.

    If Rae and GZA's solo debuts were about the Wu-Gambino and swordsman themes, respectively, then Ghost's second was about the superhero metaphors.

    Ironman was awesome and Wu-Tang Forever underrated, but compared to earlier Wu-Tang works, they sort of lacked an edge in the sound. Listening to them, it was almost as if beatmaking became too easy for the RZA and flowing over those beats too easy for the Clan's emcees.

    In the end, I think Supreme Clientele was the result of getting the solo debut butterflies out of his stomach with Ironman and the RZA tweaking his approach to handling the Wu-Tang sound - with fans like us getting another masterpiece for our collections.


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