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Film / Killers Five

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Pictured: Killer#1 Ma Jin-ling (Li Ching) and Killer#2 Yue Zhenbei (Tang Chia). Out of Five.

Killers Five is a 1969 Shaw Brothers Wuxia Martial Arts Movie starring Li Ching (the "Deadly Doll" of Shaw Brothers, the nickname unofficially given by the Studios), Tang Ching, and Ku Feng.

True to it's title, the movie revolves around a band of five warriors and swordsmen-for-hire, led by veteran assassin Yue Zhenbei, whose members consist of Yue's on-off girlfriend Ma Jin-ling (Li Ching), smugglers Li Xiaoqi and Ngau, and master thief Liang Shengfei, who was recruited by Duke Cao Guo-Wei on a rescue mission, when the Duke's daughter, Lady Chao, was kidnapped by a powerful bandit lord and imprisoned in Mount Jin-long, a stronghold swarming with bandits and criminal scum. But as the five of them battle their way through hordes and hordes of villains, they realize their mission has been compromised...

Killers Five contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Ma Jin-ling, played by Shaw Brothers' "Deadly Doll" Li Ching. Unlike Li Ching's other roles like in Have Sword, Will Travel and The Anonymous Heroes where she plays second fiddle as a supporting player to the (mostly male) protagonists, here she managed to fend herself well enough against hordes and hordes of mooks, takes plenty of names (even more so than her earlier parts), can hold her own against Elite Mooks note , and even killing the powerful Bandit Lord Jin Tiao-ling which is The Dreaded.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Yue Zhenbei and Ma Jin-ling in the final mansion battle, against Duke Cao's soldiers.
  • Badass Crew: The titular five killers, a legion of the best warriors of the martial arts world being sent on a covert rescue mission.
  • Blade on a Stick: In the final battle, a few of Duke Cao's higher-ranked sergeants use halberds in combat.
  • Booby Trap: The bandit hideout in Mount Jinlong is filled with these, including pit falls, spiked ceilings, and collapsing caverns.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Bandit Lord Jin Tiao-ling is hyped up as a massive threat for the heroes, and is stated numerous times to be invincible, indestructible, a very, very dangerous opponent... and after Ma stabs him through the eye the movie continues for another twenty minutes when Duke Cao, the employer and benefactor of the five, turns out to be the real villain of the picture.
  • Elite Mook: In the final battle, Duke Cao has a group of six expert warriors wearing winged helmets, armed with unique weapons (either halberds, chains, or iron staffs) and gives both Yue Zhenbei and Ma Jin-ling one hell of a fight. Even battling the experts one-on-one, it still takes plenty of effort before they're eventually defeated.
  • Ensemble Cast: Five of Shaw Brothers' leading stars as the titular five.
  • Eye Scream: The bandit leader, Jin Tiao-ling, was subdued when Ma throws her hairpin into his left eye. And for her Coup de Grāce, she then throws her sword through his right.
  • False Reassurance: When consulting his "lucky dice" to determine the outcome of the mission, Li Xiao-qi was horrified to see the numbers of the roll to be 2,1,2 (a small odd number, meaning an unlucky outcome). Before the others can see his roll, he quickly nudges the table, turning the dice numbers to 5,6,5 (a large even number, meaning a lucky outcome) and tells everyone the gods of fortune has blessed their mission. This comes back and bites him in the ass when he is the first of the five to die, betrayed and killed by his employer.
  • Fake Defector: Liang Shang-fei appears to be the Sixth Ranger Traitor, building himself reputation from within the ranks of Jin Tiao-ling the Bandit Lord, but reveals his true allegiances when he kills two bandit mooks and saves Ma from a spiked trap.
  • Friend to All Children: Li Xiao-qi, despite being a gambler and killer, is fond of kids, mostly inviting children to guess the outcomes of his dice rolls while chilling leisurely in a tavern.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Liang Shengfei, despite being shady and ambiguous throughout the movie, ultimately proves himself to be on the side of good when he takes a spear through the gut meant for Ma Jin-ling, thereby dying as one of the good guys.
  • Hidden Villain: Duke Cao is actually an Imperial traitor who is using the rescue mission as a diversion while he plots to overthrow the Imperial government.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Plenty of red sauce flows freely throughout the fight scenes, especially in one scene where Ngau whacks his axes through a fallen mook, causing an entire geyser of karo syrup into the air.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Ma Jin-ling, when it comes to throwing darts. It's hard to hit someone's eye with a thrown hairpin from more than ten meters, but she managed.
  • In a Single Bound: Demonstrated by most of the five, with Yue Zhenbei and Ma Jin-ling doing somersaults and back-flips throughout their fights.
  • Ironic Echo: Li Xiao-qi, due to being a gambler, constantly boasts that the gods of fortune is on his side. Guess which one of the five is first to die.
  • Parting-from-Consciousness Words: From Li Xiao-qi.
    Li Xiao-qi: " Duke Cao... he's behind all this... the mission... you can still make it..." (dead)
  • Sacrificial Lion: Li Xiao-qi ends up getting ambushed and mortally wounded by Duke Cao's soldiers, surviving just long enough to unite with Yue Zhenbei and Ma Jin-ling, telling them the truth about how their whole rescue mission was rigged and to keep on going without him.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Inverted; Liang reveals himself to be working for Jin Tiao-ling the bandit leader, but turns out to be using this as an excuse to infiltrate the bandits' ranks and exploit Jin's weakness.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: Does impaling one's eye with a sword, all the way through to the other side, counts?
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Besides using this trick to kill Bandit Lord Jin Tiao-ling, Ma Jin-ling also throws her sword through an Elite Mook in the finale.
  • Waterfall Shower: Ma Jin-ling in her first scene.
  • Wire Fu: This is a Wuxia after all...