Wong Fei-Hung (Jackie Chan) is a mischievous, yet righteous young man, but after a series of incidents, his frustrated father has him disciplined by Beggar So (Siu-Tin Yuen), a Master of dru... Read allWong Fei-Hung (Jackie Chan) is a mischievous, yet righteous young man, but after a series of incidents, his frustrated father has him disciplined by Beggar So (Siu-Tin Yuen), a Master of drunken martial arts.Wong Fei-Hung (Jackie Chan) is a mischievous, yet righteous young man, but after a series of incidents, his frustrated father has him disciplined by Beggar So (Siu-Tin Yuen), a Master of drunken martial arts.
I haven't seen most of those 200 movies, except for the Drunken Master movies, Jet Li's 'Once Upon a Time in China' series, and 'Iron Monkey'. The 'Once Upon a Time in China' movies and 'Iron Monkey' may be somewhat over-the-top wu xia movies, but they portray Wong Fei Hung as a serious hero. 'Drunken Master' features a very different take on the character.
Jackie Chan's Wong Fei Hung is a rebellious trouble-maker. His father, Wong Kei Ying, has given up on disciplining him, and sends him to his uncle, So Hai, the master of drunken boxing, hoping that a year of training with So Hai will sort Fei Hung out. Fei doesn't seem to learn his lesson until a chance encounter with Thunderfoot (Hwang Jang Lee)...
Story-wise, it is a bit of a standard kung-fu plot. However, in a documentary on Jackie Chan (I can't remember the name, I know that as of this review, it isn't listed on IMDb, but it was shown on SBS in 2003), 'Drunken Master' was mentioned as his breakthrough hit that nearly killed his career: Apparently Chinese viewers were insulted by Jackie's portrayal of Wong Fei Hung and nearly boycotted him when he was just gaining fame as an actor.
Onto more important matters. Like kung-fu. 'Drunken Master' is one of the kung-fu classics. Boosted by the presence of martial-arts star Hwang Jang Lee, this pretty much made or solidified the careers of Jackie Chan and Yuen Woo Ping (in his directorial debut). 'Drunken Master' features some very well choreographed fights and training scenes. 'Drunken Master' is very funny too, and is one of two movies I know where a young main-character gets beaten by an older middle-aged lady (which is always funny, more movies need a scene like this) - the other movie is Battlefield Baseball.
As a matter of interest for Jackie Chan fans: 'Drunken Master' signaled the end of Jackie Chan's work with director Wei Lo. Yay. In fact, the Columbia Tristar DVD release of 'Drunken Master' includes audio commentary by experts on Hong Kong cinema. I will check that out sometime, but it sounds like it would appeal to fans of kung-fu movies. Some more trivia - the latest release doesn't have the complete Cantonese sound track, and so the English dub is used where the Cantonese track is incomplete.
'Drunken Master' features awesome kung-fu scenes, and has some interesting historical perspectives. Ah, kung-fu movies and history, some of my favourite hobbies together at last - 10/10, a must see for any fans of Jackie Chan or kung-fu movies, 'Drunken Master' is kung-fu perfection.
- Jan 6, 2005