25 Oct 2011

DRUNKEN MASTER

By David Lee Andrews   Posted at  12:30   YUEN WOO-PING

Drunken Master Cover Have you ever been drunk before? And I mean really-really drunk! So drunk in fact, that you could not even lift your head up and slur out some stupidness? Also, whilst you were in this state, did you try to then perform martial arts as well? No? Me neither. Unlike Director: Yuen Woo-Ping; and Actor: Jackie Chan. But only in 1979, and for about 110 minutes.


Drunken Master


THE STORY:
Now imagine you're the father of mischievous little git called Wong-Fei Hung (Jackie Chan), and you've just heard that your son has pissed off most of the people in town.


You know. Like his teacher for instance. Most of the girls on the street. Plus your very own sister too.

So what are going you do about it, huh? Get Wong to beat up someone else he's annoyed previously? It might work. Or better yet, why don't you force him to train with that mad bearded dwarf called Beggar So (Siu Tien Yuen) instead?

Alright. I know that Wong might try to escape when you inform him about this new development. But don't you fret, pal. I'm sure Beggar will catch up to him after he gets into even more trouble at a restaurant during his getaway. Furthermore, once he starts to teach Wong some new fangled martial arts techniques, I'm also sure he'll kick him, whip him, and beat him into physical perfection before he can star in 'Rush Hour 2'.

Still, that's most probably why what next transpires all kicks off when Wong tells So to suck his Wok! As a mischievous little git shouldn't have run - a bad guy is as bad as Attila the Hun - who wants a drink and then fight - and oh my God, this film isn't sh*te!!!!!!

Groovy.




THE REVIEW:
Without a shadow of a doubt, 'Drunken Master' is one of those film’s which makes me smile everytime I sit down and watch it. To me, it has a rustic late-seventies badly-dubbed vibe about it, plus a congenial charm and zaniness that exhumes a somewhat fresh take compared to the more modern slick kung-fu films.

Now if you don't like long fight scenes, don’t watch this film. If you don't like slapstick comedy, don’t watch this film. And if you don't like seeing oriental drunken people beating the living s**t out of  each other, well... you know what I'm going to say.


Jackie Chan in Drunken Master


You see, in contemporary terms, 'Drunken Master' is like a reality TV dancing show, where the contestants have to beat each other up and appear oriental. Seriously, the movements to some of these fight scenes really tells a tale, as if each action and reaction is like a foxtrot or a waltz.

Eight Drunken Fairies
However, whilst saying that, I just wished that the writers could have added more thought to the plotline than they did for the fighting.

Fair enough, the start is generally OK. In the first twenty minutes or so, you know what the basic premise is. Plus the next large section isn't bad either. You can really sense the pain poor Jackie must have had to go through during these training scenes. It is just that the end of the film feels a bit rushed ‘plot wise’. The fight is fine. Sure. A little bit long. But really good nonetheless.

Also, something else you have to take into consideration whilst watching this film, that it is an actual satire. Admittedly, I know that it does not look like a satire. But Wong-Fei Hung is a very well respected hero in Hong Kong Cinema, and is almost an Abraham Lincoln type figure of a man. 

Wong was the first frugal Hong-Kong hero captured on screen, and inspired the likes of Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and Jet Li, to venture into their eventual field. Moreover, Wong was a character in the same vein as James Bond, having a continuing franchise of films (over 100 at last count), inspiring the Tsui Hark classic 'Once Upon a time in China' series.


Begga So Art in Drunken Master


Jackie Chan Drunken Master
Hey. I tell you what. While I'm in the mood for some trivia, take a look at some of these filmic facts. (1) 'Seasonal Film Corporation' released this Hong Kong classic on the 5th of October, 1978, which was the same day that the author, Isaac Bashevis Singer, won the Nobel Prize for literature. (2) Most of the tortuous fighting technique's Jackie's character endured throughout this film; were based on some of his training whilst at the Peking Opera School. (3) Jackie Chan almost severely damaged his eye when he was kicked in the head during the final fight scene against his opponent, Hwang Jig Lee. (4) Not only was the actor who played Beggar So, Siu Tien Yuen, sixty-six when he made this movie, but in some of this action scenes, he was doubled by his two sons, Cheung-Yan Yuen and Woo-ping Yuen. On a side note, Woo was the director of this movie too. (5) Even though it doesn't seem like it, the 'Eight Drunken Fairies' martial arts style is actual a real fighting technique. No kidding. (6) Jackie made the sequel to this film sixteen years after this movie was made. It was in 1994, and it was called 'Legend of The Drunken Master'. (7) Hwang Jig Lee is a master at Taekwondo, and taught Korean troupes how to fight during the war.  (8) This action-adventure has also been called 'Drunken Monkey in the Tiger's Eyes', and loosely translated, it's been called 'Shining' in Swedish, and 'Challenge' in India.

Overall 'Drunken Master' is a great film in my eyes. Granted, it isn't the most highly developed piece I've ever seen. Yet, what it is, is a classic that I'm bound to see again and again and again. Right Jackie?




Ha! Nuff said.

THE RATING: A-

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