Anyone who has even the slightest knowledge of Hong Kong cinema knows by now that Drunken Master is a milestone in the history of film. In my country martial art movies were considered bad taste and Drunken Master was never even released here in those days (and perhaps it never has been). Had it not been for a friend who had relatives in Hong Kong I would never have got this vhs (or Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow) in the first place. But thankfully I did.
Jackie Chan, who had already become famous in Hong Kong after his previous movie Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, plays Wong Fei Hung – a rascal who is brilliant at kung fu but a bit too cocky for his own good. He is constantly involved in fights and arguments, and eventually his father gets tired of it all and sends Fei Hung away to train for “Beggar So” So Chan, a master who is infamous for crippling his students.
Fei Hung runs away, but gets into even more trouble when he has an encounter with Yan Ti San (Hwang Jan Lee). Yan Ti San – or Thunderfoot as he is sometimes referred to – is a far too powerful opponent for young Fei Hung, and in the end he finds himself not only beaten senseless but also humiliated and disgraced as he is forced to crawl off between Thunderfoot’s legs as a stray dog.
Fei Hung decides to return to Beggar So and complete the torturous training program. And in the end he realises that the old man has something very special in store for him. Fei Hung learns to imitate the kung fu style of the eight drunken immortals. Once again confronted with the enemy that humiliated him he needs to use all his drunken skills to win the fight…
Drunken Master is one of the greatest martial art films ever made and watching it today you can actually see it’s history in the making. Jackie Chan’s charismatic persona fills up the screen and literally changes the whole concept of Hong Kong cinema – and sets the standard for all the martial art movies to come. Jackie’s never before seen mix of comedy is do tie for, and his fantastic acrobatic skills are beyond comparison.
The drunken boxing scenes are outstanding, and really created something new and exciting. Absolutely irresistable. Hi’s imitation of the female immortal miss Ho is priceless. So fun – and so cool! Drunken Master is a movie classic that shouldn’t be missed by anyone.
But no matter how great this movie is it’s actually surpassed by the sequel, Drunken Master II, that Jackie made in 1994. At the age of 40 Jackie returns to the martial art flick and makes the greatest masterpiece of them all – stronger, faster and cooler than never before!
So why not watch them chronologically, just to see how Jackie shines even brighter 16 years after he first became an immortal star by using drunken boxing.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You gotta love Jackie Chan!
- Legendary Fight Choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award at Fantastic Fest (cinematical.com)