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Drunken Master (1978) Review



Drunken Master still stands up as one of the all-time great kung fu movies and is a must own for any fan of the genre.

Plot: Unable to see eye to eye with his father, completely broke and with nowhere else to turn, young Wong Fei-Hung (Jackie Chan) grudgingly accepts the tutelage of Su Hua Chi (Siu Tien Yuen), a notoriously intoxicated martial arts master. Su Hua Chi teaches Wong the techniques of Drunken Boxing, an unusually fluid fighting style. Wong is then forced to put his new skills to the test when his father is targeted by deadly assassin Thunderleg (Jang Lee Hwang), who has never lost a fight.

Review: I used to watch Drunken Master all the time as a kid but hadn’t watched it for a few years; so while being mildly hangover on Saturday morning, that seemed like the perfect time to revisit this classic martial arts flick. Does it still stand the test of time? For the most part, very much so.

Jackie Chan is at the top if his game in this movie and performs moves that will hurt your back just watching him. The choreography and fights are incredible but that’s no surprise considering the director is Master Yuen Woo Ping. The movie wastes little time in getting going and has a fight scene every few minutes so there is no boring love story to slow the action down.

What’s interesting is Wong Fei-Hung (Chan) is actually a bit of a dick in this movie; he’s really arrogant and needs to be brought down a peg or two; this eventually happens when he meets the assassin Thunderleg (Jang Lee Hwang) who beats him up and totally humiliates him. Thunderleg also has one of the best pornstar moustaches of all time which must be congratulated.

Su Hua Chi (Siu Tien Yuen) is one of the all-time great martial arts movie mentors; rather than being overly harsh, he’s actually quite humorous but also a little pathetic because of his reliance on alcohol. He’s incredibly likeable and sympathetic rather than somewhat sadistic the way many mentors are portrayed in kung fu movies.

It does go a little overboard with the slapstick humour at times but that’s why I love the movie so much; it never forgets to be fun and and despite Wong Fei-Hung coming across quite arrogant, Chan’s easy charm is hard to resist.

Overall, Drunken Master still stands up as one of the all-time great kung fu movies and is a must own for any fan of the genre.