Anthony's Film Review
Drunken Master (1978)
Jackie Chan adds a touch of funny slapstick to his brand of swift martial arts...
Jackie Chan is not just best known for being a martial arts superstar. He is also known for combining it with hilarious physical comedy and death-defying stunts that he does all by himself. Of course, you see that in the second half of his career. Earlier, he had starred in some typical martial arts films. If you compare an early Jackie Chan movie with a more recent one, you will notice plenty of differences. There is one film, however, that probably marks the beginning of a transition from the old Jackie Chan to the new Jackie Chan.
That film is Drunken Master. It takes a basic kung fu movie and adds a dose of humor and slapstick. In Chan's first scene, he is a student in a martial arts school who mischievously pokes fun at his teacher. This results in a rather amusing fight sequence. Next, Chan meets a young girl but offends her mother. Chan and the mother get involved in a fight. Then there is a fight in a marketplace. In the beginning of the movie, any resemblance to a plot is only an excuse for these silly sets of punches, kicks, blocks, jumps, and whatever maneuvers they can do for us.
Because of all the trouble that Chan causes, he is to receive a punishment. What begins as a private family discussion becomes a feud when another family accuses Chan of beating up their son. Oh, by the way, another fight scene ensues here. Once that's over, Chan is told that he will be disciplined and trained by Su Hua Chi, known to be a sadistic master. He meets this master by chance. Not surprisingly, after a fight scene.
Su Hua Chi does turn out to be brutal, but he's not cold or hateful. In fact, he seems to be a pleasantly playful old man who laughs as he forces Chan to undergo some excruciating exercises. There's plenty of humor as Chan attempts to cheat through or escape from his torture. As time goes on, it is revealed that Su Hua Chi is a drunken master who cannot fight without his regular dose of wine. Chan eventually learns the master's secret style of drunken kung fu, which will soon help him against a powerful enemy.
As a Jackie Chan movie, it's a notable entry in his work. It's also a good martial arts film in general. For me, every fight scene was a real visual spectacle, and almost every joke generated a giggle or laugh from me. The best part was perhaps the opportunity to see Jackie Chan evolve over the years. To truly admire what he's done on film, you can't just stick with his later films. You have to go back in time to see his growth from the beginning. If you do so, then definitely make sure you watch Drunken Master.
For more information about Drunken Master, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my review of Drunken Master II.