Just as Evil
Dead 2 can be called both a sequel and a remake of the
earlier Sam Raimi flick The Evil Dead, so too can
Drunken Master be viewed as a "re-imagining"
of its unofficial predecessor, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow,
a film released only months before with practically the
same cast, crew, and storyline. But make no mistake: Drunken
Master isn't some quickie rehash. Instead, the film
takes the best elements from Snake to craft not just
an excellent kung fu comedy, but a landmark film in the
Jackie Chan canon.
Drunken Master is yet another
story about kung fu hero Wong Fei-Hong (Jackie Chan), but
instead of depicting the legendary sifu as a mature,
stately, and stoic figure (as Jet Li would later do in the
Once Upon a Time in China series), Jackie Chan takes
an altogether different route. No, as evidenced by the nickname
"Naughty Panther," Drunken Master's Wong
Fei-Hong is a fun-loving teenage jokester who consistently
ends up in trouble, much to the dismay of his respected
father Wong Kei-Ying.
Utterly incorrigible, Young Fei-Hong
is eventually sent away by his father to be trained by Beggar
So (Simon Yuen), a geriatric alcoholic who just happens
to be a badass master of the martial arts. From the beginning,
Fei-Hong is resistant to So's training, feeling it to be
nothing more than punishment. A fair assumption, considering
that So has a reputation for crippling his students!
One day, Fei-Hong tricks his
master and breaks free, only to cross paths with the formidable
assassin Yan (played by Korean leg-fighter Hwang Jang Lee).
The brash Wong challenges the hired killer and pretty much
gets his ass handed to him. Humiliated, Fei-Hong returns
to complete his training and learns the 8 Drunken Immortals
style kung fu (his imitation of the female Immortal Miss
Ho is particularly priceless). In the meantime, comedy hijinks
ensue as Fei-Hong continues to play tricks on his hapless
master, even at one point substituting the old man's precious
wine with water! The prank backfires when Beggar So is attacked
and forced to use drunken boxing sans the required alcohol!
Beggar So eventually abandons
Wong once he's taught him everything he needs to know. Then,
in a convenient (and inevitable) plot twist, the assassin
Yan is hired to kill Wong Kei-Ying, giving Fei-Hong the
opportunity to make good on his long-held revenge fantasies.
This raises the latest of many questions which all must
be answered by film's end. Will the elder Wong survive?
Will Beggar So return to help his pupil? And most important,
will Fei-Hong defeat the dastardly Yan and emerge as the
new Drunken Master?
There's a sequel, so umm…yeah.
(Calvin McMillin 2002)