Drunken Master

dir. Yuen Woo-ping

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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Jackie Chan first hit his stride playing with this kung-fu comedy classic, in which a wild young Wong Fei-hung must undergo a painful education in the art of drunken boxing from his boozy and brutalizing uncle.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, the dubbed version of Drunken Master will be screened instead of the subtitled version. We apologize for any inconvenience.

ARCHIVAL PRINT!

Following a tepid attempt to sell him as yet another po-faced successor to the irreplaceable Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan was finally allowed to hit his stride when he displayed his comedy chops alongside his eye-popping fighting skills in Drunken Master. Taking on the mantle of venerated kung-fu folk hero Wong Fei-hung — a role first immortalized by Kwan Tak-hing in 1949's The Whip That Smacks the Candle and remade for a new generation by Jet Li in Once Upon a Time in China — Chan blows a raspberry at tradition by playing Wong as a young, wild, clumsy and unmanageable kung-fu student who is sent to train with his notoriously cruel and inebriated uncle Beggar Su (played by Yuen Siu-tien, father of the film's director and renowned fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping). After being painfully schooled in the technique of the Eight Drunken Gods — which requires that the practitioner be four sheets to the wind to yield the best results — Fei-hung must return home to protect his perpetually disapproving father when an assassin nicknamed Thunderleg (Jang Lee Hwang) agrees to kill him for cash. Drunken Master marvellously mixes furiously fast fist- and footwork with Three Stooges-style slapstick antics; the climactic battle between Chan and Hwang — a flurry of kicks, punches, and outrageous gags — stands as one of the most amazing fight scenes in film history.