Posted in Movies

Drunken Master (1978) Review

Jackie Chan plays a young man drunk on youth, who learns how to unlock his potential by getting drunk on alcohol.

Hi there folks. It’s me again. This time I’m reviewing one of my favorite martial arts movies ever, and probably my favorite Jackie Chan movie, Drunken Master.

Jackie Chan plays Wong Fei-Hung, the talented but cocky son of a martial arts teacher. Always getting in trouble and fooling around, he is eventually forced to study under a greatly feared martial arts teacher who lives in the jungle. The teacher is a complete drunk and his training is harsh, but over time, Wong learns to trust the teacher and struggles to become stronger. Soon, the teacher entrusts to him his secret kung-fu technique, the Style of the Eight Drunk Gods.

It’s not the most complicated of movies, so really there isn’t much to say. I have seen a few of the older martial arts movies, including a few of the Bruce Lee classics and one with Jet Li as well. Jackie Chan’s older movies really focus around and take advantage of his comedic and slapstick ability. The guy is tough as nails and you can tell that he is really dedicated to his work. It came as no surprise when I heard that he used to do all of his stunts. Imagine that scene from Police Story where he jumps through a pane of glass and then proceeds to fall from the second floor balcony of a mall to the ground floor. I remember seeing pictures of them removing glass from his bloody arm. Independent of his more recent movies, his older work from a bygone era really stands out to me as a testament to his skills and physical ability. Also, this guy is charming as heck, and you just can’t help but like him.

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I guess there isn’t much less to say as far as thoughts on the movie specifically. I guess I’ll move on to talk about martial arts in general. I have always been intrigued by martial arts, although never enough to return to them after I stopped at a young age. This film presents a martial arts style that I was very interested in, just because of how cool it was. Drunken-style kung-fu (or gon-fu as it is pronounced in China) is a real thing, but apparently it is dangerous to perform while actually intoxicated, which makes sense I guess. The essence of the style is deception and swiftness. To focus ones inner strength does not require a specific outer appearance. If you can channel the power within yourself, why let your opponent be aware of when and how you do it? By moving as if drunk, you can decieve them into moving less cautiously, or at least take away their ability to predict your movements. Who knows what a drunk will do?

What I really find interesting about kung-fu in general is that every movement or step (kata) has a purpose and intention. Kung-fu was invented to fight, and so each step was created to deal with a specific attacking or defensive option from the opponent. When you practice kung-fu, you practice a sequence of these motions which fit a theme of that karate. For the drunken style shown in this film, the teacher imagines 8 gods, each of which have their own personality and a corresponding set of steps which capture that personality. It is not clear when you practice the steps what the purpose is, but as you fight, you begin to understand more and more what steps and styles work for each situation. Soon, switching between sequences and steps and mixing and matching for different opponents becomes second nature, and watching that is simply amazing. It is this evolution of understanding which I find fascinating.

Alrighty, I think that’s it for now. Thanks for reading and have a great day!

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I can’t tie a tie as good as this. I am also not this cute. Dogs 2 – Vish 0.

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