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World of Drunken Master
AKA: Drunken Dragon "Look at this arthritis! I'm doomed!"
Simon Yuen does the Drunken Fist thing
Year: 1979
Director: Joseph Kuo Nan-Hong
Producer: Joseph Kuo Nan-Hong
Action: Yuen Cheung-Yan
Cast: Jack Lung Goon-Ng, Chan Wai-Lau, Simon Lee, Jeannie Chang, Lung Fei, Li Yi-Min, Simon Yuen Hsiao-Tien (cameo)
The Skinny: Unofficial prequel/sequel to Jackie Chan's popular Drunken Master film that focuses on the life and times of Beggar Su and his longtime friend, Fan Ta-Pei.
Review by
     Though a young Wong Fei-Hung served as the protagonist of Yuen Woo-Ping's 1978 hit Drunken Master, the most endearing character of the film would have to be his comical sifu, Beggar Su Hua-Tzu (Simon Yuen). Also known as "Sam Seed" in English dubbed versions of the film, Beggar Su ranks highly among the many iconic figures of martial arts cinema. Naturally, in a blatant attempt to capitalize on the box office success of that early Jackie Chan classic, director Joseph Kuo resurrected the character for this semi-sequel. Though Simon Yuen is featured prominently on the poster art (with no less than three images), he only appears briefly in the credit sequence as he demonstrates the art of drunken boxing. Once the film proper begins rolling, however, two other actors replace Yuen for the remainder of the film. It's a big disappointment for Drunken Master fans, considering the obvious charm Simon Yuen brought to the role, but the film does its best to make up for his absence.
     The plot starts out simple enough: after a thirty year hiatus, Beggar Su and Fan Ta-Pei (Jack Lung in old age makeup) meet once more. The circumstances are mysterious; each has been invited for a drink at a seemingly abandoned outdoor eatery, but both think the other has requested the meeting. After some preliminary "Let's reintroduce ourselves!" fisticuffs, the two end up downing a few shots of expensive wine and reminiscing about their adventure-filled pasts. Here the narrative shifts to the duo's mischievous teenaged years, when the two bickering con artists joined forces to swipe some grapes from the local vineyard. However, the two are soon caught by Chang Chi (Chan Wai-Lau), who promptly puts the two to work for the winemaker.
     But, after learning that the two scamps tried unsuccessfully to help some locals fend off the evil Tiger Yeh (Lung Fei) and his dastardly cronies, Chang Chi decides to teach Su and Fan the secrets of drunken boxing. As is customary with martial arts films, our young heroes then undergo some vigorous, oftentimes humorous training exercises and compete, albeit somewhat vaguely, for the affections of the local beauty, Yu-Lu (Jeannie Chang). But when Tiger Yeh seeks out Chang Chi to avenge an old grudge, IT ALL GOES TO HELL! The outcome of this battle eventually explains the thirty-year separation of Beggar Su and Fan Ta-Pei and the subsequent mystery of their reunion.
     Though World of Drunken Master fails to achieve the glorious heights of Drunken Master or the previous Jackie Chan-Simon Yuen collaboration Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, the film does have its moments. The Yuen Cheung Yan-directed martial arts sequences are, for the most part, pretty entertaining. And despite their rather bland appearances, Li Yi-Min and Jack Lung make a competent comic team. The decision to bookend the film with sequences in the present day is a rather novel twist to the typical chopsocky plotline, but the confusing, repetitive ending (which ends in a cliffhanger of sorts) takes away from whatever innovations the filmmakers employed in this—for all intents and purposes—Drunken Master clone. Still, despite the somewhat harsh language I've used to describe the film, I have to admit that I was generally entertained by the movie. You don't have to be drunk to enjoy World of Drunken Master, but it probably couldn't hurt. (Calvin McMillin 2003)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Mei Ah Laser
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 2.0
Removable Chinese and English Subtitles

image courtesy of Mei Ah Laserdisc Co., Ltd. Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen