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Film / Drunken Master

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Jackie Chan's fourth starring role, and the one that put him on the map.

Wong Fei-hung is a young, irresponsible martial arts student who, in the space of one day, manages to anger his kung fu instructor by demonstrating that the instructor was an incompetent in front of the entire class, antagonize his aunt by making advances towards her daughter, and a local nobleman for beating the crap out of his (very snooty) son. As punishment, his father sends him to train under Beggar So, who has a reputation for crippling his students. Naturally, Fei-Hung doesn't like this idea, and so he escapes, only to run into Beggar So, who gives him brutally rigorous training. At first, Fei-Hung hates his mentor, but he comes to respect him and becomes a much more proficient martial artist. At the end, Fei-Hung uses his new knowledge to defeat an assassin after his father.


Later, there was a sequel of sorts in the form of Drunken Master II, released in North America as Legend of Drunken Master. Wong Fei-Hung accidentally comes into possession of several valuable Chinese artifacts, which smugglers are trying to sell to Evil Brits. In 2005, Time Magazine declared this movie one of the 100 best movies of all time, and Roger Ebert rates the climactic foundry fight as probably the best fight scene ever committed to film.

    First Film 
  • Addiction-Powered: Of course, seeing how his mastery is drunken. The negative consequences of this are explored in the second movie.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Fei-Hung disrespects people and does whatever he wants because he thinks he can either fight or trick his way out of anything. His Character Development requires him to learn some self-discipline and humility.
  • Ass Kicks You: Fei-Hung's interpretation of "Drunken Miss Ho" involves hip-checks to unbalance the opponent; he even tries an ass-drop attack on Yan Ti San, but Yan manages to dodge it.
  • Booze-Based Buff: The trick to Drunken Boxing is that you actually have to be drunk for it to work effectively. See Worf Had the Flu below for more.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Fei-Hung is an expert fighter, no doubt about it. He's probably be an even better one if he spent as much time training as he did trying to get out of training.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Averted when Thunderleg meets Beggar So partway during the climatic battle. He wants no part of Beggar So, and tells So that his fight is of no concern to So.
  • Calling Your Attacks: The Eight Drunken Gods style. Each of the 8 moves has its own verse. Played for laughs later when Fei-Hong, failing to master Lady Ho's kata, makes up some bullshit moves and lines of his own.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Beggar So. His first appearance has him throw a metal kettle of boiling water at the Dumb Muscle who was vain enough to fight bare chested, and he keeps going from there. Of course, he's a vagrant as well as a martial arts master, his lifestyle has no need of "fair play".
  • Drunken Boxing: If it wasn't obvious.
  • Drunken Master: The Trope Namer, of course.
  • Evil Virtues: Yan Ti San/Thunderleg is a killer for hire. Off the clock he is an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy par excellence, but once he is hired, he is a Consummate Professional; he cannot be bribed or rehired by the current target to kill his current client, and he will not relent until his target is dead.
  • Fatal Flaw: Fei-Hung is not nearly as clever as he thinks himself to be, and he is constantly slacking off from training. This goes beyond being merely Brilliant, but Lazy however, as he never bothers to learn the eighth form of Drunken Boxing ("Drunken Miss Ho" which he feels is too feminine to work in a fight) and he has to make up his own eighth form in the final fight to keep from getting killed. He gets over this hangup by the second film, where he uses the form to psych opponents out.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: Yan Ti San is most likely called Thunderleg in the English dub because he relies heavily on a slower fighting style that emphasizes power over speed, punctuated with lethal kicks. In the final fight with Fei-Hung, he reveals a hitherto-unseen style; The Shadowless Hand, a punching technique so fast that the human eye can't track it.
  • My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: One reason Fei-Hung returns to Beggar-So and takes his training more seriously is his defeat at the hands of another martial artist, Yan Ti San. (Thunderleg, in the English dub)
  • Old Master: Beggar-So is exactly the kind of wandering master one wouldn't expect to be a master. He's also usually drunk.
  • Out-Gambitted: When Fei-Hung tried to walk out of the restaurant without paying, he attempted the old "that old guy over there's paying" trick. "That old guy over there" just happened to be the owner of the restaurant. Worse, Fei-hung claimed the guy was his father. Which prompted the head waiter to ask "You have more than one father?". The head waiter just happened to be the son of the owner and added "You must be a bastard, then". Obviously, the owner and his family had seen this trick before and don't mind giving so much food away for free if it means they get to teach the perpetrator a lesson.
    • Fei-Hung's luck at gambits extends to his tutelage under Beggar So; See below.
  • Pec Flex: The restaurant bouncer, Iron Gorilla, enjoys using this technique.
  • Shell Game: Beggar So stops to gamble against Rat the Iron Headed Bullet. Rat tries to run a rigged shell game, and is easily caught.
  • Training from Hell: The usual methods apply here, like scooping water from a bucket with teacups only to fill another bucket while upside down.
    • It's worth noting that the training wouldn't be so hellish if Fei-Hung wasn't trying to weasel his way out of it. In the teacups instance, he makes to fill the bucket directly with the other while Beggar So is taking a nap. However, So is one step ahead of him and when an obviously winded Fei-Hung announces he's completed his task, So tells him to now empty that bucket out with teacups roughly the size of shot glasses.
  • Trash Talk: Yan Ti San is a master of this.
  • The Trickster: Fei-Hung is very sneaky, one reason why he's in enough trouble to be sent away for special training.
  • Trickster Mentor: Beggar-So is equally sneaky, finding interesting ways to keep Fei-Hung from running away from his (often brutal) training.
  • Trope Codifier: For the Drunken Master and Hong Kong Martial Arts Movie, whose tropes film lovingly reproduces and creates the perfect product.
  • Worf Had the Flu: As stated above, Drunken Boxing requires one to be legitimately intoxicated. The one time in the film Beggar So is forced to fight sober (because Fei-Hung spent the money on fine food and wine for himself rather than a booze run and filled So's flask with water instead once he noticed he had drank most of it himself,) he is rapidly outclassed. To be fair though, the movie does take pains to show that it is not the lack of alcohol that is the problem, but Beggar So's shakes as he is coming down from his near constant buzz.

    Second Film 
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Fei-Hong fights with a massive bamboo that starts splintering from the impact into a mess of serrated edges that can cause genuine harm, not just to opponents but the person holding it. Long story short, you don't want to try this at home.
  • Bad Boss: Anyone holding a position at the foundry, since they're putting all the workers through the grinder and just using them to cover a smuggling syndicate.
  • Booze-Based Buff: The main character's a drunken boxer, so this is a given. Taken Up to Eleven during the final battle when Fei-Hong decides to booze up with industrial-grade alcohol from a foundry.
  • Booze Flamethrower: What happens when Fei-Hong spits a mouthful of alcohol at his foe, who's coming at Fei-Hong with a superheated metal rod.
  • The Cameo: Bill Tung, Jackie's longtime costar from the Police Story movies, appears at the end as a police chief.
  • Combat Hand Fan: In the second movie, Fei-Hung uses one to great effect against a giant mook. The saying written on it also inspired him to use a Booze-Based Buff to defeat the Big Bad and The Dragon.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Fei-Hong is not above kicking dirt in his opponents' faces, or whipping them with serrated splintered bamboo. The bad guys, being bad guys, naturally take it further by dropping coal tippers and lit alcohol on him in the finale.
  • Continuity Nod: The return of the Eight Drunken Gods style, down to the whole thing with treating Lady Ho as the Joke Character.
  • Convection Shmonvection: All over the place in the final battle in the foundry. And those fires are all real!
  • Epic Flail: One of the thugs in the foundry fight lights a chain on fire, and uses it on Fei-Hong.
  • Everyone Has Standards: The Dragon actually looks concerned when he notices that Fei-Hong has started chugging industrial alcohol in the finale.
  • Evil Brit: The villains of the sequel, who steal Chinese artifacts to the British Museum of Art. Interestingly, the English dub uses American voice actors for good Chinese characters (save Jackie Chan himself) while using a British voice actors for a villainous Chinese character.
  • Eye Scream: Part of the final fight involves The Dragon shoving his square jaw into Fei-Hong's eyes, after which Fei-Hong shoves his nose into the bugger's eyes. There's no lasting damage, but unless you've trained in blindfolded boxing or something, you've got a problem.
  • Fake Pregnancy: Seemingly Ling does this to distract the father from beating Fei-Hung and she reacts nervously whenever her husband refers to her supposed pregnancy. It turns out she really was pregnant and simply knew when to time the news to her advantage.
  • The Glasses Come Off: What John does while demonstrating himself to be Fei-Hung's Final Boss - balancing on one leg to show off his kicking skills.
  • Karma Houdini: We never see what happens to the English ambassador that masterminded the smuggling racket.
  • Kung-Shui: The axe gang ambush. It's Jackie Chan so you fully expect him to use the tables and benches, but Law Kar-Leung as Master Fu takes this to destructive levels, from breaking off wooden railings for his own use to smashing an entire staircase!
  • The Legend of X: The North American title
  • Large Ham: Ling, Fei-Hong's stepmother, especially when she is trying to fool her husband.
  • Lighthearted Rematch: After Fei-Hong and Master Fu clear up their misunderstanding and get their bundles back, they drop whatever weapons they were using and go at it like gentlemen.
  • Mama Bear: Ling is relentless in protecting her stepson from his father.
  • Mohs Scale of Violence Hardness: It rates a 4. It's mostly bloodless martial arts mayhem, but it can still get a bit rough.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: John. In the beginning he comes off as the brains of the henchmen, especially with his huge nerd glasses. Come the final fight though, he winds up being Fei-Hung's last opponent and likely the most dangerous of them when he reveals his powerful kicking techniques.
  • Post-Victory Collapse: What happens to Fei-Hong after the climactic battle. He beats his opponent, but collapses after consuming industrial alcohol to do so.
  • The Quisling: There's a lot of Chinese thugs working for the English ambassador in his artifact-smuggling racket.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Master Fu, the imperial officer and master martial artist who was just out to get back an imperial seal (and the closest thing to a Big Good in this movie), is shot dead by the bad guys before the final battle.
  • Satchel Switcheroo: The drama starts when Fei-Hong tries to recover a priceless ginseng at the same time that Master Fu is trying to recover an imperial seal - both of which are packaged in the exact same fashion.
  • Shameful Strip: The villains find Fei-Hong after he's OD'ed on alcohol and vulnerable, then beat him into the floor before stripping him naked and literally stringing him up to be found the next day.
  • Shirtless Scene: When ambushed by an axe gang from all sides, Master Fu makes Fei-Hong take his shirt off, then covers him in oil to make it harder to grab him.
  • So Last Season: Invoked and subverted - Fei-Hong breaks out the Eight Drunken Gods style relatively early in his first real fight with the villains, but The Dragon wasn't present for that one, and it doesn't matter anyway because Fei-Hong in the final fight just chains one move after another without Calling Your Attacks, to create one long No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting in this time due to the spread of martial arts, though this girl from the marketplace who sells live animals like snakes has yet to sit down for formal lessons. She's shown doing badly at the end of the axe gang ambush, but when they start Storming the Castle in the finale, everyone lends a hand while the girl... throws live snakes at the guards.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: The only time they do stay faithful to the taditional Wong Fei-Hong of history. Fei-Hong actually drags one of the Bad Boss foremen out of the way before his foundry worker buddy can crush his head under a coal tipper.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ling and Marlon, they quarrel over the attention of their female friend and argue about their fighting styles, but it's clear they are protective of each other.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: It's not till the final fight that we get one, which is a little odd considering how many times Fei-Hong drinks. Likely because it's treated as The Gloves Come Off.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Fei-Hung genuinely respects his father, despite all the trouble he's caused; After a particularly out-of-control bender where he mistakes his father for an opponent, Fei-Hung agrees to give up drunken boxing permanently. Mind you, this is somewhere roughly in the end of the second act and we've still got at least one more big fight to go, so it isn't that permanent.
  • Would Hit a Girl: That foundry manager who hits Ling in the face immediately earns the first big beatdown in the movie, and a face full of lit alcohol in the finale.

Alternative Title(s): Legend Of The Drunken Master, Drunken Master II


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