I was recently asked about films that showcase Drunken Boxing. Most people are familiar with “Drunken Master” and “Drunken Master 2” and so I wanted to highlight a few old school films that focused entirely on Drunk Fist.
Now, before anyone airs their gripes, I know there are a SHITLOAD of films with this particular style in them. There are Shaw Brothers gems (“Heroes of the East”), 90’s wire-fu films (“Last Hero in China”) and even modern movies (“True Legend”) that all feature this particular style in some way, shape or form.
However, in order to keep this relatively straight forward, I decided to focus on old school films that don’t just feature Drunken Boxing but are actually about Drunken Boxing.
As you’ll see up there, there’s a film called “Drunken Master 2” that doesn’t resemble Jackie Chan’s 1994 classic in any way. This is because this "Drunken Master 2" is actually called "Dance of the Drunken Mantis" and is Yuen Woo Ping’s (director of “Drunken Master”) official sequel to the original film.
Yuen Siu Tien (Woo Ping’s real life father) and Hwang Jang Lee return but, this time, Jackie Chan is replaced by Yuen Shun-Yi (woo Ping’s brother).
If you want a Drunken Style film, pick this up as it’s fucking phenomenal. Hwang Jang Lee does Drunken Mantis and there’s even a style called Sick Fist which is based off the movements of someone who’s ill.
It’s a bit manic and has a pretty tedious amount of comedy but the fights, training sequences and characters put it up there with the Jackie starring original. In fact, some people say it’s better. Me? Hm…not quite. But I’d say it’s the second best drunken style film of all time and a must have.
"Drunken Arts and Crippled Fist" is a pretty unknown film. Here we have Lee Yi Min (from “Mystery of Chess Boxing” under Yuen Siu Tien’s (surprise!) tutelage.
I love Lee Yi Min. He’s incredibly acrobatic and definitely a talent then never really got much recognition. This isn’t one of his best films but the fighting is great, even if everything else isn’t. Be warned, as far as I can remember there isn’t a massive emphasis on Drunken Boxing here.
In order to keep this post shorter, I’ll summarize the rest of the films…
Kung Fu of 8 Drunkards - A solid second tier kung fu film. Don’t expect too many recognizable faces or anything incredible and you’ll be surprised. There’s great fights on display as well as some of the greatest villains you’ll ever see. The wigs by themselves make this film worth watching. I rate it as a pretty decent watch but it’s not exactly yhe upper echelon of 70’s shapes flicks.
Shaolin Drunken Monk - Casanova Wong and Gordon Liu! It must be good, right? Not really. Shaw Brothers this ain’t.
It’s great to see Gordon break out his own unique Drunken Style but the film is pretty grating save for a solid final fight (complete with villainous Mantis Form). Granted, all 70’s kung fu looks cheap but this looks like it was made for $10 by a twelve year old You Tuber. It’s worth one watch but don’t buy it unless you’re a Liu completist.
The Story of Drunken Master - As far as I can recall, you should avoid this film like the plague. It tries to drag you in with a focus on Drunk Fist and then completely deviates and becomes a pretty dire, uninspired kung fu flick. The fights are good in places but it’s certainly not up there. If you like lady fighters, this one might be your cup of tea. I love lady fighters and still think this is pretty shit.
World of Drunken Master - The cast and director of “Mystery of Chess Boxing” reunite and make a kung fu classic. The Drunk Fist on display here is a little odd as it sacrifices the stumbling and tripping for an emphasis on the “cupped hands.” But this is straight kung fu mayhem with fantastic training sequences and a pretty phenomenal finale.
Of course, I love Jack Long so I might be biased. However, he rarely puts in a bad performance and seems like he’s rather backflip than walk.
So, my top two recommendations would be…
Dance of the Drunken Mantis
World of Drunken Master
But it wouldn’t be too bad if you watched “Kung Fu of 8 Drunkards” and “Drunken Arts and Crippled Fist” either.
Oh and if anyone tries to recommend “Drunken Tai Chi” by yelling about Donnie Yen being in it, don’t listen to them. It’s a Tai Chi film, not a Drunken Style film. Oh and it’s FUCKING TERRIBLE bar one or two fights.
So there you go.