Hong Kong Cinema

Drunken Master

(Drunken Monkey in the Tiger's Eyes)

  • Made: 1978
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: Region 2 PAL
  • Release Date: 24 April 2000
  • Company: Hong Kong Legends
  • Length: 107 minutes
  • Picture: Anamorphic 1.77:1 Widescreen
  • Language: Mandarin with Subtitles, English Dubbed
  • Extras: Interactive menus, Filmographies and Bios, Trailers, Deleted Scene, Text interview with Ng See Yuen, HJL Showcase
  • Classification: 15


Yuen Woo Ping


Jackie Chan, Simon Yuen Siu Tien, Hwang Jang Lee, Yuen Shun Yi, Dean Shek Tin, Brandy Yuen, Tino Wong, Yuen Woo Ping, Hsu Hsia

Drunken Master is not only Jackie Chan's best film, but the benchmark for all other kung-fu movies. The film was released in the same year as Chan's other cult movie Snake In The Eagles shadow, and as such are considered classics of the genre. After Snake in the Eagle's Shadow had launched Jackie Chan to superstar status, Drunken Master cemented his position taking HK $6.7m at the box office (almost the combined takings of 36th Chamber, Warriors 2 and Crippled Avengers that year!) Starring alongside Jackie in both films is Korean super kicker and ultimate bad guy Hwang Jang Lee, who had previously kicked Jackie Chan's tooth out during filming of the last fight in Snake in the Eagle's Shadow.

Directed by Yuen Woo Ping who most recently became known by Western audiences for his work in the sci-fi film 'The Matrix', his jaw-dropping choreography pre-dates his recent work by nearly 20 years. Jackie was seen as a box office liability before Producer Ng See Yuen got him working for Seasonal Films under the direction of Yuen Woo Ping. Yuen Woo Ping's dad (Simon Yuen) is cast as the fan favourite Sam Seed. All of these factors make the movie, which is noted by fans and Jackie himself, an absolute must see for any lover of kung fu films.


Chan plays Chinese folk-hero Wong Fei-Hung, a Chinese folk legend who has been immortalised in over 100 films played by Kwan Tak Hing, Jet Li and Gordon Liu among others. Jackie's character has a penchant for mischief and unquestionable talent. After betting his friends he could persuade a girl to give him a hug, unaware that she is his cousin, Fei-Hung unsuspectingly gets into a fight with his aunt. When his father is made aware he forbids him to leave the house and as punishment puts him through an excruciating training regime, which includes endless hours of Horse Stance. When he finally leaves the house Fei-Hung befriends Mr Su (played by the ever brilliant Yuen Siu Tien) who imposes even more tough training on him. However this becomes unbearable and he escapes, only to be confronted by the assassin Thunderfoot (Hwang Jang Lee) who humiliates him in a fight and ridicules his fathers kung-fu style. Fei-Hung returns to Su and begs him to teach him the forms of The Eight Drunken Mortals, in order for him to get his revenge on Thunderfoot.


Drunken Master kicks major ass in every department that makes the difference between outstanding and acceptable. The audience is treated to an endless amount of fights from the outset, each different in style but equally breath-taking. With each fight we witness different techniques (whether it be mantis, crane or drunken fist) and situations that never fail to impress. To complement the many fights we are served a nice slice of goofball humour that delivers impressively and consistently throughout. Gruelling training sequences are another fantastic aspect that genuinely make you feel Jackie's pain just watching. The Yuen Clan's prominence is evident here with the slapstick and high kicking choreography done by Yuen Woo Ping his brothers Yuen Shun Yi, Yuen Chun Wei, plus Cory Yuen and Shaw Brothers legend Hsu Hsia (who also plays the King of Sticks in the film). Simon Yuen (Sam Seed) is also heavily doubled by his brother Brandy Yuen, who along with Yuen Biao also doubles for Jackie.

Every performance in the film is of a high standard, even from actors with small parts whom we see briefly (. Jackie plays the part of the mischievous kid/hapless hero impeccably and really gets the audience on his side with his humour and his jaw dropping talent. In contrast, HJL plays the villain like no other, from the outset his evil intentions are made clear and we want him to be usurped. Like Jackie his high kicking talent is remarkable to watch. Along with Snake In The Eagles Shadow, Drunken Master was the start of Jackie Chan's meteoric rise to the pinnacle of the Kung Fu Temple.


The disc is one of the first releases from the Hong Kong Legends label in 2000. Although an impressive release, it is also hugely flawed. The original 2.35:1 aspect ratio has been cropped to 1.77:1, which detracts from the overall experience. The only audio tracks are Mandarin and English (both mono), there is no Cantonese track. Other releases such as Columbia Tri Star (Region 1) and Mei Ah (Region 3) have provided a damaged Cantonese track supplanted with English / Mandarin respectively. The extras include a HJL kicking showcase, text interview with Ng See Yuen and a deleted scene. As this is an early HKL release there is no Bey Logan commentary. HKL did mention a couple of years ago that they would release Platinum edition versions of Drunken Master and Snake in the Eagle's Shadow with correct aspect ratio and remastered audio tracks, but only silence has followed.

(PS. The English dubbed version has Wong Fei-Hung as 'Freddy Wong' and several other name adaptations!)


Many people see Lau Kar Leung's Spiritual Boxer (also 1978) as the the first kung fu comedy, this may be true, but DM was the film that defined the genre that countless others tried to imitate. The success of Drunken Master paved the way for Jackie's move to Golden Harvest and his breakthrough in the U.S.A and it is easy to see why. Amazing fight scenes, great performances, and an engaging plot make this an endlessly enjoyable movie that can be watched over again. Often imitated, never bettered, it is still the benchmark for all other Kung Fu Movies.