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醉俠蘇乞兒 (1979)
The Story of Drunken Master

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 06/13/2022
Summary: Good, but set a low expectation...

As with most of the films following Yuen Woo-ping's groundbreaking original Drunken Master, The Story of Drunken Master is meant to cash in on the beloved Beggar So character but typically fails to deliver the same results. In this iteration, Beggar So (Simon Yuen) is celebrating his birthday, along with a few students and friends. At a local casino, Cougar (San Kuai) accuses the Pai Gow dealers of cheating and refuses to pay his debts. After a fight with the casino muscle, he manages to get Beggar So's son, Chong (Yuen Lung-Kui) involved and subsequently escapes. Chong tussles with the casino staff but is saved when his father's student Chi Wai (Casanova Wong) intercedes. Later, Chi Wai confronts Cougar and along with Beggar So, determines that he is using Northern Grasshopper style, the kung fu perfected by Beggar So's old rival, Bill Chan (Yen Shi-Kwan). Chan is currently running a healthy trade in a neighboring town, and when he hears about the casino that his brother Cougar was having issues with, he heads in to make trouble. Chan decides to buy up the casino, the local performance hall, and the residence of Beggar So. He also convinces the owner of the hall to unwillingly betroth his daughter (and So's pupil) Gam Fa (Sharon Yeung) to one of his casino thugs (Johnny Cheung). Basically, all hell breaks loose when Grasshopper Chan starts throwing his money around. Beggar So and his students are then determined to bring Chan to heel and end his plans.

Despite the strong cast, The Story of Drunken Master is not all it could have been. One of the issues is that the directors try to use Simon Yuen too much in actual fight scenes, rather than as a character that simply teaches or provides comic relief. When he is actually fighting, he is much too slow and stiff to look credible, and when they double for him, it's too obvious given his sudden ability to do somersaults or back flips. Yuen's real life son, Lung-Kui, is good, but he is still quite young (I'm guessing late teens or early twenties) and hadn't quite developed as a screen fighter yet as this was his first substantial screen role. The real stars here are Sharon Yeung Pan-Pan and Yen Shi-Kwan. Both are excellent in their fights and the choreography suits their abilities. The overall fight choreography throughout the film is actually pretty good, but Yuen Lung-Kui's Drunken Fist finale pales in comparison to other versions put on screen. Casanova Wong is also underwhelming in his fights, despite some nice kicks in training scenes. The Story of Drunken Master is probably worth seeing for a couple of its stars and for a Beggar So completist, but don't expect anything approaching the level of the original.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 05/20/2001
Summary: Lacklustre except for the finish

I had expected to see more of Simon Yuen in action here, but he spends most of his screen time either loafing around or giving orders.

Not that there's any shortage of other fu talent on show. Most impressive is Sharon Yeung, whose flexibility is simply jaw-dropping. She seems to be made of rubber, reinforced with steel springs ! Casanova Wong lashes out with swing kicks by the dozen, though he is performing well below his best. Also, this is the only movie I've seen Casanova smiling in (and it's not a look which suits him). Jen Shi Kwan plays the villain with an appropriate level of venom and skill, whilst junior Yuen clan member does amazing variations on drunken fist.

The pace is pretty slow all the way through, although the first 50 minutes seemed to slip by fairly quickly. The climactic fight scene, intercut between three fighting pairs, is still curiously slow, but the fu is of very high quality, and more varied than many other climaxes.

Overall, not too bad.

Reviewer Score: 4