Come Drink with Me
Back in the day, Kung Fu women still kicked butt. Pei-Pei Cheng was one of those women, who helped blaze trails that modern action women march down every day. This film is one that helped inspire countless films after it, it transcends being simply a martial arts film, and becomes a great martial arts film. It’s not just the fights, it’s the costumes, characters, actors, story, and just overall feel of the film. Does it have flaws? Of course. They are fewer in number than most of the films that come down the pipe, but we shall have no inhibitions about pointing them out. A good time is to be had, come this way. Come drink this movie with us. (Boy, that sounds a lot better than the literal translation “Big Drunk Hero” which would cause us to invite you to become a fat drunk slob.)
It starts out with a prison caravan. The prisoners are transported in wagons where they are completely locked down, with their heads stuck out of a hole they cannot escape from. What is important is the caravan is attacked by bandits. Not just any bandits, these are competent bandits. They are led by a pale Man in White, who demands the release of the gang’s boss. He is refused, so they kill everyone except a Master Chung, who is taken hostage. Master Chung just happens to be the son of the governor, and the bandits think they can secure the release of their leader through a hostage trade. This is not to be, as the governor doesn’t put up with that crap. The bandits are not aware of this at first, and instead the governor sends his most trusted servant, Golden Swallow. The bandits only know rumors of Golden Swallow, which they spread to each other like the STDs they probably trade to each other at the whore house. ZING!
So Golden Swallow arrives. As we know going in, she’s played by Pei-Pei Cheng and is a girl. The characters in the movie have no idea who she is, or that she’s even a girl. They seem to think she’s a boy, and refer to her as such. It’s pretty obvious by looking at her she’s a girl. Maybe Ancient China was plagued with teenage boys full of feminine features. Or maybe these guys have been hanging out with their fellow criminal men alone together too long. In any case, they immediately suspect her of being trouble, and begin to harass her in an inn’s eating area. Golden Swallow shows off some moves as she nonchalantly blocks, dodges, or attacks the various characters all while trying to finish her drink. She’s ordered killed by the sub-boss Smiling Tiger Tsu Han (aka Number Three), who is leading the men at the inn, which he gives orders by flashing a fan. Before all this goes on, a local Drunk wanders in to spy on the fighting. He’s mentioned because he becomes integral to the plot later on. As for now, he’s what passes for comic relief. Meanwhile, Golden Swallow has beaten up all the villains and sent them packing, you missed it while I was explaining the Drunk. She’s just that fast. It is the best fight scene in the movie. She has five days to rescue her brother or else he’ll be killed.
That night, the Man in White has his gang hiding at a Temple, and he sends Number Five to deal with Golden Swallow while she sleeps. Not Johnny Five, this Number Five is some lame goon who can’t do anything right. Golden Swallow is lead out of the inn as she chases after the Drunk, who barged into her room and stole some of her weapons. He leaves them lying around outside, and when she takes them back inside, she sees Number Five trying to sneak into her room. He is quickly scared off, and she realizes that the Drunk took her weapons to warn her, and there is more to him than there appears.
The next morning, the Drunk is leading some local kids in song, and they sing lyrics such as “I’m proud of my pot belly!” The wonders of drunken writing. One of the kids is supposed to be little Jackie Chan. I have no idea which one, or if that is even true. I’m just throwing that out there. None of the kids beats up people with a Fridge or a Ladder, so no help there. The Drunk’s name is given as Drunken Cat, and he doesn’t want help from Golden Swallow, or to give her help, but she realizes that the next song he sings is full of clues of where to go to find the gang at, so he’s like a secret spy.
The song says to go to the temple, so she gets all dolled up and goes to see Buddha. The gang reveals themselves, and the Man in White is named as Jade Faced Tiger. By now, they’re all calling Golden Swallow by feminine names, as if they’ve always known she was a girl. Gender confusion must not have been a big deal back then. So a battle ensues, where Golden Swallow fights with her double blades against many attackers, holding her own. More fighters join, and soon the battle spills into the courtyard. There, some of the gang gets a fatal lesson not to mess with her, but she starts to get overwhelmed when Jade Faced Tiger joins in. It turns out Drunken Cat is there as well, secretly helping. Golden Swallow manages to escape, but is hit with a poison dart. She collapses in the forest outside the temple, but is saved by Drunken Cat, who takes her to his house by a waterfall. There, he deals with her poison, and deals with her being upset at him by saying “observe more, fight less,” and other similar things.
Several gang members figure out what happened and show up at his house to claim Golden Swallow, but he kills them all, then carts their bodies back to where the gang in hiding, claiming he found them lying around in the forest, killed by Golden Swallow. The gang makes him stay for dinner, especially since the Abbot of the Temple is returning, a fellow by the name of Liao Kung. Abbot Liao Kung realizes just by looking at the dead bodies that Drunken Cat finished them, as he has the same style of Kung Fu. In fact, they were training under the same master, but Liao Kung killed the master to get a special Ancient Rod that Drunken Cat took instead to keep if from falling into evil hands. As Liao Kung saved Drunken Cat’s life when he was young, Drunken Cat would not seek out Abbot Liao Kung to attack him, but that doesn’t stop Liao Kung from hunting him. Drunken Cat escaped while Liao Kung was figuring out who did the deathdealing. Abbot Liao Kung likes to dress like the Pope, only if the Pope’s robes were made out of a brick wall pattern fabric.
Drunken Cat practices for what will be his battle with Liao Kung, and realizes he is probably not powerful enough to win. Instead, he makes a deal to trade the Leader of the Gang for Master Chung, and somehow gets Abbot Kung to wait three days to attack him. The prisoner exchange goes off without a hitch. If you are the good guys, as Drunken Cat jumps out from the cart that the Gang Boss is carted in and wheels him back to the police line. So basically they just betrayed the gang. Drunken Cat tells the gang as such, and they decide NOT to kill him immediately. I guess they figured that they’d lose too many men killing him, and they’d need all of them for what they do next, which is ambushing the police caravan taking the Gang Boss back to jail. Golden Swallow is well enough she is helping defend, along with a whole contingent of girls dressed like her. There is also a squad of male police, but her brother Master Chung just sits in his box again. Master Chung is like you’re no good brother who lives at home at age 28 working three days a week delivering pizzas while playing MMORPGs the rest of the week. Sure, his Level 74 Orc is impressive, but his paleness and stench will kill your senses of site and smell.
The gang starts to make headway through the police, battling a war of attrition. Eventually, some of the gang runs off with their Leader still in the wagon. Golden Swallow gives chase to go get it back. There, she has some nice dueling sequences where she kills a few of the lower bosses (Numbers Three and Four) and fights Jade Faced Tiger for a while, slowly cutting him up. Jade Faced Tiger is saved by Abbot Kung, who arrives just in time, and is impervious to Golden Swallow’s weapons. He starts slamming her around, and then she is saved at the last second by Drunken Cat. Now the two heavyweights go at it, including mists from sleeves attacks and other fund things. As can be expected, Drunken Cat eventually gets the better, and tells Abbot Kung that if he agrees to leave forever and get a new name and life, he’ll let him life. Abbot Kung agrees, and unlike Hollywood, doesn’t attempt to kill Drunken Cat the second he turns his back on him. Abbot Kung actually waits until Drunken Cat returns to his home to ambush him. Not really an ambush, Drunken Cat seems unsurprised, and Kung is killed by a combination of booze and the Ancient Rod. We get a half second shot of Golden Swallow about to leave in the prison caravan again, and the movie ends.
Wait, WHAT HAPPENED WITH JADE FACED TIGER AND THE GANG BOSS? How could they forget to tell us? I’m used to these films having no resolution, but this was just an abrupt ending. It’s like a DVD that was missing the chapter right before the credits. Nothing is wrapped up, except that the Abbot is dead, and Golden Swallow is going home. They don’t explain what happens to the bad guys, or why her brother is such a gigantic wuss while she’s the Queen of Awesome Kung Fu. Such a failure hurts the overall score for this movie, a sad necessity, as this film was pretty good up until that point. There is a sequel, but the plot description seemed to have nothing to do with this one, so it can’t be a continuation. The ending is almost as annoying as those “It’s all a dream” endings, but not quite. Still, it’s enough to distract from the rest of the film, and that is bad.
Rated 7/10 (Fan Orders, TRAPPED! or is she…, Practice, Prison Cart, Drunken Cat, poison, King Pope Abbot Liao Kung)
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