Free Movie Monday: Drunken Master

Because we’re all too broke to go to the theater or afford gold-plated rental services, FSR is offering free movies every Monday for the month of September. If this title doesn’t strike your fancy, head to Crackle.com to see what else they have for your viewing pleasure. The selection is great, and even better – the price is right.

There’s a lot of talk about what the best martial arts movie of all time is. Do you go classic with Bruce Lee? Do you boldly go modern with Tony Jaa? Do you insist on a Woo-ping flick? While that world is a difficult one to navigate, the genre is one of the easiest to enjoy, and Drunken Master is one of the finest examples of it.

Jackie Chan before he was Americanized delivers stunts that would leave Evil Knieval’s jaw on the floor and will leave most of your eyeballs there, too. Plus, it marries two of our favorite past times: getting drunk and fighting.

If you love it, you know you want to see it again (even if you use it as an excuse to also watch Snake in Eagle’s Shadow). If you haven’t seen it, you owe it to yourself to stop reading my ramblings and go watch it.

It’s a shame that there’s an entire generation of film goers who think of Jackie Chan as the guy from the Rush Hour movies. Or, worse, the guy from The Tuxedo. Without digging back to the 70s, there’s no way they will ever know just how quick and precise his skill was. He could drink a bottle of wine and find time to make fun of you while kicking your ass. In that sense, he’s the Chinese equivalent of the ornery asshole from Shit My Dad Says.

The story is a simple one. Chan plays Wong Fei Hung – a young man who gets into trouble as a hobby and eventually is sent to train under the brutal Drunken Master, Beggar So. He refuses at first, but when he provokes a killer named Yan Ti San, he returns to Beggar So for training and eventually faces off against Yan Ti San again to save his father.

The key is this: if you love Chan’s comedic action films now, you’ll love this film. It’s the prototype for all of them. He’s a free-wheeling character who is quick with his words and with his fists, he studies a new style, and he conquers a previously unbeatable foe. It’s not rocket surgery, but it’s a metric ton of ass-kicking entertainment.

If it’s the shock value of death-defying stunts that thrills you, there are plenty here to satisfy. He doesn’t quite risk his life, but Chan’s drunken style is physics-defying in its complexity and makes him look like he’s auditioning for the sequel to The Last Exorcism. It all comes together with the classic martial arts design of Yuen Woo-ping – an unrivaled master of fight choreography.

Over all, it’s a movie that will sucker punch a smile on your face and then make you cringe at the prospect of getting kicked. It’s fast, easy, and it features a character named Thunderfoot. It just doesn’t get any better than that.

Watch Drunken Master or check out the other films that Crackle has to offer. For free.

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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