Come Drink With Me

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (79 votes, average: 4.19 out of 5)
Posted On: January 25, 2012
Posted In: Action Movies, All Movies, Jackie Chan, Jackie Chan Movies, Kung Fu Fighting, Kung Fu Movie Reviews, Kung Fu Movies, Martial Arts Movies, Shaolin Kung Fu, Shaolin Temple, Shaw Brothers
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This is considered by most aficionados to be the first great Kung Fu genre film to come out of Hong Kong in the 1960′s and is most certainly a great film by any standard. Produced by the inimitable Shaw Brothers and written and directed by King Hu, this film is an absolute technical masterpiece that defied the stereotypical films of Hong Kong at that time. The script, plot, performances, fight choreography, cinematography (compliments of master Tadashi Nishimoto) as well as direction and production values far surpassed the Hong Kong films of the era. One can make a very strong argument that the golden age of Hong Kong film making began with “Come Drink With Me” and ended with Bruce Lee’s passing.

At the time of this film’s release in 1966, it was selected as the Hong Kong entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 39th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.

There are many remarkable and notable things about the film: Jackie Chan claims to be one of the choir children in the opening scenes. Pei Pei Chang plays Golden Swallow, at a time when female action stars were unheard of. Hua Yueh turns in a masterful performance as “Drunk Cat” (Fan Tai Pei).

The plot revolves around a general’s son who is taken hostage and used as leverage to free a bandit leader. The general’s other offspring, a girl named Golden Swallow, is sent to rescue the son. When the bandit gang encounter the Golden Swallow in a local inn, the prisoner negotiation escalates to bloodshed and the kidnappers are beaten to a pulp.

A local drunk beggar named Fan Tai Pei acts as Golden Swallow’s guardian angel, secretly helping her avoid being ambushed at night. That morning Fan Tai Pei, whom we now know only as “Drunken Cat” tips off Golden Swallow to the bandits whereabouts. They have occupied a Buddhist monastery.

Under the guise of an acolyte, Golden Swallow penetrates the temple and confronts the man who’s taken her brother hostage. During the brawl she is injured by a deadly, poisoned dart. She escapes and is rescued in the woods by Fan Tai Pei who nurses her back to health. While she’s convalescing, Golden Swallow learns that Fan is actually a martial arts master and a leader of a Kung Fu society, which he otherwise keeps a secret.

The monastery is led by an evil abbot, Liao Kung, who is also a kung fu master and has allied himself with the bandits. He finds out that the beggar carries a bamboo staff and then realises that the beggar is the former student of the same master. The abbot has in fact killed their master in order to get his bamboo staff, which was rescued by Fan Tai Pei. Now abbot Liao Kung sees the opportunity to gain control of the staff.

Fan Tai Pei is hesitant to confront Liao Kung for two reasons. First, Liao Kung’s Kung Fu skills are unparalleled, and he thinks he has no chances against him, or at the very least, one of them would not survive a confrontation. Second, despite his evil ways, Liao Kung has actually done a good deed to Fan Tai Pei: he persuaded the master to accept Fan Tai Pei into the Green Wand Kung-Fu school when he was a mere homeless orphan, thus giving him a chance in life. For this reason, Fan is reluctant to fight the abbot even though Fan knows about the abbot’s criminal deeds.

In order to release the General’s son, Fan stages a prisoner exchange. During the exchange, the government soldiers receive the General’s son, but Fan prevents the bandits from releasing their leader. As the government soldiers march the bandit leader back to prison, the bandits attack the procession. Golden Swallow, leading her female warriors, fights off the bandits. The evil abbot forces a showdown with Fan Tai Pei.

And the rest, as they say, is history… Thomas DiSanto