Starring : Cheng Pei Pei , Yueh Hua , Chan Hung-Lit
Directed By : King Hu
Copyright© 1966 Shaw Brothers
Spring of Shaw Season Review – Film no' 8
Come Drink with Me -1966
Over the years many films have been labelled as the best martial arts film ever made or the greatest or most important martial arts film ever by various critics the world over in various publications.
Truth is no one film can be the all and end all of any genre , why? because technique moves on and with one new fresh idea comes another. But over the years have films really bettered their earlier counterparts , in all honesty I don't think so.
If you said to any budding martial arts fan what's the greatest Martial Arts film , the answer your get would depend on that persons age.
Some one in their twenties or even thirties may say Ong Bak or Ip Man to a aficionado who views films from all decades and someone older many might say Enter the Dragon , though I thought all of Bruce's other films where better then ''Enter the Dragon'' ( of course bar the unfinished Game of Death) . In all honesty it's hard to say this is the best ,this is the greatest .
What we have to look at is what films in whatever genre have moved that genre on in the film making process. Thus making it more realistic ,or exciting to watch in the case of Martial arts/ Wuxia films.
Now the 1966 film by King Hu is one of these genre defining films. But unlike '' Enter the Dragon '', Seven Samurai '' or say Drunken Master .. ''Come Drink with Me'' may not be well known to many martial art film fans ,especially if they are a casual fan and not a obsessive lunatic that must see every film ever made within a certain genre ( yep that's me folks ,i do like a fight film) , King Hu's film actually reinvented the way Hong Kong martial arts films where filmed and led the way for the Shaw Brothers Studio to produce some of the best ever martial arts films of the 70's and 80's .
Prior to Come Drink with Me most martial art or Wuxia (swordplay films) where based on the old Peking Opera plays, there movements where more dance like ,the films where more costume dramas with intertwined action .
King Hu turned this all on it's head, much like Akira Kurosawa did for the Samurai film in the 50's.
By casting a a ballet dancer by the name of Cheng Pei Pei King Hu new it would be easy to get her to perform the moves needed for fighting and if your a martial artist your know that being relaxed and having some type of rhythm helps a lot in performing such moves. Also being a Ballet dancer Cheng Pei Pei was flexible ,another must bonus.
The films story is quite simple,basically involving the kidnapping of a government official by a gang of bandits led by the Jade Faced Tiger ( Chan Hung-lit) , Jade Face wants the release of his leader in exchange for the official.
There only concern is if the authorities send the mysterious Golden Swallow ( Cheng Pei Pei) to intervene , which of course they do , thing is Golden Swallow is also the sister of the kidnapped man ,something the kidnappers did not bargain for.
A lot of the beginning of the film takes place at a local Inn where Golden Swallow stays while she deals with the bandits who initially try and kill her to no avail.
Also on the scene is a bumbling Drunk who gets in the way of the proceedings ,but is actually out to help Golden Swallow.
The bandits are held up in a local Temple run by a evil abbot . Even still the Jade Faced Tiger is persistent and continues to try and have Golden Swallow Killed. . With a trap set they think they have their chance ,only to be out foxed by our mysterious Drunk.
The story might not be that complex and the film runs at a moderate ninety minutes there about.
But where Come Drink with Me '' shines is in it's direction and framing ,remember this is 1966 and what we have here is quite intricate fight scenes using various weapons ,of note which where real though not live you could still stab or cut someone with end of a sword or Knife or spear. . Being hit with a heavy metal sword I'm sure was not fun.
Cheng Pei Pei in a interview talks about the fight with Chan Hing-lit ( Jade Faced Tiger) ,she actually cuts his head for real with her short sword. ,hey it's in the film you see it happen.
The film starred some expert martial art teachers who also where the teachers for the other stars .like Simon Yuen and Han Ying-Chieh, both played henchmen for the Jade Faced Tiger.
King Hu's vision for the film was magnificent with great locals of and on set , Cheng Pei Pei's fluidity in her moves make the fight scenes flow well and she shows some great power in what was her first role in a martial arts film. .
Yueh Hua who portrays the drunk Fan Da Pei had trained for a whole year in acting,martial arts and Peking style opera within the Shaw Brothers Studio complex. He had previously portrayed the Monkey King in a couple of films and was shooting another Monkey film at the same time he was filming his role with ''Come Drink with Me''
Though not credited ,action star Jackie Chan is one of the small children who follow the Drunk around begging for money and food by singing. , though previously Cheng Pei Pei had said he was not there in another interview she says here he might have been ,but with so many kids would not know for sure.
But the film is listed as one of his roles on Jackie's official site.
Also Yueh Hua in the interview says about the Jackie Chan connection and that Jackie gave him a small role in Rumble in the Bronx years later. So now when you watch the film your have to try and spot one of the biggest action stars of the past thirty years.
All in all I really enjoyed ''Come Drink with Me'' because of the complex fighting techniques on show and the great acting from Cheng Pei Pei and Yueh Hua , What's more you can see the influence the film had on 2000 film ''Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'' a film which Cheng Pei Pei starred as the villain Jade Fox.
There's one scene where Golden Swallow is after the bandits who are out to kill her ,she leaps across the rooftops of the Inn ,it reminded me straight away of Michelle Yeoh fighting Zhang Ziyi in a courtyard as they leap across the tiles.
Of note as well King Hu had cast Cheng Pei Pei as the only female in the film, but according to Cheng Pei Pei Shaw Brothers where not happy with that and that's why you see in the final about ten females as guards all dressed in matching outfits.
King Hu's films I feel don't always get the credit they deserve , maybe because there not maybe as widely available as maybe Kurosawa's works or other directors who had a larger output of films.
King Hu actually left Shaw Brothers after the film due to the Shaw's control they enforced on their directors and films.
King Hu's next film was Chinese Taiwanese production ''Dragon Gate Inn '' who he had been in talks with Cheng Pei Pei to star in as the lead , the film is a huge landmark film which has many fans , just a shame that Shaw Brothers would not release Cheng Pei Pei to star in the film as she was under contract to Shaw's for like another four years.
It's crazy when you think about it , King Hu redefined a genre for the Shaw Brothers Studio and gave them a huge hit , they took what they had learnt and used it their new films like 1967 One Armed Swordsman and a sequel to Come Drink with Me in 1968 ,entitled ''Golden Swallow '' which also starred Jimmy Wang Yu in the lead as well .
Where be looking at more of King Hu's work in the year , starting with Dragon Gate Inn and A Touch of Zen in it's complete three hour version. . And if I can acquire them , The Fate of Lee Kwan and ''The Valiant Ones'' .
But your be fool to miss Come Drink with Me which stars the true first lady of Martial arts cinema , Cheng Pei Pei.
Score out of Ten = 10
Review Date – May 2nd 2014
Reviewed By : Sertes Nake
|Directed by||King Hu|
|Produced by||Run Run Shaw|
|Written by|| |
|Music by|| |
Eddie H. Wang
|Editing by||Chiang Hsing-lung|
|Studio||Shaw Brothers Studio|
|Distributed by||Shaw Brothers Studio|
|Release dates|| |
7 April 1966
|Running time||91 minutes|
Main Cast and Characters
Cheng Pei-pei as Golden Swallow
Yueh Hua as Fan Da-pei / Drunken Knight
Chan Hung-lit as Jade Faced Tiger
Lee Wan-chung as Smiling Tiger Tsu Kan
Yeung Chi-hing as Abbot Liao Kung
Shum Lo as Jade Faced Tiger's henchman
Han Ying-chieh as Jade Faced Tiger's henchman
Fung Ngai as Jade Faced Tiger's henchman
Simon Yuen as Jade Faced Tiger's henchman
Ku Feng as Jade Faced Tiger's henchman