Monday, March 10, 2008

The Shaolin Drunken Monk

The Action Mutant…
wishes the Swayz well!

The Shaolin Drunken Monk

review by Joe Burrows

Recently, Patrick Swayze was announced to have been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Of course, I thought, “No! Not the star of Roadhouse!” Though The Swayz has not always been on the current pop culture pipeline, I think everyone seems to remember that magical year of 1988 (even those that weren’t born or too young at the time; yes, I believe this). When people had the time of their life and weren’t going to be put in any corners! Hell, whenever I’m in a supermarket or in Lane Bryant trying to break a $20 bill for scratch offs, I stop in my tracks whenever “She’s Like the Wind” hits (much like that guy on Seinfeld did whenever he heard The Eagles’ "Desperado"). I’m sure the man decided he would be nice to the cancer until it was time…to not be nice! Good luck to you, Swayz. I (along with millions of others) know about cancer all too well. Remember, if the cancer calls you a cocksucker, call its mother a whore (is she?)!

The Plot, as it was:
Gordon Liu (Pai Mei from Kill Bill: Vol.2) is Lao Chung, a man looking for vengeance for a childhood wrong. A master from a neighboring sect took over his family’s school and kidnapped Lao and his mother when he was a kid. After mom offs herself, Lao is dumped in the river but recovered by a drunken despot. He teaches Lao the way of the “Drunken Fist” and Lao follows that up by kidnapping the master’s daughter (and his childhood friend). Along with the help of a drifter that had his arm amputated by the master’s gang, Lao uses the Drunken Fist style to seek revenge.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
There isn’t much new I can say about the Kung Fu genre that I haven’t already said. You pretty much know what to expect: kid is humiliated or has family or school wiped out by enemies…kid finds unorthodox master, who is most likely a drunk…drunk teaches him how to fight…kid becomes man and defeats his enemies. It’s been done hundreds of times by the same people and the formula rarely changes. The Shaolin Drunken Monk is one of these similar instances and it is old hat for the most part. Liu is one of the better Martial Arts actors and he is good when the film needs emotion. Everything else is mostly uniform, though the low budget does the film in within some respects (dodgy sound editing, bad dubbing, etc.). The viewer expects just about every scene that takes place, right down to the “Drunken” training montage (which is still pretty cool this time around). Of course, the draw for everyone is the fight scenes and they are pretty fun to behold. Chia Chiang Liu (brother of the star) creates some intricate battles amongst the old school stylings and the result is a passable Kung Fu film that goes by fairly quickly (at 83 minutes). Just don’t expect a Drunken Master in terms of magnitude or cinematic skill.

Body Count/Violence: 22. Everyone expects the fights and they come in abundance here. Lots of Kung Fu mastery along with some appendage chopping, strangling, spear impalement, stomping, hanging, stabbing, etc. However, there’s not much blood involved in all of this.

Sexuality/Nudity: The master’s daughter (sorry, IMDB does not list a full cast) shows some partially obscured nipple in a river bathing scene. She and Liu have a love scene that implies much but doesn’t show.

Language/Dialogue: Not much, if any at all.

How bad was it?:
There aren’t many reviews on the film but the few that I found are split on the results. Everyone seems to admit that Liu is the best thing about said film.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
There’s not much info on this movie, as a production company isn’t even listed in the credits. No box office or budget figures are available for this 1982 release an it is available on DVD under the Tai Seng label (release date was 3/13/01).

Film: **/*****
Entertainment value: ***/*****

Copyright 2008 The Action Mutant.

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