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Drunken Tai-Chi (1984) Donnie Yen, Lydia Shum Tin-Ha, Yeung Cheung-Yan, Wong Tao

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Drunken Tai Chi    (1984)

a.k.a Drunken Tai Chi Master

Fight Choreography- The Yuen Clan

Directed By- Yeun Wo-Ping

Starring- Donnie Yen, Lydia Shum Tin-Ha, Yuen Cheung-Yan, Yeun Yat-Choh, Wong Tao, Lee Kwan, Yeun Shun-Yi.

Plot Synopsis- Spoiled rich kid Ching Do(Donnie Yen) leads an ideal and sheltered life. That is, until he and his brother Yu Ping(Yeun Yat-Choh), send the local bad-guy's scheming son Ta Sha(Mandy Cha Chi-Man), into an insane stupor. When a fireworks prank goes wrong. Ta Sha's father vows to get even with not just the two brothers, but their whole family. He then hires the killing talents, of the mute assassin with a big heart, Iron Steel(Yeun Shun-Yi). Will Ching Do's excellent fighting skills prevail?, or will he and his family become the latest victims of the Iron Steel killer?.

 

 

"You know what happens when I light it up?, you become a Roman Candle"

 

 "You know you could never defeat me, my arms are bigger than yours, and I'm bigger down there" - Points to opponents crotch.

 

Quote

Despite their name, Roman candles did not originate in Ancient Rome, or in Italy. Rather, they originated in China.

A Roman candle is a traditional type of firework that ejects one or more stars or exploding shells. Roman candles come in a variety of sizes, from 6 mm (1/4") diameter for consumers, up to 8 cm (3") diameter in professional fireworks displays.

 

 

 

Donnie Yen kicks, leaps and somersault’s, and rides his way onto the big screen, in his acting debut. Unlike many actors from the far East, Yen never had to work his way up, from stuntman, to leading man. That’s no slight on Asia's current biggest action star, the guy had spent year's learning the fighting arts, from his mother Madame Bow Sin-Mark. Under a strict, physically, demanding regime, that must have been very similar. To the routines Sammo Hung and his classmates went through, at the Peking Opera school?. He had also clearly spent many hours in the gym, building up a leading star look. That was expected back in the mid-80's. He was also well versed in Tai Chi, Taekwondo and Wushu, by the time he first met creative Martial Arts genius, Yuen Wo-Ping. A man who needs no introduction to long term fans.

Yuen Wo-Ping directs, and co-wrote the script with his brothers. The same team, behind the movies highly kinetic dust-ups and comedy hi-jinks. His three equally talented bothers can all be seen among the cast, in supporting roles. Wo-Ping had really been on a creative role as director, since his first collaboration with Jackie Chan, way back in 1978. Many fans credit Drunken Tai Chi, as the swan song, to the Old-School movie making era. Was this truly the last film of its kind?, or do other mid-80's fight flicks deserve the title too?. I've simply not viewed enough Asian cinema, from this particular period to really comment.  Do fans know of any other films from this period of time?, that also deserve this title?. It usually a gradual process, of one era merging into another, with no one big moment of change, we can point our fingers at being the cut-off point.

"Their, going to be raw chicken tonight"

The film might start off with Yen's character, performing Tai-Chi movements, in-front of a familiar red back-drop. Yet the visual and editing style used, are much fresher to the eye. This film, might not be as wild as the Yuen Clans Shaolin Drunkard, and The Miracle Fighter's, yet it still sits nicely alongside those films. Movies, which were clearly inspired by the late 70's Kung Fu classics. Yet, they all had a visual style, which was very Avante-Garde for the early 1980's. They all share the same overly creative set pieces, and amped up manic pace. When Donnie Yen bursts onto the screen, he's riding a very trendy looking 1980s BMX bike. A nod to BMX Bandits and the finale of E.T?, both of which came out not long before this movie.

Historical inaccuracies aside, Yen and his body double, show off some impressive moves on the push bike. Within the first ten-minutes of the run time, Donnie proves he's got what it takes to be a big Martial Arts star. Watching this early role for the first time, also reminded me of just how good a kicker he is. Watching a recent marathon of the Ip Man movies, has left me forgetting about his Tae Kwon-Do background. He really makes for a great screen kicker, with stylish, far reaching, and overly extended boot-work. His early short comedy bust up with Mandy Chan Chi-Man, is excellent showcase for his all his talents. With some Western boxing influence to be seen too, when he hits Chi with a flurry of punches.

"Do you think I'm a vacuum cleaner?"

Growing up, we probably all got exposed to advertisements, warning us about the dangers of mis-using fire-works. Well this movie features an extended sequence, which really fits that bill. When Ta-Sha and his three simpleton lackeys, try to get even with Ching Do. They rig up some firework artillery. With enough fire-works to stage a Chinese New Year Celebration, for decades to come. It's a sequence you just wouldn’t get in a movie today, without the use of green screen. It's like a live action cartoon skit, from the old Looney Tunes series. Ta Sha might not be smart, but he's tougher than the Wily Coyote. Which goes with the old mantra, if you are going to be dumb, you gotta be tough. When the fireworks stunt backfires, leaving Sha mentally burnt out. His father vows to wipe out his rival’s family entirely. Which in most movies/circumstance would be a little OTT. However, this is the Martial World after all, and what kind of man doesn’t defend his sons honour?. However questionable it might be.

It's not unusual, for films of this type, to have really dark moments. Set in stark contrast to the much lighter slapstick comedy. Some might find the comedy grating, offensive, funny or just plain odd. I'm still not sure what the dried up grape licking scene was about, with Lee Kwan & Yuen Yat-Choh?. We have to wait not until around the forty-five, minute mark, until we get to see some Tai-Chi. With an Old Master played by Yuen Cheung-Yan, who makes his living as a puppeteer. Both he and his wife, played excellently by the late Hong Kong TVB presenter/actress Lydia Shum Tin-Ha. The couple have a great on-screen chemistry together. Ashamedly, I've only viewed this one performance of hers. Just one of 176 feature film roles for the actress. The on-screen pair take in Ching Do and teach him the gentle yet powerful art of Tai Chi.

"I could move a thousand pounds, with four ounces"

Now let’s take a look at the finale, which certainly delivers in terms of solid shape heavy action. The Yuen Can delivered yet again, with no one member being credited for the comedic screen combat. This production features some of the best examples of grounded action. Merged with the move enhancing wire work, that Yuen Wo-Ping would become known for. Perhaps the early eighties, was the zenith of the Yeun Clan highly original approach?. First up our hero must face Wong Tao's villainous vengeful father. Tao might not get much screen time, but he nearly steals the show when he does. He gets to showcase some great kicking techniques in his final scene. Donnie Yen proves he's no stranger to a Chain Whip. Using it to strike out at his opponent, as he manipulates the steel chain with ease.

Iron Steel smashes through fence-  "Who the hell do you think you are, cant you use a gate?"

"That’s the crazy man who beat me up"

Among all the flowery wire-work and comedy routines. There are some really substantial empty hand exchanges, in particular between Yen and Yuen Shun-Yi's super villain. Iron Steel has hands, that give you the impression he's been brick laying since childhood. When his stylish black velvet gloves come off, he's means business. You know he a tough nut, because he puts together a wooden rocking chair. Without the use of a hammer, instead his bare palms and forehead, knocking the long nails into place. Yeah despite being a full-time  assassin Yuen Shun-Yi’s character is also a doting father. Just another one of the many black and white contrasts, featured through-out the run time.

Drunken Tai Chi, is a must see. If you are a fan of Donnie Yen or The Yuen Clan's extensive list of motion picture work. This was Donnie first collaboration with the gang. Far from perfect, by no means, the story is very typical. The direction is a little weak at times. We get some of the usual old tropes thrown in too. Such as the scene featuring a Bolo Yeung clone, played by Huang Gen-Wei(Duel with The Devils). There's just so much life and energy going into the performance's, not to mention a big healthy dose of Hong Kong style creativity. That you can help but over-look the negatives here. The scene with Ching-Do trying to escape from Iron Steel's big hamster wheel of death. Is just one of many visually striking moments, that stays with you. Then there's Donnie Yen superb human puppet scene. Where he even shows off some break-dancing moves, to sounds of an instrumental version of The Champ's Tequila. Did he learn these movement's during his time in New York?.

 

Can anyone confirm, if the following IMDB trivia is correct?.

 

Quote

The Taiwanese print features an alternate opening involving chickens instead of bikes, and three additional scenes --- including an introductory scene with Chan and Yu Ping's father and Ta Sha's father, a scene where Chan tricks a father and his son in order to get food, and an extended fight scene featuring the Puppeteer --- not present on the Hong Kong print

 

 

 

Edited by DragonClaws

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Yes, I can confirm it since I used to have an Eastern Heroes edition (the official EH edition only had the alternate opening as extra) that had those deleted scenes (I got it from ADC). Actually, I was the one who added that information on the trivia section. 😁

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Aside from the inane comedy aspects of the film, I've always really dug this movie. Been meaning to go back and watch it again. It's been a quite a while since I've seen it.

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I love Yuen Cheung-Yan's look in the film. Reminded me of a human-chipmunk hybrid and the late Lydia Shum is fun to watch as his wife.

$YuenCheungYan-DrunkenTaiChi040_42e3a5bf

drunkentaichi-still.jpg?w=720

 

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2 hours ago, AlbertV said:

I love Yuen Cheung-Yan's look in the film. Reminded me of a human-chipmunk hybrid

 

That guy can move, and he appears to play a very similar character in Shaolin Drunkard, at least in appearance.

 

8 hours ago, Drunken Monk said:

I've always felt that this one was the weakest of the Yuen Clan's wacky 80's era. I plan on re-watching them all soon.

 

It's probably not the most wacky/inventive, in terms of crazy intricate visual's, when compared to some of the Yuen Clans other 80's work. Yet I feel it deserves to sit alongside those films, based on its own merits.

 

8 hours ago, ShaOW!linDude said:

Aside from the inane comedy aspects of the film, I've always really dug this movie. Been meaning to go back and watch it again. It's been a quite a while since I've seen it.

 

Comedy doesnt always translate very well, and it comes in thick heavy doses. Donnie Yen's pretty much playing the same character Jackie Chan does in Dragon Lord. Later becoming  a super lean mean fighting machine, just in time for the finale.

 

22 hours ago, DiP said:

Yes, I can confirm it since I used to have an Eastern Heroes edition (the official EH edition only had the alternate opening as extra) that had those deleted scenes (I got it from ADC). Actually, I was the one who added that information on the trivia section. 😁

 

Thankyou @DiP, I caught the MllCreek release, not full-screen, but it still look cropped?. Print looked better than most in thos reeases, but it's a far cry from what it should look like. Recall the Eastern Heroes DVD coming at, around the time Donnie Yen first trie to break into the U.S market. With roles in Shanghai Knights and Blade 2. SK's was the first time I'd actually watched him in a movie. Not really the best introduction to his abiities. He was always heavy promoted in IMPACT Magazine, so I read a lot about DY, before even seeing him in film's.

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23 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

Unlike many actors from the far East, Yen never had to work his way up, from stuntman, to leading man. 

His filmography suggested that his first gig was as a stuntman on Miracle Fighters, but then it was as a leading man. Jet Li was the leading man on his first film.

23 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

It's not unusual, for films of this type, to have really dark moments. Set in stark contrast to the much lighter slapstick comedy. Some might find the comedy grating, offensive, funny or just plain odd.

There's a great review of this by El Santo of 1000 Misspent Hours and Counting, in which he comments that the direction the story takes (the murder of Yen's family, the fact that Donnie saves Iron Steel's son and still has to deal with him, the fact that the kid loses his father at the end) suggests a dark film, or at least a very dark comedy, but the film is downright sunny for most of the running time.

8 hours ago, Drunken Monk said:

I've always felt that this one was the weakest of the Yuen Clan's wacky 80's era. I plan on re-watching them all soon.

To me this is a synthesis of everything they were doing from Drunken Master onward. In broad strokes, the plot is the same as Drunken Master. Yuen Cheung-Yan is playing the same guy he did in the ...Drunkard films, while Shun-Yee is essentially the villain he played in Dreadnaught. I think this was better than Young Taoism Fighter by far.

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On 3/29/2019 at 9:19 PM, DrNgor said:

His filmography suggested that his first gig was as a stuntman on Miracle Fighters, but then it was as a leading man. Jet Li was the leading man on his first film.

 

I dont know abut him being a stuntman in Miracle Fighters?. Even if he was, it not the same as spending year's as stuntman. Working up from minor bit parts and lesser stunts.

 

On 3/29/2019 at 9:19 PM, DrNgor said:

the fact that Donnie saves Iron Steel's son and still has to deal with him, the fact that the kid loses his father at the end) suggests a dark film, or at least a very dark comedy, but the film is downright sunny for most of the running time.

 

The dubbing certianly made it even lighter in tone, when I watched it. There's clearly a much darker film in there, just look at how Ching Do family meet their end.

 

 

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10 hours ago, DragonClaws said:

I dont know abut him being a stuntman in Miracle Fighters?. Even if he was

Do you doubt my wisdom?

https://web.archive.org/web/20020811053223/http://www.donnieyen.com/filmmiracle.htm

His website says Miracle Fighters 2 (which would be Shaolin Drunkard), but the year suggests the first one. The IMDB also says the first one. The HKMDB doesn't mention anything prior to Drunken Tai Chi.

Edited by DrNgor

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19 hours ago, DrNgor said:

Do you doubt my wisdom?

 

Nope, but he never had to endure getting picked out from the crowd, when trying to get work in film's. A lot of leading men and women before him, had to earn their starring role. With year's of playing extra's bit part's. Not that Donnie Yen hadnt earned the right to star in his own film. The Yuen brothers would not have put their trust in just anybody. How good do you have to be to impress those guys?.

 

I noticed that HKMDB had no listing for his earlier work on Miracle Fighter's, thanks for the correction/information @DrNgor.

 

Edited by DragonClaws

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Saw this movie many years ago and remember hating it but after reading the review might give it another try.if I can find my old vhs tape with it on that is👍

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14 hours ago, Tex Killer said:

Hkcinemagic lists him as stuntman in Taoism Drunkard...

 

http://www.hkcinemagic.com/en/people.asp?id=178

 

Thanks for that @Tex Killer.

 

 

7 hours ago, OpiumKungFuCracker said:

You can tell this was one of his best films cause he post about it even though the movie is 100 years old

 

Yeah, it's clearly not one of those movies he'd rather forget about.

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On 3/29/2019 at 6:25 PM, AlbertV said:

I love Yuen Cheung-Yan's look in the film. Reminded me of a human-chipmunk hybrid and the late Lydia Shum is fun to watch as his wife.

Lol, I was in the same boat.  I saw this for the first time recently.  I dug it, had me smiling throughout.  Lydia is great, my first time seeing her.

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I watched Drunken Tai Chi on Netflix a while ago. It was in Mandarin with English subs, and opened with Donnie Yen on a red background doing shapes. I remember this version being remastered but very jittery to watch, like it was filmed at a slower framerate. I haven't seen any other versions. I liked it, it was a good movie. Donnie's character is a right prick though.

Edited by TheKungFuRobber

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On 5/18/2019 at 4:54 PM, TheKungFuRobber said:

I watched Drunken Tai Chi on Netflix a while ago. It was in Mandarin with English subs, and opened with Donnie Yen on a red background doing shapes. I remember this version being remastered but very jittery to watch, like it was filmed at a slower framerate. I haven't seen any other versions. I liked it, it was a good movie. Donnie's character is a right prick though.

 

Agreed, Yen's character evnetually learn the erros of his ways. Yet, for the first half hour he's always getting his kicks by showng up his adopted brother.

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