Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Come Drink with Me (1966)

Chinese title: The Great Drunken Xia (大醉俠).

Not a bad wuxia movie in itself. But what I find interesting because it marks the 4 SB's artistic developments.

Come Drink with Me (1964)1. Sadly, or gladly, the last SB film based in olden days that involved traditional singing - as far as I know. There're only 3 brief singing in this movie. Yueh Hua would have to bury his singing talents after this film. And Huangmexi was on its way out by now.

2. The end of the old school wuxia where swordsmen remain grounded. This may not the the very last movie for old school martial arts, but wire-fu or fly-fu took off not long after this movie in late 1960s.

3. The fight scenes, which used to emulate that of the stage opra, tend to be theatrical rather than realistic. This was the 1st such attempt of realism was applied to wuxia. Of course, it looks clumsy by today's standard after nearly half a century of improvements and refinements. The demise in singing also matched the rise in realism. People sings in opera, but not in real life. And in this movie, The Great Drunken Swordsman sings professionally (our hero's job would be best described as a travelling minstrel or troubadour), rather than as part of the art form like Huangmei Opera films.

4. Most importantly, this is the 1st SB's, therefore HK's, nuxia flick. Nuxia is wuxia featuring a swordswoman as a lead, played by Cheng Pei-pei. It's true that nuxia film existed before this, but this is the most well known and blazed a new path for the HK actresses in wuxia. It started the nuxia trend that lasted for 5 or 6 years.

Come Drink with Me (1964)
 
Ballet background was 1 of the factors why Cheng Pei-pei got the part, which made her action sequences appeared more like dacing. After all they don't call choreography for martial arts direction for no reason. Since performers don't actually hit one another, they're by definition dancing. Some dances - like break dance, and capoeira - looks more like martial arts than your traditional dances. They blur the line between dancing and martial arts.

Yueh Hua played the role to Cheng Pei-pei in this movie reminiscent of the relationship between Hannibal Lector and Agent Starling in Silence of the Lamb (of course, the Yueh Hua character never eats human liver in this movie no matter how drunk he gets. Chicken liver is another matter). It's the way a master, poses as a mysterious figure, guides a female student from a distance and behind the scene. It isn't a formal mentor-student relationship.

It's no secret that Ang Lee asked her to play the role of Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger as it's a movie that has a feminist message.

This is a landmark picture in more ways than 1. And made King Hu known to the international audience.

This film is included in my IMDB movie list.

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