Drunken Tai Chi (1984)

Posted in Reviews by - March 01, 2014
Drunken Tai Chi (1984)

Another wacky kung fu outing from the Yuen clan, this is a hyper kinetic fusion of ballsy slapstick and wild action. Offering little in the way of tai chi and even less drunkenness, Woo-ping’s film is essentially a showcase for the enormous talents of debuting star Donnie Yen. He plays a charming wushu rich kid learning the tai chi style from an alcoholic sifu and master of puppets (played by a bucktooth Yuen Cheung-yan). Donnie’s family is killed by an evil Wong Tao as compensation for turning his son into a basket case. He hires the crazy killer from Dreadnaught (played by Sunny Yuen) to do the dirty work. A complex character, the mute sadistic assassin enjoys inflicting mindless GBH on his victims as well as playing daddy to his own young son. In a brilliant introductory sequence, Sunny is seen manically crafting a wooden rocking horse using his head and his bare hands. Any sensitivity, however, is plundered when Donnie is vehemently hunted down, forced to take refuge with the old man and learn his self defense skills in the process. Built as a succession of set pieces, Drunken Tai Chi is a good/bad/mad kind of film, and clearly one of Donnie Yen’s greatest moments. In one magical scene, he dons puppet make up and starts body-popping like Michael Jackson followed by a thunderous applause. By the closing frames of this chicanery, you will want to do the same.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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