What to expect in a movie called “Drunken Monkey?” A wild Friday night at the zoo? Well, it turns out to be a martial arts film. The premise involves an uncle and his nephew (roughly of the same age) searching for a legendary kung fu master who performs the Monkeyish Fist. They have no idea the trouble they’re in for because the master does not want to be found. He’s hiding from some bad guys (in opium business) who want him dead. And you know, when there’s trouble, there are going to be some arms and legs violently flailing for sure. That’s how things get settled in China.

No one is going to watch this movie for its story. It’s all about the kung fu fights. I haven’t seen an old-school Hong Kong flick in a long time. It’s really refreshing. I like watching martial arts turned into a virile art of dance. The choreography is very rhythmic and dynamic. The action does not disappoint, but sometimes feels interminable. It goes on and on and on. For all the deadly kicks and blows, some characters are so invincible – they can’t just die.

The movie is really a showcase for Lau Kar Leung, who not only directs but also plays the kung fu master. At 66, the old man exhibits agility and robust strength to the tip of his fingers. The fighting style however is a bit bizarre. The actors do monkey poses and silly faces. Their secret weapon is wine. Come to think of it, that makes sense. Alcohol does make a monkey out of you. The film’s humor is a bit of an acquired taste. It plays its comedy too broad, too obvious, too silly, too gimmicky, but probably altogether harmless. “Drunken Monkey” is a passable entertainment. With its mixture of kick-ass action and Chinese goofiness, this cocktail of a movie is a punch. It might be more fun if you watch it inebriated. Have yourself a simian party.

Grade: B

Wu Jing Jason, Gordon Liu, Chi Kuan-Chun, Lau Wing Kin, Shannon Yao Yao, and Lau Kar Leung
Screenplay by
Pak Ling Li
Directed by
Lau Kar Leung
Rated R for some violence