Drunken Master Returns: Wong Fei-hung Lives Again in New Film
Wong Fei-hung, the legendary 19th century martial artist and revolutionary-turned-folk hero, has been the inspiration for many movies and TV shows. More commonly known to westerners as the Drunken Master after the Jackie Chan films, Fei-hung has risen into the mythic stratosphere, and it’s hard to tell where the man ends and the legend begins. He famously named the martial arts techniques he pioneered (the “shadowless kick” being perhaps the most famous), and legend has it he used a wooden staff to defeat an army of thirty Japanese soldiers.
Now the Drunken Master prepares to grace the big screen again, as the studio behind Jet Li’s 2006 box office hit Fearless is finishing up a new action-epic depicting Fei-hung’s ascendancy into immortality. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Director Chow Hin Yeung Roy, who won an award for Best New Director at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards for his grim, squalid thriller Murderer in 2009, is at the helm of the project. It stars Peng Yuyan, with a screenplay written by Roy’s usual partner Christine To.
Roy’s last effort, 2012′s Nightfall, was an Oldboy-derived, but visually-assured thriller that further hinted at Roy’s potential. He began his career as an assistant director on Ang Lee’s controversial Lust, Caution in 2007. The film features unsimulated sex, which earned the film an NC-17 rating in America. The film earned Lee his second Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, but received polarized reviews from American critics.
Gordon Liu was the first actor to play Fei-hung in a popular film. Liu, best known to western audiences as the eccentric, beard-whipping master in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. II, played the role of the Drunken Master in 1976′s Challenge of the Masters. Two years later, Jackie Chan added a concentrated dose of pure fun to the Fei-hung myth with his breakout hit Drunken Master, a comedic amalgam of martial arts action and slapstick tomfoolery.