Drunken Master: A Mixed Moral Message

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According to our Scopo-Meter, we check the following in Drunken Master:

Category Out Of 5

FilmScopes thank the creators of the film for acknowledging that promoting heavy drinking is not an option and they made it very clear by making a sequence that rectifies the mistake made in its predecessor. 


Drunken Master, a 1978 martial arts film can be argued to be one of the many successful films that have defined Jackie Chan as an actor and stunt performer. The film itself has a lot of controversy with the message it sends across to its viewers.

The movie is about Wong Fei-hung, a naughty and sloppy young man who picks up the martial art of “drunken boxing” from Beggar So, an acquaintance of his father’s.

While Chan’s comedic performance and the film’s impressive fight sequences are its two most notable attributes, it also has a conflicted moral message that can be seen in the following ways:


The Good


Jackie Chan in Drunken Master
Wong Fei-hung training his balance and patience


Drunken Master’s emphasis on the value of discipline and perseverance in martial arts is one of its good aspects. Wong Fei-hung develops his fighting abilities throughout the movie by practicing and refining his techniques.

The movie also emphasizes the value of loyalty and respect, with Wong Fei-hung standing up for his loved ones and fighting against injustice.


The Bad


A cross-eyed man holding a cup of alcohol in his hand
Wong Fei-hung being drunk


However, there are some troublesome aspects of Drunken Master as well. One illustration is the depiction of drinking alcohol as a way to build stamina and combat skills. The movie’s portrayal of drunken boxing is based on a legitimate martial art form, but the way it is portrayed could be interpreted as glorifying excessive drinking or even alcoholism.

The movie also contains instances of sexual harassment and misogyny, like when Wong Fei-hung grabs a woman’s breast during an inebriated boxing match.


Did You Know This About Drunken Master?


  • The 66-year-old Siu-Tin Yuen was doubled by his sons Cheung-Yan Yuen and Yuen Woo-Ping for many of the more physically demanding scenes.
  • During the filming of the sequel, Jackie Chan and the director Chia-Liang Liu often argued over how the combat scenes were to be planned and shot. Jackie eventually took over as the final fight’s director after the director left.
  • When Jang Lee Hwang (Jim Ti-Sam) kicked Jackie Chan in the head during the last combat sequence, Jackie Chan almost lost an eye. Hwang refused to perform more takes for the shot after he realized this.


The Mixed


A man chugging down two bottles of alcohol at the same time
Wong Fei-hung drinking a massive amount of alcohol


The way violence is portrayed in Drunken Master is another controversial element. The movie’s combat sequences are impressive and entertaining, but they also kind of glorify violence.

The movie implies that using physical violence to resolve disputes is acceptable because Wong Fei-hung frequently uses it to do so. The movie also contains sequences in which characters are gravely hurt or even killed, which some viewers may find disturbing.


Drunken Master II: The Rectification


A man striking a martial arts pose
Wong Fei-hung in Drunken Master II


As Jackie Chan looked back at the film he had helped create in 1978, he could not help but feel horrified at what he has encouraged. In an attempt to make the message of the sequel something that doesn’t destroy lives, the martial art actor took it upon himself to make sure he gets the message across that heavy drinking is not a solution or a power-up of any kind.

While Drunken Master gave the perspective that people fight better when they are intoxicated, its sequel gave a message that was quite the opposite. While including drunken boxing scenes within the film, it did not treat the act as an enhancement but more of a life stealer that provides strength. As the final fight of the sequel made Wong Fei-hung drink one last time, the film made it extremely clear that this is a sacrifice that would lead him to a darker life. For those who may not know, Drunken Master II ended with Wong Fei-hung having permanent brain damage as a result of his drunken fighting style.


Also Read: Everything Everywhere All At Once For Michelle Yeoh: 7 Oscars And 11 Nominations

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