Come Drink with Me
Director: King Hu
Cast: Cheng Pei-Pei, Yue Hua
Come Drink with Me was made in 1966. It was King Hu's first attempt at Wuxia genre, as well as Cheng Pei-pei and Yue Hua's debut in a Wuxia movie. Before the release of this film, Wuxia was not a popular genre in Hong Kong. In some senses, it is not inappropriate to say that Come Drink with Me was the first movie to arouse the attention of Hong Kong audience to new style Wuxia film. King Hu was also known as a synonym of Wuxia genre later.
The story begins with the kidnap of a government official by the notorious "Five Tigers". In response to this case, Golden Swallow (Cheng Pei-pei), the sister of the government official, starts her rescue mission. Being pure and inexperienced, she does not know that she is stepping into a trap that is set up by the "Five Tigers". Luckily, she comes across a mysterious drunk man (Yue Hua) who appears to be a skillful and profound martial arts master. The two of them join force and fight off the enemies eventually. If we see it from our perspective in the 21st century, this story may not seem very intricate or appealing, as most of us have already seen too many Wuxia movies with a similar plot device before, but try to imagine, this movie was the first of their kind in the 1960s when nobody has handled a Wuxia story in this way before, so what Hu did was just like the reinvention of the kung fu genre by Bruce Lee in the 1970s. It's no wonder why it could become a such smash hit at that time and the impact was so huge that after this movie, Wuxia genre has become one of the most popular types of movie in Hong Kong for a long time.
As there are already too many books and research materials about director King Hu and his movies, I am not planning to spend too much time to talk about all the technical information I know about him. I would rather like to share some of my personal response after seeing this movie. To me, one of the most impressive aspects of King Hu's movie is his aesthetic consideration. Unlike many other Hong Kong movies at that time, his compositions are always carefully constructed. For instance, when Golden Swallow first appears in the beginning of the film, the background of the small town looks extremely sophisticated, even though this setting only appears once in the movie. Later in the movie, scenes like the buddhist temple and the small hut of Fan Dabei are also elaborate. You can feel the attention to details obviously. In addition to the compositions, camera work is also highly appreciated. The consideration of camera angle is not merely for the sake of storytelling, there is also an unique and significant artistic touch.
Aesthetic consideration is not limited to composition or camera work only, the action choreography is also very elegant. It is very different from any hardcore action movies we see today in which a lot of blood is shed, Hu's fight scenes are very exquisite and acrobatic. The movements of the actors are not fast or authentic, in some senses, they are more like dancing than fighting. To me, Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon is the most devoted successor of King Hu's Wuxia film that captures Hu's spirit wholeheartedly. No matter the aesthetic consideration of the settings or the elegant and acrobatic fight scenes, everything is just evolved from Hu's films.
If you want to learn about renowned master King Hu's world of Wuxia, Come Drink with Me is no doubt a good place to start. The digitally remastered DVD/VCD released by Celestial Pictures/IVL is excellent, the picture and sound qualities are so good that it's not hard to believe if someone says this is a brand new movie produced this year. The DVD also comes with some special features like trailers and interviews. Unfortunately, the interviews have no subtitles, if you don't speak English, you may not be able to enjoy any of them.
Cool guy(s) - Cheng Pei-pei
Reviewed by: Kantorates