Hong Kong Cinema

Drunken Master 3

  • Made: 1994
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: Region 2 PAL
  • Release Date: 25 Apr 2005
  • Company: Optimum Asia
  • Length: 92 minutes
  • Picture: Anamorphic 1.78:1 Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese DD (2.0) with Subtitles
  • Extras: None
  • Classification: 12


Lau Kar Leung


Willie Chi, Andy Lau, Adam Cheng, Gordon Liu, Lau Kar Leung, Simon Yam, Michelle Reis

Drunken Master 3 was hurriedly produced in 1994 after director Lau Kar Leung fell out with Jackie Chan during the filming of the spectacular Drunken Master 2. This rushed effort casts Willie Chi as the legendary Wong Fei-Hung. Chi had previously starred in Ringo Lam's haunting Burning Paradise, but it would seem that his poor reception in Drunken Master 3 accelerated his departure from the world of Hong Kong Cinema. Jackie Chan's completed Drunken Master sequel amazed fans and critics alike, hauling in over HK $40m at the box office. By comparison, Drunken Master 3 took just over HK $7m during its release. Perhaps this was a poor return for a cast including Andy Lau, Adam Cheng, Gordon Liu, Simon Yam and Michelle Reis - but what went wrong?


The meandering plot serves as a major distraction during Drunken Master 3. The main thread is that Emperor-to-be, Yuen Shih-Kai, needs to be given a Jade Ring by his prospective bride, Princess Sum Yu (Michelle Reis). The Princess and revolutionary Yueng Kwun (Andy Lau) are taken into the care of Doctor Wong Kei-Ying (Adam Cheng). At the famous doctor's Po Chi Lam clinic lives his son, Wong Fei Hung (Willie Chi). This mischievous scallywag ends up on the run with Sum Yu and Yueng Kwun. Hot on their heels are the White Lotus Sect, a camp Simon Yam and the menacing Governor Li (Gordon Liu). As you might has guessed, this all leads to one big showdown, but not before Lau Kar Leung has made his required cameo in order to teach Wong Fei-Hung the secrets of Drunken Boxing!


There are plenty of grumbles to have about this film. If you can overlook the pseudo history and fragmented character development, there are the rudimentary basics of a Lau Kar Leung kung fu comedy. Lau Kar Leung developed a strong preference for acrobatic and youthful leads after the success of his directorial debut Spiritual Boxer. Names include Wong Yue, Hsaio Ho and Fu Sheng. This trend followed into his nineties productions by working with Chin Kar-Lok in Operation Scorpio, Jackie Chan in DM2 and finally Willie Chi in DM3 (see also Jacky Wu in Drunken Monkey). However, it was only with Jackie Chan that Leung got close to recapturing his form of the late seventies. Young and fresh leads can make exciting material, such as Jet Li in Shaolin Temple and Donnie Yen in Drunken Tai Chi. However, since leaving Shaw Brothers, Leung has failed to launch a new star. In Willie Chi, we have the weakest incarnation of Wong Fei-Hung. In a telling statement, the disc graphics do not even include him on the montage, yet his is meant to be the main character! In the rest of the cast we have some exceptional actors and fighters, but somehow this strong cast fails to deliver anything of note.

What remains perplexing to the viewer is the style of action. After falling out with Jackie Chan over the use of wires, Leung set out to produce a more authentic entry in the Drunken Master series. However, the action in DM3 includes some painfully obvious wire tricks. Some of the actual scenes are lifted from DM2, but not done half as well. But worst of all, there is hardly any decent Drunken Boxing! Willie Chi plays an empty and inconspicuous Wong Fei Hung. His scuffle with Simon Yam leads to him using Goddess Ho's Drunken Boxing, this really is as bad as it sounds. His embarrassing end fight involves an abacus being turned into a skateboard, against an unknown gwailo who is just out of school (and cannot fight). The final fight between all the other characters within the church is an engaging scuffle and saves the film from entire disaster. Lau Kar Leung, Andy Lau and Adam Cheng get down to some spectacular weapons fighting. This showdown is preceded with a dire Halloween party, similarly ineffective as the masquerade ball in My Young Auntie. It is such as shame that all the good points are undermined by lazy scriptwriting, dreadful acting and a terrible soundtrack.


The print lacks the expected clarity that has previously emerged on the Optimum Asia label (although I do not remember my region 3 version being up to much either). The DD2.0 Cantonese audio track is full of cracks and pops, but the removable subtitles are ok. The DVD lacks any extras of note.


Drunken Master 3 is a huge disappointment, but sadly predictable. Lacking the enigmatic presence of Jackie Chan, Lau Kar Leung rushes into this unremarkable entry in the Drunken Master series. Without a script or plot worth mentioning this star-studded film can only fall back on its action. Fortunately, there are a few memorable fight scenes. The main issue is the painful absence of a character worthy to be called the Drunken Master!