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Shaolin Drunken Monk
(aka The Drunken Monk, 36 Chambers Of Shaolin: The Final Confrontation)
1982; directed by Ulysses Au-Yueng

Even though it actually features a by-the-numbers plot and very little in the way of drunken boxing, Shaolin Drunken Monk ends up being a pretty fun, if unspectacular, old-school romp that should please aficionados of the genre, especially those that are big fans of Gordon Liu. More casual viewers might want to skip this one, though.

The story is your basic "revenge via way of kung fu" stuff favored by films of this type. Gordon Liu plays Lao Chung, whose parents were killed by Wong Kin Chung (Eagle Han Ying), a jealous student who wanted to take over their school. Left for dead, Lao Chung trains in the wilderness with a sifu that teaches him drunken boxing for years, until he is ready to take retribution for his mother and father.

There isn't much to differentiate this film for dozens and dozens of similar ones. It spends way too much time in the exposition scenes, most of which are just awfully boring, because honestly, the viewer ends up not really giving a rip about the story since it is so generic. Shaolin Drunken Monk is also an incredibly cheap production. The movie is over-run with gaffes like visible wires during stunts, and apparently, the producers couldn't even afford a Bic, since Gordon Liu's trademark shaved head can't seem to stay the same length from scene to scene.

But Shaolin Drunken Monk is saved by its' fight scenes. Helmed by Gordon Liu's half-brother, Liu Chia-Liang (Lau Kar-Leung), there's a nice mix of styles and weapons presented here, and Gordon and the other actors pull off the moves well. The fights aren't so good as to elevate the movie much above the realm of the average, but they do up the quotient enough that it's worth checking this out if you're a tried-and-true old-school fan.


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