The Little Drunken Masters
AKA: Tipsy Chinese Boxing of the Little Children
Year of release: 1995
Genre: martial arts/comedy
Director: Stanley Siu
Action director: Yuen Cheung-Yan
Producer: Choi Chi-Laam
Writer: Matt Chow
Cinematography: Stephen Poon
Editing: Cheng Keung
Music: Sherman Chow
Stars: Carman Lee, Willie Chi, Hung Yan-Yan, Chan Cheuk, Shum Wai, Gabriel Wong
Rated II for violence
Movie Review Index
Based on the success of films like Jet Li's My Father is a Hero (aka The Enforcer), some Hong Kong producers -- being the wily, cash-grabbing people many of them are -- scrambled over themselves to get more "kiddie fu" films splashed across the jade screen. Not surprisingly, most of these releases came off as cheap low-budget attempts to squeeze a couple more coins from the audience, and 1995's The Little Drunken Masters is no exception.
So what's the setup here? Really, there isn't much of one. The Little Drunken Masters' story comes off like it was thrown down upon a soiled cocktail napkin after a particularly heinous Jack Daniels binge. Basically, Hung Yan-Yan portrays an evil official who wants to use the magical "little Buddha" for his own nefarious advantage, and Carman Lee and Willie Chi play the adults tasked with keeping eighteen moppets safe from his wrath. And for the next ninety minutes, hilarity ensues and the audience is thrilled by spectacular kung fu action.
At least that was supposedly the film-makers' intention. Instead, we're subjected to some very poor comedy. Well, it might not be poor if you think kids getting drunk, getting beat up, or talking about their bowel movements (or lack thereof) is prime comedic material. But for the rest of us, the attempts at hilarity will most likely come across as the cinematic equivalent of an icepick slowly and gingerly applied to one's temples over and over again. Sure, Hong Kong comedy is often a fickle mistress, but this sort of stuff is bad bottom of the barrel fare by anyone's standards.
As for the action, I will grant that the fight sequences save this movie from becoming a true Z-movie experience, but that's only because they're slightly more competently made than the terrible exposition scenes. Action director Yuen Cheung-Yan has some fine entries in his filmography, but his work here was pretty obviously done on auto-pilot. Like the movie as a whole, there really isn't any sort of inventiveness or passion applied.