For our third week, we watched King Hu’s Come Drink With Me. At the start of the movie, I was fully expecting it to be centered around Golden Swallow since she is the focus of the trailers, the movie posters, and the cover of the DVD. It did not occur to me that her character, a straight-laced daughter of a governor, did not correlate with the title at all. Even when the actual drunk character appeared for the first time, it did not occur to me immediately that the story is about him. Despite being a little put off that such a strong heroine was snubbed in favor for Drunken Cat, I cannot help but find how King Hu presented him throughout the film (mainly the first two thirds of the movie) to be an interesting way to add depth to this character.
The whole background of Drunken Cat is that he is a martial arts master in hiding, so it does not come as a surprise that he initially shows up as some random bystander during the showdown between Golden Swallow and Smiling Tiger and his underlings. Although it soons becomes apparent that he knows more than it appears, he is very reluctant to own up to his efforts to help. It says a lot about his character where he is a good person who cannot stop himself from helping, even though it could risk his identity being revealed.
The second half of the fight scene at the temple best showcases Drunken Cat’s overall role in Come Drink With Me. While Golden Swallow and Jade Tiger’s gang drive the action, it is really Drunken Cat who saves the day. There’s a short shot of Golden Swallow jumping out the suddenly open temple window before the bad guys follow where Drunken Cat is hidden in the foreground, hinting he was the one who opened the way for her. His presence becomes more obvious as the fight carries on, but King Hu cuts it in a way that shots of Drunken Cat appear quickly in contrast to the long shots between Golden Swallow and Jade Tiger. This pacing makes the audience focus on Golden Swallow and Jade Tiger while also slowly drawing attention to “the man behind the curtain”, the real star of the movie, Drunken Cat.