One of the roots of Kung-fu comedies
Looking back to Jackie Chan's filmography, it seems that there are only kung-fu comedies, or almost. Wrong, in fact at the beginning of his career, Jackie had to play the "wanna be Bruce Lee", or would I say, ONE of the numerous WBBL. Hopefully, Yuen Woo-Ping replaced Lo Wei and allowed him to try HIS character, a chinese clown, mixing jokes and action. Snake in Eagle's Shadow
was their first attempt, and first success, Drunken Master
is the confirmation of this decision. The movie is not perfect though, the lacks of most of the kung-fu movies of the late 70's are still present. The kung-fu is of course excellent, Jackie was at the best of this technical and physical possibilities, the mix with comedy is often efficient, even if quite childish. Those used to the cantonese comedies know there is nothing in common with the english humor, to take one extreme exemple. This is not really a lack, but a cultural specificity.
No, the real lack of the movie is rather his rythm. There are a lot of fights in there, and most of them share the same rythm: bam bam bam bam bam bam bam bam bam bam, during five minutes. As good as the fights manage to be, it becomes a bit boring sometimes. If you look at Jackie's kung-fu comedies a few year later, you can see that the whole industry has learned rythm: bam bam bam - - - bam bam - - bam - - bam bam bam bam.
Overall, Drunken Master
is not a bad movie of course. The plot is quite simple, right, but the rythm of the story is quite good, the actors are very efficient, le kung-fu is technically very impressive. Those who like kung-fu comedy and what it implies should really have a look at what can be consider as one of "fathers" of the genre.