Shaolin Drunk Monkey | Varied Celluloid

Shaolin Drunk Monkey

Posted by Josh Samford On December - 22 - 2011

Shaolin Drunk Monkey (1985)
Director: Godfrey Ho
Writers: Marco Shin
Starring: Eagle Han, Elton Chong and Kent Chan



The Plot: Silver Eagle is a evil martial artist who travels the land looking for the very best Kung Fu artists that he can find, and then he murders them. Mo, who is not very talented but refers to himself as “the most able man from Shaolin,” is on a mission to find the Silver Eagle after his master was murdered by this psychotic Kung Fu master. When Mo loses his job as a cook, he wanders around until he meets a elderly beggar with a penchant for wine. This beggar soon takes Mo under his wing and promises to teach the young man Kung Fu. However, for him to do this, Mo must first learn humility. Becoming a beggar is the best way for a young man to do this, because if he can humble himself before all of society then he can surely grow as a individual. Mo, at first, doesn’t seem to take his work very serious. However, with the Silver Eagle growing closer to his position, he must become adamant in learning Kung Fu.

The Review
Shaolin Drunk Monkey, what is in a name? Well, a whole lot actually. With a title such as this, that reads as if someone chewed on the English language and then spit it out, you can immediately tell that the brightest minds were not involved in bringing this production stateside. When you see the credit that reads Godfrey Ho, you honestly need no further evidence of this fact. Not to knock Ho too hard, but his body of work generally speaks for itself. Known for taking older Taiwanese films and cutting them into pieces with newly recorded footage, he is a legend in the b-movie world. Shaolin Drunk Monkey is a title from the persistent director that came right before the most productive years within his career. Although it is not even a remotely decent piece of cinema, Shaolin Drunk Monkey does at least feature characters who are consistently in the movie from start until finish. That doesn’t make this movie any more comprehensible than The Ultimate Ninja, but at least the faces remain familiar. Still, at the end of the day, what you have is a completely unintelligible mess of celluloid vomit that was probably edited from a potentially better movie.

The movie is incredibly over-the-top, in nearly every way fashionable. That Peking Opera style that Hong Kong cinema is known for is already a bit on the zany side, but Shaolin Drunk Monkey takes everything to ridiculous new heights. From the insanely-red nose that our beggar has, which indicates that he is a drunk, to the ridiculous facial mugging done by every single member of the cast, this is a movie that isn’t afraid to be overly dramatic. It is the sort of flick where characters rub their bellies and cross their eyes whenever they feel hungry. Visual acting isn’t such a bad thing, but when it becomes this exaggerated why do we even need dialogue? Elton Chong, in the role of Mo, is quite ludicrous in most respects. His athletic performance is generally the only positive aspect of his role in the movie. He doesn’t have a “great” look to be a Kung Fu leading man, as he appears lanky and not particularly fit, but he steps up to the plate in terms of on-screen athleticism.

To explain the utter insanity that is Shaolin Drunk Monkey, I think I will take some time now to describe one of the earliest introductions to its lack of coherence. The scene begins with Mo (Elton Chong) running up to, what appears to be, a empty cottage. However, a voice booms out of the shadows and demands that Mo bring him water. Mo, being the rough “kid” that he is, replies with, “Come out, or I won’t go and get it!” We then jump cut to a shot of Mo running down a hill with two buckets that he intends to fill with water. The first thing that is obviously wrong with this scene, what happened to his persistence in not going to get the water? Why was a jump cut necessary at this point? Well, we get a vague answer from Mo when he arrives with the two buckets of water, as he mutters to himself, “I guess anything is better than being hungry.” If there was a promise of food, then the audience was never clued into it. We were never even shown the buckets, nor where our character got them from. Sure, you might say that the audience should have patience and they can soon figure these things out, but there are simple rules of entertainment that should be followed in a movie like this. Yet, this movie jumps around as if scenes were completely missing (and no doubt, they are). Fight scenes are often stopped dead in their tracks and severely hindered by this crazy editing. Fighters appear in one stance during one shot, and then immediately appear on the opposite side of the screen in the very next shot. I thought that these fight scenes were going to be the “worst” aspects of the editing in this movie, but I was wrong. Dead wrong. Characters are thrown into the movie without any sort of introduction, and as the movie progresses it simply becomes more and more incoherent.

The movie, quite literally, makes no sense. About twenty minutes into the movie, the film throws a monkey wrench into the plot by showing us a fight scene that should have come near the end of the movie. The scene in question comes about as we watch our leading man Mo run from two guys that he used to work with at the restaurant mentioned in the plot synopsis. At this point in the movie, Mo has not learned Kung Fu, nor does he take many things very serious. So, as he is being chased, the movie shakes us up with another jump cut. We watch as Mo runs down a alley, but then we are immediately thrown into a fight scene with Mo fending two random guys in the countryside. Not even the same guys that were chasing him, these are two other gentlemen wearing different clothes who have far different body tpes. Somehow, Mo now knows Kung Fu, despite not having any prowess within the martial arts whatsoever. This scene also features him adorning a red nose like his teacher. At this point in the movie, I was in awe. What had just transpired? Surely no movie could be this poorly edited. As the film moves along, there is no longer any way that audiences can keep up with the plot. Scenes are thrown together out of order, and the countryside fight scene with the two random strangers? It is repeated later in the film, after we finally see Mo train in Kung Fu. Characters are introduced at random, strange developments take place without any sort of warning and the small moments of confusion lead onward to bigger chunks of the movie going missing. Before you know it, there’s really no telling just what could possibly be going on.


The Conclusion
Look, sometimes you bite the bar and sometimes the bar bites you. I am forced to give Shaolin Drunk Monkey the worst score that I possibly can. If this were edited into a fashion that actually resembled logic, then perhaps it could be a solid one or two, but as of this moment it is like listening to a book on tape – set to shuffle. Also, it doesn’t even feature any drunken boxing nor monkey style Kung Fu. Talk about a double whammy of disappointment for anyone who actually picks this up without knowing who Godfrey Ho is. The movie gets zero stars. I can’t, in all honesty, find anything in this worth bragging about. The choreography is only moderately entertaining, but for god’s sake you can find a billion movies with better choreography than this, and those movies actually make sense. This is only the second time that Varied Celluloid has ever handed out a rating of zero… so you can take it on my word, avoid this one.




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Varied Celluloid is a film website intent on delivering views on movies from all genres. Started in 2003, the website has been steadfast in its goal and features a database of over 500 lengthy reviews. If you would like to contact us about writing for the website or sending screeners, please visit the about page located here.

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