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Come Drink With Me Region 3 DVD Review

Discussion in 'Movie Forum' started by Seth Gecko, May 25, 2005.

  1. Seth Gecko

    Seth Gecko
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    <P STYLE='text-align: center'><FONT STYLE='font-size: 18px'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/ComeDrinkWithMe/ComeDrinkWithMeR3.jpg' ALT='COME DRINK WITH ME DVD cover artwork' ALIGN='RIGHT'>COME DRINK WITH ME</FONT><br>Reviewed April 2005 by <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?dvdid=Chris McEneany' target='_blank'>Chris McEneany</A>.</P><P><B>The Movie : 7</B></P><P> “A lot can happen in one night.”</p><P>From the estimable Shaw Brothers stable (love their riff on the Warner Bros logo) comes this 1966 <i>wuxia</i>classic – a movie that literally broke the Hong Kong martial arts mould and has remained a impressive template for many action filmmakers to this day. Don’t be fooled by Come Drink With Me’s vintage and deceptively sociable title, suggestive of a talk-heavy domestic drama – this movie is the real deal. For fans of Hero and House Of Flying Daggers, this is a necessary addition to your collection with its potent mix of swordplay, acrobatics and fantasy. It also serves as a delicious precursor to Ang Lee’s celebrated Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with its floaty rooftop chase, poison darts and chiefly, sly old Jade Fox herself, Cheng Pei-Pei in the role that would propel her to stardom. Here, playing the lethal Golden Swallow, she is on a mission to rescue her brother, a government official, from the clutches of a corrupt Buddhist monk with his own unique brand of mystical martial arts. With his brutal second-in-command, the powdered Jade-Face Tiger, and a seemingly endless array of goons dogging every step she takes, she has no option but to team up with another master swordsman called Drunken Cat if she wants to get her brother back and take down this renegade clan.</p><P> “Stop bragging. You’ll die soon.”</p><P>Lavishly filmed amid some breathtaking mountain scenery and featuring many cleverly choreographed fight sequences, Come Drink With Me nevertheless manages to keep its tongue lodged firmly in its cheek, legendary director King Hu (aka Hu King-chuan) obviously determined to have a good time. The henchmen are all of the wildly gurning variety, quick to quip but even quicker to drop and the flamboyant Drunken Cat’s antics are almost Monkey-esque, although you can also detect a hint of the manic Toshiro Mifune’s Kikuchiyo from Kurosawa’s epic Seven Samurai in his tricky, on-edge behaviour. Don’t let his bizarre penchant for lapsing into song put you off either, as one particular chorus contains some highly relevant coded information for the gorgeous Golden Swallow. Although often lurking about in the shadows and only occasionally lending a helping hand he becomes, in many ways, the main character of the tale with his own agenda taking centre stage in the latter half of the movie. But, make no mistake, this film belongs to Cheng Pei-Pei and she carries it off with a confident, though sometimes coy, assuredness. Look at how she playfully disarms the gang in the intricately staged tavern brawl and how skilfully she wields those twin daggers during the awesome temple skirmish – eat your heart out, Elektra! This girl means business, but she’s going to have some fun, as well. She may allow herself a few too many perplexed expressions when events slip out of her control, but with a face as heart-falteringly cute as that, who’s going to complain?</p><P> “What’s the use of praying to a clay Buddha, when a living god like me can grant your every wish?”</p><P>King Hu’s direction is pitched perfectly. Whether lampooning the baddies in the tavern or following Drunken Cat’s witty deceptions, he never drops the ball and forgets that this is meant to be anything other than pure entertainment. High-brow nobility, honour and emotional integrity are never allowed to get in the way of what is essentially a boisterous romp. Utilising some tremendous widescreen cinematography – just look at the pitched mountain-slope battles that bookend the movie and the beautiful entrance of Golden Swallow to the temple – he frames each shot like a painting. Often called the Chinese Kurosawa, his long, tension-teasing build-ups to the action actually come across as a more of a spiritual ancestor to Sergio Leone – all drawn-out suspense as goading participants size each other up. But the stylistic trimmings are mainly King Hu originals. They seem familiar now only because every <i>wuxia</i>movie made since has adapted them. Check out the fantastic pull-back his camera does through the ring of goons around Golden Swallow in the afore-mentioned tavern brawl. And it is quite refreshing to watch dramatic set-piece fights unfold in one-take long shots without the frenetic editing, slow-motion cuts and whiz-bang frame jumps that seem prerequisite for such fare nowadays. There’s even some lovely spurting gore on offer, too. Keep an eye out for those poison darts now, y’hear?</p><P> “Useless idiots! Your whole gang beaten by a little girl!”</p><P>The only real fly in the ointment here is the inclusion of some rather unnecessary mystical powers. These seem to boil down to the ability to expel a curious Force-type energy from certain characters’ outstretched fingers. And, to be honest, with this I think we can look just a little further than Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress to find a certain Mr. Lucas’s inspiration. However, a lot of this Jedi-esque training is held in Drunken Cat’s incredibly eye-catching homestead – a real des-res with its on-tap waterfall, stepping stones and picturesque pagoda – so, at least, it looks gloriously atmospheric.</p><P> “He truly is a great master but, compared to me, he still has a way to go.”</p><P>If all this immaculate staging comes slightly adrift in the second half – the later battle feels lacklustre and a little slapdash when compared to what has gone before – the overall elegance of the piece still elevates Come Drink With Me to classic status. If the combat is more akin to dancing than actual fighting, acrobatic rather than vicious, then the style and sheer presence of Cheng Pei-Pei still ignites the screen. Less fragile than Ziyi Zhang but just as beautiful, she justly took the accolade of Mistress Of the Swords when Asian cinema truly needed a shot in the arm. One last thing, folks. Check out the waiter in the tavern serving Golden Swallow – is he a dead ringer for comic Lee Evans, or what?</p> <P><B>Picture : 7</B></P><P>Although presented with a non-anamorphic 2.35:1 image, it is impossible to complain about the glorious visuals on offer here. The first ten minutes or so of Come Drink With Me will convince you of the awesome restoration job that this movie has undergone. The picture is literally ravishing, with colours that are simply irresistible. Full of bright costumes, flashing sharp-edged hardware, spurting blood and lovely blue skies – you would swear that this didn’t actually hark from all the way back in 1966. You’ll be pleased to know that colour is accurately locked in with no evidence of bleeding or smearing. If the NTSC transfer is slightly soft, you’ll really only notice this a couple of times with some complex backgrounds appearing vaguely blurry. Check out the marvellous transition from bright sunny hillside to smoky, fire lit interior. The spectrum is always warm and delightfully inviting.</p><P>The level of detail is better than expected, too, with only the occasional shimmering apparent on intricate patterns - wicker blinds for example. The woods are resplendent in the sunlight, too. Full of lush green detail. Blacks are nice and deep, providing a fabulous sense of shadow and depth in the tavern and night time scenes are never swamped or obscured with multiple layers of grey murk as may have been expected. Well done.</p><P> There is some print damage displayed, but this is really just the odd hair on the edge of the lens type of effect and, to be fair, should not detract from anybody’s enjoyment of the otherwise smart presentation. With no grain apparent, zero pixilation or blocking either, it is somewhat of a shame that the movie is so heavily edge-enhanced. Now, I know that this doesn’t bother a lot of people (me included, most of the time) but here it really bugged me, becoming the only real visual defect in an otherwise exemplary spruce-up. Let me stress though that this probably only niggled me because I was otherwise so impressed.</p><P>Also, it is worth mentioning that the optional English subtitles are a hoot. With the usual grammatical errors and a vaguely irritating habit of repeating lines a couple of times, they also seem to want us to believe that the clientele of the tavern all think that the gorgeous Golden Swallow is actually a man! What’s that all about then?</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/ComeDrinkWithMe/ComeDrinkWithMe_1.jpg' ALT='COME DRINK WITH ME'></P><P><B>Sound : 6</B></P><P>Well, one thing is for certain. This is a very loud mix indeed. The musical score alone will bounce you off the walls if you’re not careful. Although supposedly a Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, this soundtrack is definitely most aggressively utilised across the front three speakers and the sub. Taiko drums literally assault you in a frontal charge, harsh steel on steel clangs across the speakers with a dynamism that’ll leave your ears ringing. All very, very powerful and enjoyable … but surround, it isn’t. During the storm that rages outside the tavern, the rain certainly lashes in waves towards you and there is a wonderful and realistic sense of the pitter-pattering taking place across the living room floor, but you’ll still crave a little bit of activity from the rears. They only seem to come into play when padding out the odd song and dance routine, or the musical score itself. Ambience is hardly used – or if it is, it is perhaps drowned out by the phenomenal attack coming in from the front soundstage. Despite all this aural aggression dialogue never suffers, though.</p><P>Another peculiarity comes much later on in a sequence that sees Drunken Cat confronting a blast from his past. There is a curious buzzing on the soundtrack that lasts for a couple of minutes. Now, let me state that this is probably not a fault and is, in fact, the chirping sounds made by crickets or some other insects but it comes through so loud and constant that it did leave me wondering if there was some sort of technical defect on the mix. It would be interesting to hear if anyone else has noticed this or whether this particular swarm is localised just to my disc.</p><P>All in all though, this is a spectacularly robust and bold mix that manages to showcase the terrific score and the great action sequences with vigour and, for a film that is nearly forty years old now, that can’t be bad.</p><P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/ComeDrinkWithMe/ComeDrinkWithMe_2.jpg' ALT='COME DRINK WITH ME'></P><P><B>Extras : 7</B></P><P>Celestial Pictures have done Come Drink With Me proud with a great set of extra features. First up is the wonderful Commentary Track with Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan, actress Cheng Pei-Pei herself and Cheng’s own daughter Marsha Yuen. This is a sterling track, folks. Logan always gives value for money and here he is on top form, no doubt rising to the occasion with two such lovely ladies beside him. Lots of fun, he is of the fast fact delivery service and doles out detail, anecdote and background with a joyful relentlessness. The girls, too, dish out a wealth of information – Cheng Pei-Pei struggles a little to get her points across but is always interesting and Marsha is really just there to provide the giggles, and she does this very close to the microphone so watch out. Boy, is she loud! Logan clearly relishes being near his heroine Cheng although it is blatantly obvious that he is smitten with the Golden Swallow of the sixties. Top stuff.</p><P> Next up there is a nice selection of Interviews. Cheng Pei-Pei has 18minutes of two interviews spliced together. Fond of discussing how movie styles differ between then and now, she gives a good overview of her involvement in Come Drink With Me, her big break. And guess what … she’s still a stunner now, a very far cry from her turn as Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger. Drunken Cat’s Yueh Hu has 4.45 minutes to reminisce but sadly he speaks only in Chinese and is strangely un-subtitled. A shame. Marsha Yuen gets 6.30 minutes to talk about her mother and the movie that launched her sword-swinging career, film critic Paul Fonoroff gets almost 10 minutes to discuss the impact of the film and give an overview of King Hu’s output and then it is down to good old Bey Logan to provide 5 minutes of adoration of Cheng Pei-Pei.</p><P> We are also provided with the original 3.40 minutes Theatrical Trailer with its dated telegraphing of the movie’s highlights – “Fantastic Swordplay!” and “Vengeance and Violence!” and the dynamic new trailer for the restored version. And finally we get a selection of Colour Stills, the original poster and a fairly thorough set of Filmographies and Biographies for all the main players. Oh, and the trailers for The Warlord, Love In A Fallen City, The Heroic Ones and Hong Kong Nocturne.</p><P>No Making Of, then. But the interviews and the commentary track more than make up for this. Quality.</p> <P STYLE='text-align: center'><IMG SRC='http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/ComeDrinkWithMe/ComeDrinkWithMe_3.jpg' ALT='COME DRINK WITH ME'></P><P><B>Verdict : 7</B></P><P>It might be considered slow by today’s standards but Come Drink With Me is a splendid example of early <i>wuxia,</i> with its welcome element of humour, colourful characters and elegantly staged set-pieces. Cheng Pei-Pei gives a performance that marked her out for stardom, attaining cult status with style, charm and beauty. A classic of the genre that truly paved the way for Asian cinema to become the force that it is today.</p><P>Beautifully presented here and bolstered by some top notch extras this stylish gem from the Shaw Bros archives is a release that no self-respecting fan of <i>wuxia</i> can afford to miss.</p><div ALIGN='CENTER'>Review Disc Supplied by <a href="http://global.yesasia.com/assocred.asp?W7QIPXOV+/en/prdTransfer.aspx/pid-1002392505
    "><img src="http://www.wvip.co.uk/images/dvd/SuppliersLogos/YesAsia.jpg" Align="absmiddle"></a><br>Please support us by using our review sponsors.</div><TABLE border='0' CELLPADDING='0' CELLSPACING='2' WIDTH='100%'><TR><TD COLSPAN='2'><B>COME DRINK WITH ME (1966)</B></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Genres</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=ACTION' target='_blank'>ACTION</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=exact&searchfield=genre&search_for=CRIME' target='_blank'>CRIME</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Stars</TD><TD><A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=PEI-PEI CHENG' target='_blank'>PEI-PEI CHENG</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=HUA YUEH' target='_blank'>HUA YUEH</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=HUNG LIEH CHEN' target='_blank'>HUNG LIEH CHEN</A>, <A HREF='http://www.totaldvd.net/cgi-bin/dvdreviews.php?include=all&searchfield=stars&search_for=YUN-CHUNG LI' target='_blank'>YUN-CHUNG LI</A></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65'><B>Region</B></TD><TD><B>3</B> <FONT>(CHINA)</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Supplier</TD><TD><FONT>Celestial Pictures. Released Thursday 5th December 2002</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>SRP</TD><TD><FONT>$19.99</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Discs</TD><TD><FONT>1</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Format</TD><TD><FONT>DVD9</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Time</TD><TD><FONT>91 mins.</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD VALIGN='TOP' WIDTH='65'>Chapters</TD><TD><FONT>12</FONT></TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Picture</TD><TD>Non-Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1 (NTSC)&nbsp;</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Sound</TD><TD>Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Subtitles</TD><TD>Traditional and Simplified Chinese, English, Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Indonesia</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Case</TD><TD>Amaray with Slipcase</TD></TR><TR><TD WIDTH='65' VALIGN='TOP'>Extras</TD><TD>Trailers<BR>New Releases<BR>Audio Commentary<BR>Interviews<BR>Stills Gallery<BR>Original Poster<BR>Production Notes<BR>Biographies and Selected Filmographies</TD></TR></TABLE><P STYLE='text-align: center'>If you would like to comment on this review, please reply below.</P>
     

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