Issue #236          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES           November 1st, 2004

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Dance of the Drunk Mantis
(1979; Seasonal Film Corporation)

Cantonese: Laam bak chui kuen
Mandarin: Nan bei zui quan
English: South North Drunk Fist


RATING: 7/10


Jackie Chan did not return for this follow-up to DRUNKEN MASTER (reviewed in issue #214), but director Yuen Woo-ping and wily old Simon Yuen Siu-tin did and the result is one of the best kung fu comedies of its era. After a trip across country, slovenly martial arts master Beggar So (Simon Yuen) returns home to find that his wife (Linda Lin Ying) has adopted a son named Foggy (Yuen Shun-yee). Much to So's chagrin, the boy is a total klutz who cannot even perform the most basic kung fu moves. Although his wife orders him to instruct Foggy, So torments him instead with meaningless and painful training exercises. Rival kung fu great "Rubber Legs" (Hwang Jang-li), master of the Northern Drunk Mantis style, soon tracks So down, with the intention of killing him in a duel. Although Sam dominates the bout at first, Rubber Legs eventually bests him with his hybrid style. Before he can finish So off, the old man’s son intervenes and saves him. While out to get herbs to treat his wounded father, Foggy encounters the "Sickness Master" (Yam Sai-kwoon), who instructs him in his technique: an unusual variation on the drunken boxing style which can defeat Rubber Legs, if properly mastered.

Yuen Shun-yee Simon Yuen Hwang Jang-li

While it follows the customary "eccentric master(s)/young student/ invincible villain" Old School formula, DANCE OF THE DRUNK MANTIS boasts some outstanding kung fu. The highlight is the initial fight between Hwang Jang-li and Simon Yuen, which starts off with simple hand movements and gradually progresses to an all out duel (a similar but shorter sequence can be found in Lau Kar-leung’s DIRTY HO from the same year). The training sequences are first rate too, with a number of intricate workouts that run the gamut from painful to humorous (Yuen Shun-yee trying to catch squares of tofu without crushing them is the best example of the latter). Like most films of this type, the stock music (which includes a brief excerpt from Tangerine Dream’s score for SORCERER) is overbearing, emphasizing the jokes to an unnecessary degree, but the traditional martial arts mastery transcends this annoyance. Yam Sai-kwoon (probably best known for playing the villainous monk in Yuen Woo-ping’s IRON MONKEY) deserves special mention for excelling in a rare benevolent role. Corey Yuen Kwai (who co-directed the action and plays Rubber Legs' equally unscrupulous student), Dean Shek Tien, Chin Yuet-sang, Brandy Yuen Chan-yeung (as a Beggar So impersonator who has the extreme misfortune to cross paths with Rubber Legs) and actor/director/editor David Wu Tai-wai also appear.

Yuen Shun-yee (left), Yam Sai-kwoon Dean Shek Corey Yuen


The presentation looks well above average for an Old School effort, but never quite as nice as one might hope. Light wear is present, along with some intermittent video noise, occasional green or blue stains (which grow quite pronounced in the final 90 seconds of the movie), and colors that look mildly yellowed in spots. Also, artificial slow motion is used to hide some missing or heavily damaged frames. The DVD is still much improved over other NTSC discs available thus far and a satisfactory purchase (especially compared to the garbage released on a regular basis by Video Asia and Xenon). The audio tracks have the expected limitations of the time, but get the job done and are thankfully left in the original mono. The original HK theatrical trailer is included, along with Mei Ahs inevitable Data Bank feature.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Mei Ah Entertainment. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2004. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 0
  • Mei Ah Entertainment #DVD-639
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional & Simplified Chinese
  • 8 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 95 Minutes

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Australia: M 15+
  • Great Britain: 12
  • Nova Scotia: 14
  • Ontario: PG
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG (cut)
  • Contains moderate violence and some coarse language


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful