As I mentioned in class, the character of Drunken Cat very much reminded me of Jackie Chan’s Drunken Master and his more recent film The Forbidden Kingdom directed by Robert Minkoff. The concept of obfuscating stupidity is core to the construction of the Drunken Cat character. As said in Cato the Elder’s quote: It is sometimes the height of wisdom to feign stupidity (Obfuscating Stupidity, 2017). Drunken Cat was initially playing dumb to distract his enemies and managed to convince them he was harmless. This tactic helped him escape problems because the enemies were not alerted to him, in contrast to Golden Swallow who drew all their attention.
Bordwell mentioned in Planet Hong Kong that different from Chang Cheh and Lau Kar-leung’s heroes who are defined by male friendship and their dedication to the Shaolin heritage, King Hu’s heroes fight for a cause – often patriotic loyalty and protection to the weak and innocent (Bordwell, 2011). This accurately describes Drunken Cat. He was not the main character at the beginning; perhaps for he has seen through the dusty world and only desired a peaceful state of mind. He then became involved in the fight for two causes – vengeance towards his shixiong Diao Jingtang of killing their kungfu master and solemn dedication to justice assisting Golden Swallow.
Another observation of the film is the fight scenes. The elements of Beijing Opera are ubiquitous throughout the film, from choreography to the use of music and colours. As Hu acknowledged himself, his combat scenes are designed as ballets, not as plausible fights; the actions are neither strictly realistic nor obviously fantastic (Bordwell, 2011).
The rhythms – actions and pauses bring dynamics to the tempo of the film. Opera percussion was included in the soundtrack, accompanying scenes of swordplay and chases, further leading the audience immersed in the stories. Consistent with Beijing Opera, colours are often associated with characters’ personality. A conspicuous example would be Sleek Face’s exceptionally white face; characters that are sneaky and treacherous are usually painted with white pigment on the face.
Bordwell, D. (2011). Planet Hong Kong - Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment (2nd ed). Irvington Way Institute Press.
Obfuscating Stupidity. (2017). Retrieved from TV Tropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ObfuscatingStupidity