|S E A R C H D V D B e a v e r|
(aka 'Come Drink With Me' or 'Da zui xia')
Hong Kong 1966
Available at last on a digitally restored DVD, this was Hu's first foray into wuxia (martial chivalry) territory and already featured many of his future trademarks: a heroine in drag, fights in the confined space of an inn, music and percussion cues from Peking Opera and a plot which suddenly expands to a larger frame of reference. Posing as the knight errant Golden Swallow, Xiyan (Cheng) sets out to rescue her brother, an official held hostage by the Five Tiger Gang; she is aided, at first obliquely, by the beggar Drunken Cat (Yueh), who leads a raggle-taggle troupe of kids (great haircuts!) who sing for small change. He is actually Fan Dabei, a 'drunken master' in retreat since the murder of his teacher, and the plot shift occurs when he realises that the gang's mastermind is the traitor who did the foul deed. Less ambitious than Hu's later classics in the genre, but the charismatic performances and the overall sense of a form in transition give it a lasting freshness and charm.
Theatrical Release: April 7th, 1966
DVD Review: Weinstein Company - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
CLICK to order from:
|Distribution||Weinstein Company - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 6.47 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||Mandarin (mono), DUB: English (Dolby Digital 5.1)|
|Subtitles||English (CC), English, Spanish, None|
with Actress Cheng Pei-pei and Bey Logan
Trailer Gallery (Come Drink With Me, Heroes of the East)
Probably THE most influential martial arts films of all time - and as far as that dynamic genre goes - this is just about perfect in every sense. The teaming of the Shaw Brothers and King Hu transformed the style of celluloid martial arts to a zenith extreme. Kudos to the magnetic Cheng Pei-pei - the universal tumblers certainly fell into place with this one! In a word - WOW.
There have been a few DVD editions of this film with most looking adequate but many being non-anamorphic. This new Dragon Dynasty DVD looks very strong - it is almost impossible to believe the film is over 40 years old. It's dual-layered, anamorphic and progressive - coded for region 1 in the NTSC standard. Detail, contrast and colors are at a very high level indeed. The image is clean and must have been restored, although I see no mention on the box although it IS mentioned in the commentary. I believe the source is from Celestial Pictures. I can't confirm that this is the best DVD visually (although I strongly suspect it), but tack on the extras (listed below) and it surely must be the best package of this monumentally revered classic.
Audio consists of an original Mandarin mono track and a 5.1 English DUB. I agree with these choices as it caters to the purists and those who don't mind the bastardized version with the artificially boosted audio. The mono can be somewhat 'echoy'. There are English (standard and hearing impaired - almost comically literal at times and don't flow very smoothly) and Spanish subtitle options.
Supplements are extensive - firstly we have a decent commentary with actress Cheng Pei-pei and Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan. We've heard Logan on many of these and he really knows his stuff - he takes the lead but Cheng Pei-pei isn't afraid to give input regardless of her English (which is generally good). They work well together - lots of nostalgia and discussion of production specifics - no gaps - too much to talk about. There are two featurettes: The King and I has director Tsui Hark remembering King Hu - this runs about 14 minutes. The second has a kind of retrospective with Bey Logan where he is able to impart more minutiae relating to the film's production. Then we have two interviews (both with English subtitles) - the first, almost 20 minutes, with leading lady Cheng Pei-pei and she is very cute and charming - her camera charisma still shines through. Finally another with actor Man Yueh Hua giving his remembrances and lasting about 17 minutes. Finally a theatrical trailer gallery with Come Drink With Me and Heroes of the East (also released on this date - reviewed HERE).
Come Drink With Me captured the very essence of what embodied best of the martial arts cinema universe. This $15 price tag is a ridiculous deal - whether you are a fan or the genre or not. It borders on essential cinema although I wish the subtitle translation was a shade more fluid. Dragon Dynasty comes through again. Magnificent value and we give it a strong recommendation.