Da zui xia
starring Cheng Pei-pei, Yueh Hua
screenplay by Yang Ye
directed by Hu King
by Walter Chaw Directed by Hu King for the legendary Shaw Brothers, 1966's Come Drink with Me, presented at the DIFF in a 35mm print newly minted for this year's Cannes Film Festival, is one of the obvious headwaters for Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, featuring the legendary Cheng Pei-pei (villain Jade Fox in Lee's picture) as swashbuckling Golden Swallow, sister to a kidnapped imperial official. Between this film and its sequel, Golden Swallow, Pei-pei established herself as a watershed action hero, while Hu's style, alternately lyrical and blood-geyser visceral (something between the painterly quality of Inagaki's Samurai trilogy and the Guignol conclusion of Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro), proved wildly influential in the work of Tsui Hark and the modern Hong Kong cinema. With pioneering wire-work that includes a (now familiar) confrontation in a restaurant and twilight chase across rooftops, Come Drink with Me also features the Chinese martial arts film conventions of a drunken master (Yueh Hua) and a fallible hero who admits occasional wrong and proves, ultimately, to be mortal. Evocative and reserved (particularly from a modern perspective), Come Drink with Me is from a period in Chinese cinema still strongly connected to traditional opera forms and dance; Pei-pei is a trained dancer, not initially a martial artist, a link reflected in the classical purposefulness of the film's structure. Important, entertaining, and deeply influential, Come Drink with Me is a seminal film in a genre experiencing an unprecedented western diffusion and visibility--a bit of the old magic for a suddenly receptive audience.