• Come Drink With Me (88 Films) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: 88 Films
    Released on: February 17th, 2020.
    Director: King Hu
    Cast: Cheng Pei Pei, Yueh Hua, Yang Chih-Ching, Chen Hung Lieh, Shen Lao
    Year: 1966
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    Come Drink With Me – Movie Review:

    In the opening scene of Come Drink With Me we witness a roving clan of thieves laying waste to a government convoy and the kidnapping of an important political officer. The reasoning behind their actions is that they intend to use their captive friend as a bargaining chip, so that they can force the government to release their leader who has recently been locked up for his criminal activity.

    In order to free the hostage without having to give up their prisoner, the local officials decide to send in Golden Swallow (Cheng Pei Pei, who is probably best known to western audiences for her appearance in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). She is a brilliant swordswoman who disguises herself as a male, the hope being that she’ll be able to take on the bandits and save the day. She soon, by chance, meets a likeminded individual named Drunken Cat (Yueh Hua of The Iron Bodyguard). He teams up with her to help stop the thugs in their tracks. Though at first he appears to be nothing more than a local small town drunk, everyone is soon surprised to find out about his martial arts skills.

    Plenty of killer fight choreography and some great swordplay combined with a cold, calculating performance from the female lead make Come Drink With Me a prime example of just how good vintage martial arts films can be. Cheng Pei Pei is smart, cunning and just pretty enough (even when posing as a man!) to make for a fantastic heroin and she carries the film with ease. She moves quickly and gracefully with a steely gaze and the precision of a master swordswoman in this film, lending an air of class to the proceedings.

    Directed with loads of style by the late King Hu, the film does a great job of focusing on the fluid movements of the combatants on screen. He directs the film with a deliberate pacing and some interesting plot twists. The interplay between Drunken Cat and Golden Swallow might seem a little clichéd by today's standards, but it works really well here and it provides for a lot of fun throughout the film. Though the characters work together for a similar cause, they couldn't be more different and at the same time, they're more alike than either one of them truly realizes.

    Of course, like any good martial arts film, Come Drink With Me builds up to a final showdown in which the hero must overcome insurmountable odds to emerge victorious. In this film, Golden Swallow squares off against a small army of men in a scene which gives Cheng Pei Pei ample opportunity to show off her unique fighting style and sword skills. While the film isn't the bloodbath that many of Chang Cheh's films made around the same time period would turn out to be, there's still plenty of violence on display here and the movie hardly shies away from bloodshed, as evidenced in the opening scene when a man has his hand cut off in a sword fight.

    While Come Drink With Me isn't the best or most original martial arts film of its day, it's certainly one of the most influential. The care and detail in the cinematography and fight choreography raised the bar for competing directors and studios, and it's at least partially because of this film that the later entries from the Shaw Bros. studio looked as good as they did. The production values are strong and the cinematography is excellent.

    Come Drink With Me – Blu-ray Review:

    88 Films brings Come Drink With Me to Blu-ray framed in 2.35.1 widescreen in AVC encoded 1080p high definition with the feature taking up 24GBS of space on a 25GB disc. Colors look quite good here and black levels are fine but some digital noise reduction appears to have been applied, some detail is on the soft side and the image is seemingly free or natural looking grain. Additionally, there are occasionally shots where the focus looks off (though this has to do with how the movie was shot and is not a fault of the transfer itself – the old DVD release looked soft and out of focus in those same shots). There’s virtually no print damage, however, and the transfer is free of obvious compression artifacts and edge enhancement. This is a nice step up from the previous DVD release.

    24-bit DTS-HD Mono options are provided in both a Chinese language option with English Subtitles and in an English dubbed track. The Chinese track plays best, it suits the film more and it sounds quite clean with no audible issues. The English track is fun in the goofy sort of way that dubbed tracks tend to be for older Shaw Brothers movies.

    The main extra on the disc is an audio commentary track with Samm Deighann. She speaks in detail about how this film was a game changer of sorts and of the influence that it had on martial arts cinema as a whole. Lots of background information is provided about both Cheng Pei Pei and King Hu as well as some of the other participants, and there’s exploration of some of the themes that the film deals with as well as its important representation of a female hero, uncommon for the time.

    Additionally, the disc contains a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection. 88 Films also provides some nice reversible cover art and, for the first pressing, a limited edition slipcover and an insert booklet containing an essay on the film from Asian Cinema expert James Oliver.

    Unfortunately the extra features from the Region 1 DVD release (which included a commentary and interview with Chang Pei-Pei, a featurette on King Hu and an interview with Yueh Hua - all of which are quite valuable!) have not been carried over to this Blu-ray.

    Come Drink With Me – The Final Word:

    Come Drink With Me holds up well, a film as entertaining as it is influential. It’s a stylish and exciting film with an iconic lead performance from Cheng Pei Pei and some fantastic fight choreography. 88 Films gives this Shaw Brothers classic a solid Blu-ray release.

    Click on the images below for full sized Come Drink With Me Blu-ray screen caps!