A female-led 1960s historical martial arts film still stands up and still kicks ass. Info
One of the Shaw Brothers Studio’s first entries into their super-violent action film cycle of the 1960s and 1970s, Come Drink With Me was an important film to the development of the historical martial arts, or wuxia, genre. Director King Hu’s reputation as a visionary emphasizing both minimalism and action was established by the film’s massive success, and furthered by his subsequent films Dragon Inn and A Touch Of Zen. Come Drink With Me centers around governor’s daughter Golden Swallow (Pei-Pei Ching), on a quest to rescue her brother from a gang of bandits. Outnumbered, she is forced to team up with a mysterious man only known as Drunken Cat. Ching’s icy stare and acrobatic training make her a great action lead, holding her own against the over-the-top villains. In a time when women typically didn’t have interesting roles in martial arts films, Come Drink With Me was so successful that Ching went on to reprise the character in the even more violent sequel named after her character, Golden Swallow.
King Hu’s time directing at Shaw Brothers was frustrating and brief, but the combination of his meticulous, compositional direction and the Shaws’ skilled penchant for more and more violence resulted in two of the best martial arts films of the era. Come Drink With Me and Dragon Inn established many genre conventions; their influence is most obvious in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which recycles many of King Hu’s famous wire-work action sequences and also features Pei-Pei Chang in a tribute to Hu's films. With a strong female protagonist and tons of brutal action, Come Drink With Me is a legendary benchmark of martial arts cinema that's still immensely enjoyable today. —Ian Adcock