Those who watched Mulan and praised the use of a female driven narrative may be surprised to know that this was merely a return to a popular trope from the martial arts genre. The story of Hua Mulan has a long history of cinematic adaptations, but that was not the only story with a female heroine at the center, nor was it the only one with a protagonist hiding her gender from other characters. Following Mulan Joins the Army (1939) and the emerging popularity of the wuxia sub-genre pioneered in Shanghai, Hong Kong and the Shaw Brothers contributed with Come Drink with Me.
This 1966 wuxia martial arts film is set during the Ming Dynasty and involves the kidnapping of a general’s son. The general’s daughter and the sister of the stolen child is Golden Swallow (Cheng Pei-pei), who sets out to rescue her brother while disguising herself as a man. Although Golden Swallow is an impressive fighter, she is nearly taken out by a poisoned dart and must be rescued by a martial arts master known as Drunken Cat (Yueh Hua), who is initially believed to be nothing more than a beggar. This results in the expected training and recovery scenes, which lead up to the rescue and revenge portion of the narrative.
Director King Hu would go on to make A Touch of Zen, a wuxia many consider to be among the best of the genre. This was also his final film with the Shaw Brothers Studio, though they would make a sequel called Golden Swallow without his involvement. Cheng Pei-pei reprised the role, having been made a star by Come Drink With Me.
The Arrow Video special edition Blu-ray release of Come Drink With Me comes with several extras that will make the purchase worthwhile for fans of the film. The packaging of the Blu-ray release comes with newly commissioned artwork by Tony Stella, though the reversable sleeve also contains the original poster artwork for the purists. For the first pressing of the release also includes a collector's booklet with new essays on the film by Anne Billson and George Chun Han Wang, along with production photographs.
The special features on the disc itself are even more extensive, along with including a high definition presentation of the film and uncompressed original mono audio for both the Mandarin and English-dubbed versions of the film. Special features also include:
· Brand new audio commentary by film critic and
historian Tony Rayns
· Interview with star Cheng Pei-pei, filmed by
Frédéric Ambroisine in 2003
· Interview with star Yueh Hua, filmed by
Frédéric Ambroisine in 2007
· Interview with star Chen Hung-lieh, filmed by
Frédéric Ambroisine in 2003
· Talk Story
with Cheng Pei-pei, a 2016 Q&A at the University of Hawaii moderated by
George Chun Han Wang
· Cinema Hong
Kong: Swordfighting, a documentary on the history of the wuxia genre and
Shaw Brothers’ contributions to it, produced by Celestial Pictures in 2003 and
featuring interviews with Cheng Pei-pei, Gordon Liu, Lau Kar-leung, John Woo,
Sammo Hung, Kara Hui, David Chiang and others
· Original theatrical trailer, plus trailer for
the sequel Golden Swallow
· Image gallery
Entertainment Value: 7.5/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 8/10
Historical Significance: 8/10
Special Features: 8/10