Against The Drunken Cat Paws (HK 1979)

Rating: ***
Alternate Title: Thirteen Evil Bandits (?)
Cast: Judy Lee (Chia Ling)

Another confusing release date. "Deadly China Dolls" infers 1979 and the video packaging says 1984. I'm more inclined to go with 1979 based on the look of the film, but 1984 would make sense as the drunken style movies were more popular then.

Judy Lee is a woman hell-bent on vengeance. Her family was murdered and she was blinded by a bunch of bandits. She becomes a drunkard and a master at drunken boxing because the doctors tell her that drinking wine will eventually return her sight to her. An interesting prognosis, but it works. Then she, a big dumb carpenter, and an annoying town inspector with a really big pipe take out all of the bad guys. The film looks really nice and the martial arts sequences are very good. Judy Lee turns in a spectacular physical performance and her drunken forms are top notch. She's also bad to the bone, which is quite a treat to see. Throw in some kung fu cripples, a fat blind witch, a couple of giants, and the "poisonous dwarf" and you've got the whole package. Again, as with a lot of these old kung fu movies, the plot is often confusing, made worse by questionable continuity. In particular, towards the end of the film it's nearly impossible to tell the three main actresses apart. For a while I thought it was just Judy Lee's character changing outfits as she would fight different guys, but multiple viewings revealed the subtleties a little better. The film also ends on a less than satisfying note, as if the producers ran out of time and/or money for a slam bang finish. The main bad guy is dropped by Lee in less than five moves. That's some powerful drunken fighting. Anyway, it's surprisingly fun.