The Legend of Drunken Master

The movie is set in early 20th century China. Wong Fei-hung, along with his father Wong Kei-ying and servant Tso, is on the way home to Canton after a trip to the Northeast when he encounters Fu Wen-chi, a former top candidate in the Qing era’s military examination. After an exchange of blows, Wong and Fu accidentally switch the boxes they had been fighting over. Wong ends up with the Imperial Seal while Fu gets the ginseng that Wong’s father had bought for a client. Unknown to Wong, the Imperial Seal is one of numerous Chinese artifacts that the British consul is trying to smuggle out of China to Britain.

Back in Canton, Wong gives the client a root from his father’s favourite bonsai to pass off as the ginseng; the client falls sick after consuming the fake ginseng and his wife informs Wong’s father about it. Wong’s stepmother, Ling, complicates things when she tries to help Wong by loaning her necklace for money for Wong to buy a new ginseng; their neighbours mistakenly believe that the Wongs are in financial difficulty. In the meantime, the British consul sends his henchmen to track down Wong and seize the Imperial Seal. A fight breaks out between Wong and the henchmen when the latter try to snatch a bag from Ling, thinking that it contains the Seal. At Ling’s instigation, Wong gets drunk and uses drunken boxing to beat up the henchmen until his father shows up and stops him. The older Wong is furious at his son for embarrassing their family by getting drunk and fighting in public. To make matters worse, he learns the truth behind the ginseng and bonsai and becomes so angry that he hits his son and chases him out of the house.

When Wong tries to drown his sorrow by drinking heavily, he gets beaten up and publicly humiliated by the henchmen because he is too drunk to fight back. After his family saves him and brings him home, Wong feels deeply ashamed of his drunken behaviour and apologizes to his father. Meanwhile, Fu Wen-chi visits the Wong residence and tells them about the British consul’s smuggling operation. The next day, Fu and Wong are attacked at a restaurant by the Axe Gang, a group of thugs hired by the consul. Fu is fatally shot and the Imperial Seal is taken by the consul’s men. Before dying, Fu implores Wong and his friends to retrieve the Seal and stop the consul from stealing Chinese artifacts.

One night, Wong and his friend, Tsang, disguise themselves and break into the British consulate. They are caught, beaten up and held for ransom by the consul, who demands that Wong’s father sells his land in exchange for their release; the older Wong reluctantly agrees. Later, Wong’s friends discover that the British consul is planning to smuggle the stolen artifacts out of Canton using boxes meant for steel shipments. They inform Wong and Tsang, who then join the workers in a violent protest at the British-owned steel factory against the consul’s abuses. After a long fight, Wong and his friends defeat the consul’s henchmen and put an end to the smuggling operation. At the end of the movie, a Chinese general presents the Wongs a commemorative plaque to honour them for their service to the country.