Drink, Drank, Drunk Review
Siu Man (Miriam Yeung) is a beer promotion girl, doing the rounds of bars and getting customers to buy their drinks, but she and her partners are facing stiff competition from younger, pushier and more glamorous competitors. The girls also find customers increasingly demanding, especially those who know of Siu Man’s reputation as ‘Ms Never Gets Drunk’. On her way home from one such particularly difficult day’s work, where she has also had to fight off the advances of her brother-in-law Brother 9, she helps a drunk man get home, but he ends up staying at her house for a while. The man is Michel or Michael (Daniel Wu) – the owner of a failing French restaurant. It has always been Siu Man’s dream to open her own coffee shop, so the two of them come to an arrangement to share the restaurant. Siu Man is approaching 30 and her friends hope that there may also be romance on the horizon for her, but there are a few problems – because of previous bad experiences, Siu Man is deeply mistrustful of men who drink heavily, while Michael – only in Hong Kong as part of his travels across the world – doesn’t want to be tied down and is starting to feel it is time to be moving again.
The premise of Drink, Drank, Drunk doesn’t sound promising and it’s not a particularly inspiring area for comedy. Worryingly, in the opening scenes, it seems to be pandering to laddish drinking culture, with lots of leering looks at the beer girls, plenty of product placement for Budweiser, male bravado drinking games with girls who never get drunk, and the inevitable scenes of vomiting. The lowering of the comedy bar to lad culture in Hong Kong films doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, as the very funny AV showed in its story of a group of young lads who decide to make their own porno film. However, Drink, Drank, Drunk soon moves away from these themes which might have presented it with something of a challenge and settles into rather less demanding genre, ending up as a rather sappy romantic comedy.
Again, despite the predictability of the setup and inevitability of the outcome, this shouldn’t necessarily be a problem, particularly if you have a couple of strong actors and some good supporting actors to bolster the more outrageous comedy routines. Miriam Yeung (Three... Extremes, Dumplings) and Daniel Wu (Divergence, Everlasting Regret) are generally fine in their roles, both having a fair bit of charm and the right amount of differences to allow their characters to have some degree of friction and issues to overcome (the ten rules for living together is one of the funniest scenes in the film) – but neither the characters nor the actors are particularly inspiring. Certainly neither of them, for example, come anywhere close to Tony Leung or Faye Wong’s wacky charm in Chungking Express, the high-mark for the Hong Kong romantic comedy – neither in the acting stakes not in the imaginativeness of their characters and situations. The supporting characters ought to at least be a bit more lively with Vincent Kok as Siu Man’s gay employer and the attention she gets from Alex Fong’s gang-leader Brother 9. They do each have a few good moments, notably Brother 9’s experience of eating particularly revolting looking French food, but they are surprisingly low-key, reserved performances in a film that demands a little more verve and eccentricity.
Most disappointingly however, the film itself never tackles the subjects or the situations it raises with any conviction. The central theme of drunkenness is rather half-heartedly dealt with – Siu Man is advised by friends that it is only by getting drunk that she and Michael can express their feelings, but Siu Man is distrustful of any man who can only express his emotions and inner feelings while drunk only to forget them as soon as he is sober again. This is a fairly lightweight theme for a comedy routine and it neither convincingly conveys the hurt that alcohol has inflicted on the lives of both characters in the past, nor is even a necessary plot device – Michael we are well aware is quite capable of speaking his mind without being drunk. The couple never really seem that committed either to their coffee shop/restaurant enterprise, it being used really only for one comedy routine and then mostly forgotten about in the rather slack mid-section of the film. It’s brought back together with the high-class restaurant owner (Jing Hu) who lures Michael to work as head-chef in her restaurant and has romantic designs on the young man as well. This is the necessary catalyst that brings the film and the characters to their inevitable conclusion, but in between the film seems to hop from situation to situation without any real drive or conviction.
Drink Drank Drunk is released in Hong Kong by Panorama. The dual-layer DVD is in NTSC format and is Region 0. The feature includes optional English subtitles.
The print used for the transfer is relatively clean, with only infrequent, minor marks and scratches. There are decent levels of brightness and contract with reasonable shadow detail. Colours look well, but occasionally a little bright or yellowish. Due to some combing issues, the image is never quite perfectly sharp, edges sometimes looking a little soft or jagged. Overall, the transfer looks well, particularly on a small screen, but its limitations are more apparent on larger displays.
Likewise, the audio track mainly performs well, but when it is pushed, it does show limitations. On the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, the voices are very low and unclear on the centre channel, but this is probably down to the conditions of the original recording – elsewhere the use of music and surround effects shows strength, clarity and roundness of tone. The LFE channel however sounds a little bit booming when pushed to its limits – which is not often.
Optional English subtitles are provided in a clear white font. There are some peculiarities in the grammar, but in the main it translates the film well, even allowing some wordplay comedy to work.
There are no subtitles however for the extra features, but they are nevertheless worth a scan through. NG Shots (10:50) presents nine outtake scenes of the actors messing-up their lines – but there are no subtitles here. There are four Deleted Scenes (6:48), two of which are slightly extended versions of scenes in the film. A bright and zippy Making Of (14:22) is of the EPK variety, with snippets of interviews, scenes from the film and some behind-the-scenes footage. Trailers are included for Drink Drank Drunk (1:29), the HK lesbian drama Butterfly (2:19), the flashy ‘Infernal Affairs/Divergence’-style actioner Set To Kill (2:51) and Derek Yee’s 2 Young.
Drink Drank Drunk isn’t a bad film – it has a couple of nice performances from a likeable and capable cast who are unfortunately restricted by a fairly routine romantic comedy plot. Panorama’s DVD release is pretty good, with a fine but not exceptional transfer and a limited selection of unsubtitled extra features.