This is the third movie in an unofficial trilogy by the Yuen Clan featuring slapstick comedy, martial arts, and supernatural fantasy and starring Yuen Cheung Yan and Yuen Yat Chor. The first two are The Miracle Fighters (1982) and Shaolin Drunkard (1983). Taoism Drunkard was directed by Yuen Cheung Yan instead of Yuen Woo Ping. Cheung Yan once again plays both a grandmother and a bucktoothed drunken priest, as he did in Shaolin Drunkard, although it seems to be a different grandmother and a different priest. Yat Chor once again plays the virginal grandson. Missing is Eddy Ko, who played a sorrowful, conflicted figure in the first two films. He is replaced here by an actress named Liu Hao Yi, playing Starry Devil, a secondary villain caught between a rock and a deadly poison.
The plot of this is typically ramshackle. The drunken priest needs to find a virgin boy to replace him at the temple. This leads to a bizarre scene in which he demands that a lineup of prospects drop trou so that he can examine the equipment. Somehow I think something got lost in the translation here.
Meanwhile Granny is training the virginal Shun-Chiu in the ways of Taoist martial arts.
The evil Old Devil is trying to steal the boy’s heritage.
The Starry Devil and her minions attack the drunken priest.
Granny arms herself.
All hell breaks loose.
Okay, to be honest I was drunk when I watched this, and I lost the plot. Which is the way it should be, because this thing is just one crazy scene after another, piling on the outrageous action and goofy jokes. I’d probably say that by the third film they are scraping the bottom of the barrel, but the judgment is beside the point. The movie was no doubt tossed off in short order to make a quick buck off the popularity of the earlier ones, and it has an anarchic ad lib energy. By the end it’s even making postmodern jokes about itself, as characters complain that they’re getting destroyed because they aren’t the stars.
It’s a clear sign that we’re at the end of a cycle. Time to move on to a new idea!