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First Episode 28: 醉侠张三 (Drunken Master Zhang San)

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A part of the Grand First Episode Project -- See this thread for more info.

Emule (very slow recently!) youku

"Drunken Master Zhang San", light-hearted gongfu comedy/adventure about a young gongfu master and his adventures. We're starting with episode 3 (linked above) which introduces most of the main characters. Don't expect great quality out of this, but it's quite fun and easy to follow once the story gets started. It becomes a hodge-podge of anything and everything.


Some background: We are following 张三, a talented martial artist, whose parents make wine in a small village in 湖南, training in a local school under master 杜. His job as the only son is to taste and evaluate the wine. The only problem with this is that he can't tolerate alcohol, and even the smallest amount makes him lose control. His gongfu becomes even better when he's drunk, but uncontrollable.

His (prearranged) fiancée is 彩莲, the daughter of a tofu salesman, whose gongfu is also feared in the village. She is kind of crude and loud, though, and 张三 is actually infatuated with his distant cousin 若彤 (彩莲's childhood friend), who is educated and lady-like, and holds reading and poetry lessons for local girls.

The setting is late Qing Dynasty, at least that's what I can gather, so the capital they speak of should be Beijing.


张三 is about to leave to the capital and study medicine with his aunt, a famous pharmacist. He is talking to 彩莲 about it, before they are interrupted by two of her friends asking for her intervention because two friends are fighting over a guy. She storms off to find which one he likes better. We get to see why 张三 finds her to be bossy, though she tries her hardest to act like a soft, feminine girl, she doesn't quite manage.

若彤 is at home telling here parents that they are taking such good care of her that if she leaves one day, she will be completely helpless and silly. Hr father thinks she's looking for a husband,but she is actually trying to soften her parents up and get some independence, as she dreams of going to the capital to study. The father thinks it's too far for a girl, but she flatters him that he's so enlightened an progressive, so he should let her go. In the end, she decides for them.

Meanwhile, in the capital, we meet two young Taoist monks, 德成 and 德禄 , who deliver some gold to a local businessman and their friend, 六爷. They joke about getting paid, but it is obvious that they would not accept money for their favours. 德禄 tries to enter a local gambling house, looking for his father, but isn't let in. At home, he meets his father and gives him money, but his father tries to convince him to drop the Taoist way and resume regular life.

Later, he runs into a runaway monk who turned to crime and alcohol. He tries (unsuccessfully) to get him to return to their monastery. Back at the monastery, he gets some advice from an older priest.

Back in the village, 张三's teacher gives him a letter for a priest called 白道人 who he should continue training with in the capital. He says not to blame him for always being strict towards him. 张三 says farewell to his friends. As he boards the boat, he says goodbye to his parents and 彩莲, who finds it hard to part with him and tries to come along, but he convinces her to stay and take care of their parents.

In the capital, 德禄 meets 春花, his girlfriend (and 张三's cousin) who is reading banned books, which she hides behind the altar.

彩莲 comes to 若彤's girl class late and apparently smelling like tofu, which doesn't exactly make her popular. 若彤 protects her hard working friend, saying that hard work is a type of happiness and something to be proud of, and that they should be more like her, and that she can't smell tofu anyway, so the girls apologise. 彩莲 recites a poem to show her knowledge, which impresses everyone. On the way home, 彩莲 brings some presents to 张三's parents, they tell her it's not needed, as they're all family anyway. But they have an idea -- she should test the alcohol now that 张三 is gone. But the start is a bit rocky, she seems to favour the cheapest wine they have.

Soon, however, she starts working at the shop, and her approachable character attracts new customers. This leaves her father working alone, though, so she takes a jug of wine to him as a present. The father is not too happy that she is leaving him to work alone.

Back in the capital, 德禄's father is gambling as usual, and the rogue monk (can't find his name right now) tries to convince him to lend him money, but he refuses. 张三 is still on the boat, writing a letter after travelling for over a month, getting close to the capital now. 彩莲 is practising caligraphy at night, and helping her father (while writing poetry) and her future in-laws during the day. She's making great progress in identifying different types of wine. She also teaches the girls in her class some gongfu, which makes them appreciate her even more.

张三 arrives in the capital and is greeted by his cousin 春贵, whom he doesn't recognise at first. He's also an apprentice with his mother, the famous pharmacist. The pharmacy is full of people because on that day, they are distributing medicine for free, and he meets his cousin 春花 who, unlike her brother, is pretty and clever. After promising to teach 春贵 some Taijiquan, he goes looking for the Taoist monk to teach him. On the way there, he fixes up a man who got injured by a runaway horse and earns the gratitude of 六爷.


不自量力 bù zì liàng li overrate one's own abilities

居然 jū rán go so far as to

反目成仇 fǎn mù chéng chóu to have a fall-out, become enemies

老话 lǎo huà old saying, adage

蹬开 dèng kāi ??? (run away??)

支持 zhī chí to support

疼爱 téng ài love dearly

名贵 míng guì precious, rare

珍 zhēn precious thing; treasure

押镖 yā biāo (I guess this is a precious load being escorted)

不知好歹 bù zhī hǎo dǎi one does not know that one is already treated well and is somewhat un-thankful

有惊无险 the anticipated or close call to danger or risk did not materialize

道士 dào shì Taoist scholar

穿州过省 ??? (to roam??)

顺利 shùn lì smoothly

修道 xiū dào a priest, to become a priest

还俗 huán sú resume normal life (of Taoist priests)

流浪 liú làng roam; be homeless

道观 dào guàn Taoist monastery

修炼 xiū liàn practice asceticism (of Taoists)

烦恼 fán nǎo agonize

严厉 yán lì severe; strict

埋怨 mán yuàn (v) complain

保重 bǎo zhòng take care of oneself

传递 chuán dì (v) transmit on; pass on to someone else

免费 miǎn fèi free (of charge)

迟钝 chí dùn slow (witted)

This is quite a silly show, on many levels, but don't let it throw you off completely (the intro sequence is particularly silly). It's very easy to watch in large quantities, doesn't burden your mind with existentialist depression or heavy emotional load, and has a number of story arcs. The fighting scenes are also quite good, I believe there are two Wushu champions acting in here (they can't act, but nobody in this show can :mrgreen:)

The level is intermediate. Big chunks are very easy, but the older people, court officials and monks tend to talk in a more classical-style way and use lots of old words, so there is some challenge. You can follow without much trouble even if you don't pick up every single word though.

People looking for serious drama should avoid this in a wide arc, but people who are just looking for some fun way to practice Chinese will find lots of plots in here, a huge number of characters, including Qing court officials, corrupt businessmen, noble Taoist monks, crafty thieves, foreigners with outrageous mustaches who can't pronounce tones right (but still get the best girls), the Empress mother, failed Taoist monks, honest businessmen, cheeky teenagers, motivated knowledge-seeking emancipated women, and a million other things.

Edited by renzhe

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穿州 and 过省 means the same thing. It is constructed like a four character 成语 and therefore is not intented to be used separately . Same is true for 反目成仇, which is indeed a 成语.

不知好歹 means one does not know that one is already treated well and is somewhat un-thankful.

有惊无险 means the anticipated or close call to danger or risk did not materialize.

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Thanks a lot for your assistance! Such help is always appreciated.

Unfortunately, my concise dictionary didn't have all the things I was looking for. I guess it's time for a bigger dictionary and a chengyu dictionary....

How would you translate 穿州过省? To roam around? Travel to and fro?

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How would you translate 穿州过省? To roam around? Travel to and fro?

Well, literally it means pass through prefectures and pass through provinces, so I guess so. Reminds me a bit of the English expression "up hill and down dale", but you are obviously covering a serious amount of ground if you are leaving whole prefectures and provinces behind you.

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