Sep 17, 2009 03:17 PM EST

The Legend of The Drunken Master Comes To Blu-ray

The Legend of The Drunken Master Comes To Blu-ray
Jackie Chan played a Chinese folk hero -- a real life, historical martial artist and Doctor, Wong Fei Hung.  The 1978 movie, Drunken Master, was a success and helped launch Jackie Chan's career as a physical comedian martial artist.  Almost two decades later, Jackie Chan created Drunken Master II which was released in America in 2004 as The Legend of the Drunken Master.  The film is in the grand tradition of Chinese Kung Fu movies and features Chan's signature comedy as well as his does-his-own-stunts style of martial arts combat.

The story centers on an evil western businessman (Louis Roth) who brutally runs a steel mill and wants to sell off Chinese historical artifacts.  He eventually comes to a clash with a martial arts school run by Wong Kei-ying (Jackie Chan's character's father). Since Roth and his various henchmen are quite willing to settle things with violence and there is a family of Kung Fu masters in their way, the results are predictable.

Of course with Kung Fu movies it isn't the why, it is the how; and Drunken Master II brings a signature form of fighting to the screen.  Jackie Chan does normal Kung Fu most of the time, but if he really has to, he breaks out the drunken fighting.  Drunken fighting imitates the forms of someone so inebriated they can't stand up straight.  They sway unpredictably, 'fall into' fighting moves, and sort of 'accidentally' dodges out of the way of attacks.

It isn't clear to me whether this form of fighting is real.  Wikipedia tells me there are several Kung Fu styles that legitimately teach "drunken forms", but it is also clear to me that no one really fights remotely like Jackie Chan does in the movie -- especially since the drunker he gets -- the better he fights, at least to a point!  In any event, it is cinematic and since you know all the stunts are really done by Jackie Chan, it is magnetic to watch.  There is a scene where he goes into a pit-filled with burning coals; you do not think it is real, but it is.  Additionally, he apparently did it more than once to 'get the movement right'.

Half of watching a Jackie Chan movie is marveling at what he is capable of.  The other half of it is being impressed with the finished product you see on the screen.  Apparently the difference between the two is months.  The final epic battle at the end of the movie takes about seven minutes.  Apparently they only got seconds of footage each day and it required something like four months to film.  It is worth it. If you care about KunFu battles, even a little, it is an extreme display of what the human body is capable of.

The Blu Ray edition looks as awesome as you would expect. The sound is fine, and the movie is minimally scored. Apparently though, Jackie Chan sings the theme music himself.  It is light on extras. There is an interview with Jackie Chan that is notable for showing some of the outtakes from the filming. They are mostly of Jackie Chan hurting himself while trying something that would kill an ordinary man. That is cringe-inducing, but well worth a watch. You can also hear him talk about how he had to do red-drunken face without makeup since he was too sweaty for it.

I would hesitate to call a 1994 movie a classic, as we just don't know yet. Certainly though this shows you why Jackie Chan has the following he does; and if you're new to Kung Fu movies, it would be a good place to start since it hits most of the common notes.  If you're in the market, I recommend it.

Rating - B

Purchase your copy today at or rent it from Blockuster Total Access

FlickDirect Movie Editor, Marco Chacon
Marco Chacon, Senior Editor
Marco Chacon isn't quite sure what he's doing here. Exposed to radioactive movies at a young age he has gained the proportional strength and agility of celluloid which hasn't proved good for much. However, on the Internet, it's opinion that counts (who needs facts!?) and Marco sure has one of those. Several, in fact. Some contradictory. He has written and published the JAGS RPG which you've never heard of. He's still waiting for Revenge of the Jedi to come out.

Favorite Films: Alien, Aliens, Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Kill Bill, Pulp Fiction, Terminator, Video Drome
Favorite Directors: James Cameron
Favorite Actors: Danny Divito, Edward Norton, Uma Thurman
Favorite Genres: Action, Sci-fi/Fantasy, Horror
Favorite Television:Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
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