The Legend of Drunken Master" is the latest re-release in a long string of Jackie Chan Hong Kong chopsocky flicks displaced upon American soil, and perhaps the best. Sporting fight sequences rivaled only by Bruce Lee's Kung Fu epic "Enter the Dragon" or Jet Li's "Fist of Legend," Chan's "Drunken Master" definitely earns its coveted spot amongst the very best martial arts flicks.
Legend of the Drunken Master - R
Jackie Chan, Lung Ti and Anita Mui
Showplace West 12
The film, originally released in 1994 as "Drunken Master 2," is a refreshing change of pace from the post-"Matrix" world of Kung Fu flicks which inundates such recent films as Li's "Romeo Must Die" and the upcoming "Charlie's Angels" redux. Viewers are treated to seeing Chan and his able co-stars scrap in real time, free of wires and computer effects.
Chan plays a loose variation on a 19th century Chinese folk hero. His performance is what you would expect it to be: charismatic, funny and heavily dependent upon physical comedy and miraculous stunts. No real depth, but fun and entertaining nonetheless.
Chan's character practices the art of drunken boxing (alcohol supposedly loosens the fighters' bodies, making them more agile, increasing their pain threshold and more apt to throw-down). However, there are drawbacks to this particular style of martial arts -- fighters either become great warriors at the hands of the bottle or a drunken embarrassment of their former selves.
This is the great divide that poor Jackie must cross, boozer or bruiser or both? Either way, it's super-funny seeing Jackie crack skulls and bust balls under a major stupor. Riveting fight sequences ranging from a sword-sphere battle beneath a train to a never-ending fire-laden brawl within a steel factory are certain to elicit huge responses from game audiences.
That's not to say the film is perfect. The dubbing is only moderately better than an old-school "Godzilla" flick, even if this drawback adds an element of charm to the proceedings. And whatever plot existed in "Drunken Master" is not really worth a mention, but how many people go see a Jackie Chan flick for its involved story? "The Legend of Drunken Master" serves its purpose perfectly by being a funny and enthralling piece of Kung Fu piffle.