The Legend of Drunken Master (1994)
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Fe-Hung doles out justice throughout the film with his unique fighting style, drunken boxing, despite ridicule by his opponents, insisting that drunken boxing is inferior. Needless to say, Jackie proves them wrong.
Historically speaking, the real Huang Fe-Hung did not use drunken boxing at all. In fact, he was a practioner of the much more effective style of Kung Fu called Hung-Gar. And his exploits can be alikened more to the Jesse James of America's old west. But Fe-Hung was more commonly found fighting for the underdog and battling tyranny. However, of all the innumerable depictions of Huang Fe-Hung "DRUNKEN MASTER 2" is by far the best.
This movie can be described as a "Big Budget" Kung Fu movie, done in a very traditional period style. The cinematography, direction, action sequencing, writing, and story line are all TOP KNOTCH. There has never been a Kung Fu movie made that is "better" than this one. And there has never been better fight choreography.
As you might well expect, there are some breath-taking stunts. And this is the movie that has the fire stunt responsible for Jackie's skin graft on his arm. He did not get burned so severly until the THIRD take! He wasn't happy with the first two. And if that is not painful enough to watch, then check out the fight against the Ax Gang, when one member gets knocked of the up-stairs portion of the restaraunt and slams into a cross beam before smashing in to the floor.
If you are looking for the best martial arts flick ever, this is it.
Ken Lo owned the **** out of this movie. His final fight against Jackie is awesome. Jackie plays WFH (the often portrayed Wong Fei Hung), a martial artist of great skill and also a drunken boxer. His father, also a master, dislikes Drunken boxing.
The plot of this movie isn't all that bad, but you watch it for the action anyways and there's plenty to go around and it's simply astounding!
It's a classical Jackie movie, with some silly moments and prop using during the fights, wicked stunts (some of which are (naturally) really dangerous) and brilliantly choreographed combat!
With a decent plot, good acting, and a dash of humor to go along with the frenzied action, Legend of Drunken Master is one of those rare complete martial arts films that do more than just throw fights at you. Honestly, there has yet to be a perfect martial arts film. Whether its bad acting, a weak plot, too much focus on action, a pointless romantic story attached, or way too over-the-top substance, there hasn't been a martial arts film worthy of being up there with the best films in the modern era. Jui Kuen II (as they call it overseas) is the closest to the complete package as you can get.
We start the film off with Jackie Chan as the tough yet uncontrollable young kid by the name of Wong Fei-hung who accidentally takes a seal from British smugglers. The smugglers, also involved in overworking Chinese men in a factory resembling slave-like sweatshop of some sort, want the seal back. In the meantime, Wong's controversial fighting technique, drunken boxing, has been met by disapproval of his father, and wants him to refrain from ever using it. Drunken boxing also has a lot of competition and shun from others in the community. Chaos follows as soon as the British and their henchmen find out who has the seal, and vow to do whatever it takes to get it back and to spread fear in the community.
The plot isn't groundbreaking, but its something different than the average martial arts film. While it still contains the themes of family, honor, respect, and dignity contained in most Chinese movies of this genre, the preservation of Chinese art is a concept not used often. Nonetheless, it works, as we see the traditional values of the Chinese being threatened by the more modern mechanisms of the Europeans. There is also a major issue with honor, as Wong's father is morally against drunken boxing, and hates it when his reputation is damaged even a little. The acting involved with the tension amongst Chan and his family is at times a bit overblown, but for the most part gets the job right.
Jackie Chan is one of the few actors/actresses in modern cinema history that can both be taken seriously and lightly. We see Chan at his playful side, especially when he is drunk. But, take away the smile, watch him pose, and you will fear him. Seeing that look in his eye right before a major fight starts can send shivers down your spine, as you know he will not back down easy, and will use whatever technique necessary to take you out. His physical appearance isn't exactly intimidating, but his agility and amazing ability to be balanced and whip out an insane combo of punches and kicks remains to be matched by anyone else out there. The best of Chan is here in terms of acting, usage of props, and kung fu. Don't let his usage of props fool you, he can engage in a brutal victory without the use of any objects. Few Jackie Chan films prove this, but Drunken Master has its share of fights without any other objects floating around.
The fights are what Chan is best known for, and the fights are where the film excels towards jaw-dropping levels. From the first fight, involving swords and extending from underneath a train to a nearby house, to the final fight that lasts over 10 minutes without exaggeration; Drunken Master will wow you, will keep you on the edge of your seat, and will make you almost jump back in amazement. Hollywood does not have enough patience to spend four months on one fight alone, which is why we don't see fights in action films like the ones seen here. The final fight, involving a well-trained kicker and Chan at his drunkest stage is easily one of the best fights in historyit's so well choreographed, so well-timed, and so brilliantly executed, that it deserves a spot on one of modern film's greatest achievements. Raising the bar for generations to come, the last fight mixes speed, agility, humor, combos, fast movements, and unbelievable stunts. In truth, all the clashes prior do the same, but this one puts all the others to shame.
Bottom Line: Missing this film would be a travesty, especially if you enjoy a good martial arts film. This time its not Chan alone that makes the film; we have a good cast of characters and fighters, a decent plot, and never really drifts into an unbelievable level unlike most action movies of today. This is Chan at his absolute best; and this is famed director Chia-Liang Liu at his best. Almost a complete package in terms of quality and substance, Legend of Drunken Master is as close as you can get to martial arts perfection; and remains the greatest martial arts film of all-time.
I first saw this movie during the US theater release. I was impressed and bought it as soon as it came out on DVD. However, I was shocked by the lack of a Cantonese audio track. The English dubbing appeared to make the movie seem goofy, not funny, and I was getting sick of it. Eventually, I was able to get the original Hong Kong version on DVD. There are significant differences which make the original better. As expected, the humor level is much milder and not so queer. Also, the US version now seems to lack the ferocity of the original. The Hong Kong version uses the `traditional' low-quality sound effects for the fight sequences. This detracts from the realism, but it's an integral part of defining any true kung fu `classic'. The US version now appears to be more like sparring than fighting because the hits appear much softer. Also, the original musical score was better than the US release. Don't get me wrong: I am not Chinese, nor a student of foreign film -- I'm not even a major Chan fanatic. But, if you have a chance, please see this movie the way it was originally intended. I believe you will appreciate it even more.
Either way, I rate this movie a perfect 10 because I have not yet found a better fighting film.
An appreciation of turn-of-the-century China does help, but even without it, the film remains incredibly entertaining. The kung-fu choreography is interwoven with a well-written story which should instil pride in any Chinese moviegoer.
Even Chan's acting is excellent, as the young Wong Fei Hung who develops his "drunken boxing" style - a type of kung-fu which is aided by the consumption of alcohol. However, his father forbids his son's drinking, fearing that he will not know when to stop. His stepmother is encouraging, hoping to put her stepson on the map in the local community. The rapport between the characters is superb and realistically acted by the players. The martial arts' choreography here is among the best in any film.
Of Chan's movies set in an earlier time period, Jui Kuen II must rank as his best. An excellent example of the genre.
Here's the deal: movies need to be cinematic and fights are cinematic so we have them.
Movies fall into two rough buckets: various concepts of sincerity and those that have (incorrectly as it turns out) been conflated under the concept of irony. Anything that exists in the first eventually has a sibling in the second; that's the way the world works.
So if you have fights, even elaborate kung fu productions that are sincere, sooner or later someone will figure out how to annotate them. Chan was the guy that found a way to turn fights into a show and at the same time produce a simultaneous commentary that says: "watch this, its funny."
To do the annotation, a requirement is that first level be excellent. Chan IS an excellent fight performer, and key to this awareness is the much publicized fact that no cheating is done on the effects. But he also a great humorist as well.
This particular film isn't the turning point for all fight irony that follows. That was much earlier, but this is probably the best and most explicit.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
The plot follows Chan as a young man who is a master in the art of drunken fighting (drinking before and druing a fight to gain action) who has to go up against art theieves and family betrayers. This plot is somewhat thin, and the dubbing makes The Crippled Masters look like Das Boot. But, the entertainment factor kicks in, and we see terrific fun. Only liability: this is a remake of the film that originally made Chan a celebrity in China, but in this film he is playing the same character (and he's 40). But still, it is a good enough film to almost not notice. A-
any acting honors (his repetoire consists of roughly three expressions), the lady who plays his stepmother is a real find (think Lucille Ball). This would be a "10" with better dubbing and if Chan had been believable as a young man. This is a movie I'll proudly add to my collection, and watch at least once a year just for the stunts, the beautiful cinematography and the terrific martial arts.
The troubled relationship between Chan and Liu Chia Liang came to an end at the safest place in the film - the moment when the general played by Liu dies. At any rate the tone of the film changes radically there, and some of the plot of the first half of the film gets lost there, the remainder of the film being a traditional Wong Fei Hung adventure. I.e., the story is traditional to the genre, but the film actually develops a more rapid contemporary pace. This is disappointing, since before Liu's leaving the film, it was really about the volatile relationship between Fei Hung and his father, Wong Kay Yi. (Wong's father, BTW, is played by Ti Lung in what may be the best role, and the best straight acting performance, of his career.) The stunts are rather subdued for Chan, and so is the comedy, although Anita Mui as Wong Fe Hung's step-mother is marvelous. But the Kung-fu is very neatly choreographed and packaged, so that we only get enough action to be pleased but wanting more. Such a balance is very difficult to achieve.
Over all, an extremely entertaining martial arts film - even for those who don't like martial arts.
Hong Kong action comedy full of over-the-top struggles , excitement , thrills , ingenious stunts , slapstick , lots of fights but with abundant humor and tongue-in-cheek . This bemusing movie is packed with adventure , intrigue , unstopped action , and overwhelming stunt-work , in fact , the seven-minute fight at the end of the film took nearly four months to shoot , Jackie Chan indicated that one day's filming typically produces three seconds of usable film . Jackie Chan is top notch as one army man fighting a group of heinous villains and as always he makes his own stunts like is well showed . Awesome , incredible stunts and brief comic touches , as usual ; the picture is better constructed than Chan's predecessors films . The lighting-paced storyline slows down at times , but frantic action sequences make up for it . Spotlights movie include spectacular brawls , including bounds and leaps , impressive and interminable fights , a breathtaking final struggle between Jackie Chan and enemies . Jackie Chan actually crawled over the burning hot coals two times , he felt he "didn't have the right rhythm" the first time he did it . In addition other fine action sequences in overwhelming style . This is an acceptable action movie distinguished by nicely cinematography of the spectacular sequences , and contains agreeable sense of humor such as previous entries . Jackie Chan usually forms couple to notorious actresses as Maggie Chung and Michelle Yeoh . In this outing Jackie teams up again to prestigious Chinese actress Anita Mui , who plays his stepmother , a fine action star in their own right but sadly she early died by cancer . Both of them starred together several films such as ¨ Mr Canton and Lady Rose¨ and ¨Rumble Bronx¨ .
The ¨Wong Fei Hung¨ role is a Chinese historic character who has been played by several actors , as Tak Hing in numerous films , the same Jackie Chan in ¨Drunken monkey in the tiger's eyes (1978)¨ and Jet Li in ¨One upon a time a hero in China¨ series , ¨Dr Wong in America¨ and recently Sammo Hung in the recent version of ¨Around the world in 80 days¨ also starred by Chan . ¨Jui Kuen II¨ is a good action movie distinguished by fight sequences , noisy action and packs silly sense of humor as well as Jackie's subsequent entries . The picture achieved big success in China and all around the world . However , Jackie Chan's failed at Box-office in his American debut ,¨Battle creek brawl¨ . Chan is a hard-working actor and director throughout his long and varied career . Chan usually pays overt homage to two of his greatest influences as Charles Chaplin and Harold Lloyd . He went on playing ¨Cannoball¨ , ¨The protector¨ and "Rumble in the Bronx", until getting all American success with ¨Shangai Knights¨ , ¨The tuxedo¨ , ¨Around the world in 80 days¨ and ¨Rush hour¨ trilogy , and the recent ¨Karate kid¨. Of course , his biggest hits were ¨The Police story¨ series that won the Golden Horse Award, a Chinese version of the Oscar , the first was titled ¨Police story (1985)¨ directed by the same Chan , it was a perfect action film for enthusiastic of the genre ; the following was ¨Police story 2 (1988)¨ also pretty violent and with abundant humor touches . It's followed by ¨Supercop¨ or ¨Police story 3¨ and finally , ¨Police story IV : Crime story¨ . The picture is well produced by the great Asian producer Raymond Chow and Golden Harvest production and compellingly directed by Chia Liu and completed by Jackie Chan . Rating : Acceptable and passable , the picture has its sensational moments here and there , but also with abundant humor touches mostly provided by its agile star , the super Jackie stunningly accompanied by Anita Mui and Lung Ti . It's a perfect action film for enthusiasts of the genre and especially for Jackie fans .
The other fight scenes in the movie are almost just as good, the film features Jackie getting drunk and fighting his enemies using Drunken Fist which makes for hugely entertaining bouts.
Unlike most of Jackie Chans movies, this doesn't have any stunts or any strictly comedy related antics, and instead is held up by the sheer quality of the fight scenes.
Obviously the plot is completely irrelevant, and in this film it doesn't matter as the fights come thick and fast, and leave no chance you leaving you underwhelmed.
Fei Hung is a well intentioned but arrogant fighter who learned his technique from his father, a master of drunken boxing. Yes, you read that correctly. Jackie Chan wobbles around, moving as if he is about to fall over at every second during his fighting, while simultaneously performing completely ridiculous moves such as the "flirting woman" and the "wheelbarrow", making a fool out of his enemies, and occasionally himself in the process. Due to its comedic tone, a lot of sound effects that I would regularly find exaggerated blend right in, because the movie is just that. His father, the master, encourages passivity and restraint in fighting, while his mother, who also happens to be quite skilled, encourages him to fight every fight with all he's got. However, when his type of fighting is fueled by drinking loads of alcohol, this is a recipe for disaster, and despite always trying to help others, he is torn between the encouragement of his mother and the restrictions of his father.
Credit is certainly due to Jackie Chan for his physical performance, but much of the effect of the action scenes is due to the director, Chia Liang Liu. He knew that the way to direct Jackie Chan was with wide angle shots that only cut when necessary, to see the full view of his stunts and choreography. Also, our hero doesn't always win. We see him disowned by his father and beaten down by his enemies again and again. This allows us to feel that our hero is imperfect and it's possible that he could lose with each set piece. It also shows that what really makes him a hero is his perseverance and eagerness to get back up and try to improve despite being knocked down so often. This is what allowed for such creative, intense, and hilarious action set pieces as the fight against the crowds of men with axes, in which he ducks and dodges and uses wooden benches and tables and anything in his environment as weapons to defend himself, narrowly avoiding defeat each time. Or the fight in which he takes on several men at once, while simultaneously being thrown bottle after bottle of liquor and proceeding to pour each one down his throat. With Jackie Chan constantly pulling off this perfect balancing act, it's easy to ignore that the reason the English ambassador fires all his workers is never really explained, and his motivation for letting Jackie Chan and his friend go doesn't quite make sense, because those really are small complaints in what is really one of the rare movies that continues to genuinely surprise, impress, and entertain for its entire runtime.
The story isn't necessarily incomprehensible, though it seems to try very hard to be. I get the distinct impression that there was either difficulty in getting all the coverage required for the plot, or that the editor had a very fuzzy understanding of how to put all the scenes together in a way which made sense, mostly it feels like the former. At a certain point it literally feels like scenes are missing from the film. It doesn't ruin the experience, but it makes it difficult to be especially invested in the characters and their motivations. Speaking of characters, they're mostly fine I guess. Jackie Chan at least represents some kind of arc or emotional conflict that the audience can get involved in. For the most part though, a lot of characters feel underdeveloped to the point of being sort of place-holders. I guess the main takeaway is that this film would be kind of bad if not for the martial arts.
The martial arts and accompanying stunt work in this film is of the highest caliber. It's sort of to be expected of a Jackie Chan feature, but even so, there are some fights in this film which seem to defy all conventions of action and the laws of physics. Admittedly, a lot of it is pretty cornball. The sort of levity which is characteristic of a lot of the action is very fitting I think. It better compliments the light comedic tone of this film than more serious encounters might have. I mean, the fighting can often be a lot funnier than the sort of weird attempts at humor that come during the "down time". I'm not trying to undermine the legitimate tension that comes during some of the fighting. I'm just saying that the tone of the action fits very well into the rest of the film.
Despite the largely messy story, the martial arts action in this film is executed with absolute mastery. It's worth checking out by virtue of its highlights. Go for it, it's good.
Let me start with the fighting, the martial arts and stunts in this movie are great. I was really impressed by all the things Jackie Chan is able to do over his 40. Jackie Chan has a very distinctive style of martial arts in which he combines slapstick with fighting as he uses his environment as means to defeat his enemies.
The comedy in this movie was great. I was laughing out loud through many parts of the movie, specially when he uses the now famous Drunk Boxing, which is hilarious to see. Jackie Chan's acting really sells all the crazy things that are happening. And the rest of the characters are equally entertaining.
One thing I was not expecting was this movie to have serious moments. But surprisingly, it did. When Jackie Chan was not drunk or fighting, there were some very interesting scenes with his father.
The only downside I can think of with this movie is the story. The story, in my opinion, is not really that interesting and it is hard to be hooked in it. It is the most generic story and I believe the first one has a much more interesting story.
The story gets its kickstart from Fei-hung's own playful antics when he smuggles ginseng root into a suitcase in order to avoid paying tax and somehow stumbles onto a plot to smuggle Chinese artifacts out of the country and sell them for profit. Along with the stern, no-nonsense traditional father figure, who has his work cut out trying to prevent Fei-hung from abusing his talent, there are also the undercurrents of nationalism that usually find their way into Jackie's movies. Yet for all his theatrics and impassionate pleas to the Chinese thugs on the other side, the climax isn't a battle of intellect, but a purely physical spar. He makes his assault on the moody, murky steel mill, which with its mine carts, barrels of dirt, metal rods and giant pulverisers prove a useful playground for his action staging. The implicit suggestion is that if Jackie Chan can beat up all of these enemies, he inexplicably solves the case and wins the game - and fans wouldn't have it any other way. They don't watch his movies for the intricate plot.
The marvel of Jackie Chan's action is as precise as any of the silent film masters, or the choreography of the lavish musicals of the Hollywood Golden Age. Every jab is weighted precisely, every blow sounding with the same cartoonish 'whack!', and the humour he creates from weaving in and out of the environment, balancing and switching around props, all with that goofy grimace on his face, is second to none. I've always maintained that the only thing more deadly than Jackie Chan is Jackie Chan in a furniture store, with a baby in one hand, and a priceless vase in the other. Same may have possess his bravery (Tom Cruise comes to mind), but no western action star has the patience and technique to perform the way he does, in the style of fighting that he does, filming the long takes that let the fighting evolve naturally. The Wachowskis recognised this Hong Kong brand of action cinema and brought over the legendary Yuen Woo-Ping to marry the kinetic, rapid style with their Matrix movies. Quentin Tarantino would do the same with his Kill Bill two parter. But there's nothing like the real thing. And taking a peek at his usual credits gag reel only further reveals the painstaking (literally) lengths the man will go towards getting the right take, the right balance of humour and athleticism. His scenes make no attempt at masking the physicality and authenticity of the stunts: when we see him stumble and fall onto a bed of hot coals, that's really happening, and those scars are the real deal. Jackie Chan is now over sixty, and yet is still making movies, and performing stunts of his own, although at a understandably gentler pace. He should not be taken for granted.
Surprisingly, my favorite thing about the movie is not Chan's fighting but rather a wonderful comic performance by Anita Mui as Chan's stepmom. I never really understood why she was always so intent to help Chan at the expense of her husband, but she was wildly entertaining.
The story is mainly coherent and moves well, and Chan does offer up some terrific fights, but I would not be as inclined as some here to declare this Chan's best movie. (caveat, I had a terrible cold when I watched this movie, which honestly could have affected my perception somewhat.)
At around the hour mark we get the first signs of greatness with the arrival of the "axe gang", hundreds of hoods who attempt to destroy our hero in a tavern. The action is fast and furious with Jackie using tables and bamboo canes to fight off numerous attackers, whilst director Chia-Liang Liu also gets in on the action! However, this does not prepare us for the finale of the movie, a twenty-minute battle in a steelworks factory. Hands down, the finale of this film contains the best action Chan has ever put on screen. He is nimble, funny, and does some great stunts with props and fire, so that everything looks dangerous. The fights are hard-hitting, and super-kicker Ken Lo is incredible as his chief opponent who comes out of nowhere to fight to the finish. A brilliant and protracted martial arts fight plays out, impeccably choreographed and definitely the best of Jackie's long career in terms of style, excitement, and pure incredible adrenaline-pumping superhuman manoeuvres. The ending alone makes this classic material and a strong contender for Jackie's best ever movie.
In 2005, "Drunken Master II" was named one of the top 100 best films of all time by Time magazine. Wow. It is good, sure, but one of the top 100 of all time? Would it even be in the top ten for martial arts films? Time magazine thinks so.
Roger Ebert wrote, "When I did a seminar at the Hawaii Film Festival several years ago, comparing the physical comedy of Chan and Buster Keaton, martial arts fans brought in their bootleg Hong Kong laser discs of this film." This is an astute point. While they have a very different kind of genre from each other, Keaton and Chan are very much two sides of the same coin: comedy and action, through a complete control of their own bodies.