by Jason Whyte
I know that many people detest, even hate, Jackie Chan the person or the actor, or even his films, but I think that anyone for a passion of choreography or movement, or even humour that comes out of it, can appreciate Chan in some way.After all, he does his own stunts and all the fighting scenes (well, sometimes there are doubles, but not is the case here), he has a good sense of humour, and he is handsome and a good leading man. North American audiences have been somewhat kind to his films; movies like the hilarious "Rush Hour" and "Shanghai Noon", both films that sort of parody Chan and have breakout stars that come out with him (Chris Tucker and Owen Wilson, respectively), and most of his imports have been well recieved.
It couldn't be more true than the reissue of his 1994 Hong Kong film "The Legend of Drunken Master," which is now dubbed and released to North American audiences. And by far, it is one of the best Chan films I have seen. It would be fun if the distributors of Chan's imports (Dimension, New Line) would re-release some of his earlier films to cinemas here as well. But this one will do for now.
"Drunken Master," as the title suggests, is the claim that being drunk enough can lead to better fighting, or "drunken boxing." The basic plot involves Chan and fighting with smugglers of Chinese artifacts, and gets wound up with baddling the bad guys on booze, which amazingly works in this story. Just go with it.
The plot may not matter in "Drunken Master," but at least there is a decent one there. There are even a few nice moments with Chan's mother in the film (A hilarious Anita Mui) and his father, who disowns him at one point due to his drunken boxing. As well, the plot points serve up some interesting ideas to handle the action.
And boy, is there action. There are several fight scenes throughout the film that are the best of Chan's work, including a fight under a train with an artifact thief, a fight at a bar where bamboo poles are used like you could never imagine, and a standout drunken boxing scene where Chan seems to be able to bend over sideways and back up again.
However, nothing prepared me for the final fight sequence, which involves Chan battling his arch nemesis (a fascinating Ken Lo) in a 15 minute battle that tests not only every single stunt that can be performed in a bare knuckle kung-fu fest, but the adrenaline rate of viewers. It left me breathless, laughing, light headed and dazzled. The choreography is so wild and awesome that it beats most action films released these days."The Legend of Drunken Master" is a rich and stunning entry in Jackie Chan's resume. Director Lau Ka Leung deserves much acclaim for this masterpiece of kung fu cinema, even with some plot holes, bad dubbing and sub-standard outtakes at the end, which are just a few shots of the aftermath of stunts. Even so, this will no doubt make a few fans out of those who haven't seen Chan before, and restore faith in anyone who thinks it is all been there, done that.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=1436&reviewer=350
originally posted: 07/09/04 13:44:18