Plot: What’s it about?
It seems as though some British forces want some Chinese artifacts, but instead of working out a deal with the Chinese government, the British have a more underhanded plan in mind. That plan involves sending in some British numbers, who will then take the desired artifacts and smuggle them back home, seems like a simple enough plan. But when some local loyalists learn of this crooked plan, they decide to teach the British a lesson, with their hands and feet. At the same time, Wong Fei Hung (Jackie Chan) and his father are traveling home from the store, only to find themselves right in the middle of the skirmish. The real battles have not yet begun of course, but now Wong Fei Hung has been pulled into the conflict, which means someone is in serious trouble. You see, Hung is a master of the drunken boxing style of combat, which means he is very quick and agile, but seems to be drunken and off balance. Can Wong Fei Hung and his fellow loyalists prevent the British from stealing their priceless treasures, or is this a battle they simply cannot win?
I was very pleased to learn that Dimension was releasing The Legend of Drunken Master to DVD, as it stands as one of the great martial arts films of all time. I’ve always been a fan of martial arts action pictures, but this one blew me away and after you’ve seen so many of these movies, that can be difficult indeed for a film to do. After a brief return to theaters, The Legend of Drunken Master (also known as Drunken Master II) has arrived on our beloved format and while some problems surface, this is still a terrific presentation. But more on the disc later in the review, let’s talk about what makes this movie so fantastic. As fans of Jackie Chan know, he is known for his creative use of locations and props, which he involves in the action sequences, to keep the fights fresh and entertaining. Well, Chan takes that to a new level in this film, as The Legend of Drunken Master supplies some of the most complex, dazzling scenes ever, which is a real compliment indeed. The final sequence is stunning to say the least, but the entire movie is loaded with great scenes, so make sure not to skip around on this one. This disc does have a very brief sequence cut from the end, but in this case, I think that serves the film well, as few cared for that very lame piece that was trimmed. If you’re a fan of martial arts or action movies, then this is nothing less than a must own title, so don’t hesitate to add this to your collection.
Of all the actors in the business, Jackie Chan is my personal favorite, so of course I am pleased to own another of his films on our beloved format. I happen to like most of his efforts, but this one is above and beyond most of his films, as he literally explodes across the screen. Chan always supplies action thrills, but here he takes the stunts and fights to new levels, even fans of his will be amazed with some of the scenes found in The Legend of Drunken Master. It is a pleasure to see Chan in such excellent form here, he seems to be in the zone at all times, which means a plethora of wall to wall action. Although this disc uses an English dubbed track, Chan does supply his own voice and that adds a lot to his performance also. If you’re a fan of Chan or martial arts cinema, this is one performance you simply cannot miss. Other films with Chan include Rush Hour, Mr. Nice Guy, Rumble In The Bronx, Project A, Shanghai Noon, and Operation Condor. The cast here also includes Anita Mui (The Enforcer, The Heroic Trio), Ken Lo (A Man Called Hero, Gorgeous), Ti Lung (A Better Tomorrow II, A Killer’s Blues), and Andy Lau (Running Out of Time, Full Throttle).
Video: How does it look?
The Legend of Drunken Master is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Dimension has supplied a very clean, impressive transfer for this flick, so fans should be very pleased here. The source print looks very clean, with minimal debris to report, while the usual dusty appearance is absent, very cool indeed. The colors have a natural shine to them, never too rich, while flesh tones seem normal and in fine form also. The contrast is also well balanced and shows no errors, as detail is strong and black levels are in order as well. This is by far the best this film has looked on home video, very impressive work indeed.
Audio: How does it sound?
As usual, Dimension (via Buena Vista) offers a nice Dolby Digital 5.1 mix, but no signs of an original language option. The included English dubbed track is one of the best I’ve heard, with Chan providing his own vocals, but I would still love to have the choice of using the original language on all films. As much as I despise dubbed tracks, I have to admit this one is not too bad at all, but still pales when compared to the intended language of course. Aside from the dubbed issue however, this is a blockbuster track and I was very impressed. The surrounds see plenty of action to spice up the audio presence, but never in a forced fashion, so it all sounds natural here. The new soundtrack is a little out of place at times, but the music is in fine form here, so no real complaints. The dialogue is also sharp and well presented, which leaves me to score this one on the higher end, with a slight nick for the lack of an original language track. This disc also contains a French language track, as well as English subtitles.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The sole extra here is an interview with Jackie Chan, which runs about six and a half minutes in length. This piece contains of course, interview material with Chan, but also a wealth of clips from various films. I am pleased this was tacked on, but I would have loved some additional supplements, since this is considered to be a milestone picture in martial arts cinema.