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The Legend of Drunken Master
BLU-RAY disk
09.21.2009 By: J.A. Hamilton
The Legend of Drunken Master order
Director:
Lau Ka Leung

Actors:
Jackie Chan
Anita Mui
Ti Lung

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
A botched plan to get out of paying duty on some ginseng root, turns into a hilarious series of battles between a young “drunken boxing” martial artist and a series of thugs who’s boss is trying to smuggle stolen Chinese relics out of the country.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Having grown up watching old ninja movies like ENTER THE NINJA and NINE DEATHS OF THE NINJA (and pretty much anything that had Sho Kosugi in it), I have a soft spot for all forms of martial arts movies, even crapily dubbed foreign ones. I’ve been so spoiled by all the more recent titles like CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON, HOUSE OF DAGGERS and even the next film on my review list, HERO, that I nearly forgot about Jackie Chan’s long list of oldies, one of which being this one, THE LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER. Even the title seems a bit off in its translation, which is fitting as it captures the essence of this film almost perfectly. This flick is a lot of fun, just don’t expect it to make much sense as the dialogue lost a good portion of its coherency in the translation.

The dialogue didn’t bother me, being a big fan of Japanese anime, I’m rather used to “loose” translations. If anything, these off the wall prose were quite funny. I laughed my ass off during a death scene (that was supposed to be serious), when Chan and his buddy (all distraught and angry) seem like they’re about to say something meaningful, instead we get this: “What are you thinking?” dude says to Chan. “NOTHING!” he replies. Too much. Chan’s so genuinely adorable that you can’t help but love him anyway, despite some of the shameless lunacy you see taking place from one scene to the next. I’ve always been a fan of Chan’s happy go lucky persona, the man’s as awkwardly funny as he is deadly.

And deadly certainly IS the description of choice, as (like always) Chan does all his own stunts, which make me dizzy with awe at the sheer magnitude of finesse involved. The man’s impressive, a truly gifted martial artist with no shortage of talent. What makes Jackie so unique in my eyes is his insane ability to incorporate any and all of his surroundings into such a fluent fighting style, making the world his own personal weapon. I love that. He takes the theme of this film (drunken boxing) and runs with it, getting loaded on various forms of booze, and even some kind of highly flammable (and no doubt poison) type of fuel. The story, pace and mood are all over the place, but again, when I was shaking my head in confusion there was always a smile on my face.

THE LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER is definitely not for everyone. Like I said when I reviewed THE INGLORIOUS BASTARDS, if you liked this sort of film growing up and have a distinct taste for what this genre has to offer, you’ll enjoy Chan and all his wackiness. But lets be real, a sincere appreciation for this film can only come about if you’re a diehard fan of martial arts. The heroes, villains, situations, story and script are ALL written around the gratuitous, random and sometimes unexplained fighting scenes that make up the better part of the film’s entirety. That said, this isn’t RUSH HOUR or SHANGHAI NOON. Hell, it’s not even THE TUXEDO. This is more like a cheaper, rundown version of RUMBLE IN THE BRONX. Only this time he’s not offering anyone tea.
THE EXTRAS
Behind The Master: An Interview With Jackie Chan: A quick six minute interview with Chan where he explains that his enthusiasm for getting this film released here was greatly influenced by how big of a hit it was in Asia (and probably the money). I love the fact that Chan doesn’t let the language barrier stop him from getting his point across.

Sneak Peeks: We get two film trailers (ADVENTURELAND and THE PROPOSAL), a LOST S5 preview, a Miramax films commercial and a Blu-ray commercial.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
I remember hesitating when I first rented SHANGHAI NOON, thinking it odd to see Jackie Chan in a comedy, but man was I wrong. Chan’s nice guy personality makes him a hit (and kick) in all his films, old and new. Sure, this film’s literally “lost in translation” but if you like his work, you’ll enjoy it. There’s not much in the way of extras though, so you may wanna skip the Blu-ray treatment.

Extra Tidbit: I always enjoy watching Jackie’s outtakes (there’s a few that roll during the credits here), but the best had to be when he got hit by a helicopter and knocked unconscious for a couple hours while filming SUPERCOP.
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