This amusing Jackie Chan fighting fest was originally released as Jui kuen II (Drunken Master II) in 1994, and is now known as The Legend of Drunken Master. Chan plays Wong Fei-hong, a high-spirited upstart who uses his special style of “drunken boxing” like Luke Skywalker uses the “force”. This special talent sets up some amazing martial art sequences and comedy while providing a fairly dramatic storyline. The 102-minute story progresses fairly well and leads you to a final struggle against illegal smugglers.
The movie presents many characters to the audience, but doesn’t take the time to develop them all. Wong’s father counterbalances Wong’s mischievous step mom, Madam Wong, well played by Anita Mui who amuses the audience just as much as Chan does. Her manipulative antics would get her into trouble if she wasn’t so resourceful and quick witted. Bill Tung, who usually plays an authoritative character in many Jackie Chan movies, also makes a short appearance. Some of Wong’s acquaintances at the marketplace also find their way into the action.
The great action sequences represent the main appeal to the audience, particularly the large fight with Wong & an older ally near the middle of the movie. Wong encounters this great man in an earlier sequence on a train trip. This massive fight is a full out brawl where the audience may feel like cheering for the good guys to defeat the overwhelming odds. Both men use everything they can to ward off wave after wave of enemies. The ending fight comes close to this fight, but repeats too many of the fighting techniques from earlier fights. Noticeably bendable swords and lack of closure regarding an ending rescue may hurt the logistics of the action, but the talents shown on the screen help to outweigh these faults. In another amazing street fight, Chan contorts his body like rubber as he drinks his fill of wine and other assorted alcohol. The representation of alcohol as some sort of power juice is quickly quelled when Wong must answer to his father after the fight.
Directed by Lauka “Kung Fu” Leung (a.k.a. Chia-Liang Liu), Legend of Drunken Master has everything an action fan wants, even some unexpected drama that packs a fairly good punch. When you watch the ending credits and see the suffering Chan endures to produce this movie, you may appreciate his stuntwork and martial arts abilities even more. Recommended (*** out of four stars) for the amazing martial arts and slapstick comedy. Rated R for violence.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler