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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 18.42%
Just Average: 5.26%
Pretty Crappy: 1.75%
Sucks: 2.63%

7 reviews, 72 user ratings

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Legend of Drunken Master, The
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by Robert Flaxman

"Everything you expect from Jackie Chan."
4 stars

One cannot go into a martial arts movie – especially not one that’s part comedy, like much of Jackie Chan’s career – and really expect much of a plot. The film is about the artistry of the fight scenes, and not much else. Even by those rather low standards, though, The Legend of Drunken Master leaves something to be desired. The simple plot is one thing, but at least two subplots really don’t go anywhere. Still, we’re here for the fights, and at least they deliver.

Chan plays Wong Fei-Hong, a specialist in the art of drunken boxing who has been forbidden by his father to practice it or get into public fights. When Fei-Hong hides his ginseng in the suitcase of the British ambassador to avoid paying duties on it, he ends up with a stolen jade seal that sets a number of bad guys after him. Turns out some unscrupulous Chinese businessmen are helping the British smuggle numerous artifacts out of China.

That’s most of the plot right there. Fei-Hong’s stepmother, played by Anita Mui, provides some comic relief, but also creates a strange subplot where she claims to be pregnant to keep her husband from punishing her for aiding Fei-Hong in various deceptions, then later appears to actually be pregnant. The American release evidently omits a final gag that Leonard Maltin described as “tasteless”, so who knows if that storyline found a conclusion or not in the original release, but here it’s just kind of strange. Also odd is an effectively pointless cameo by Andy Lau as a counterintelligence officer who saves Fei-Hong from having his parcels checked while carrying the seal, then never turns up again.

Aside from that, I guess the plot’s okay. At least it has ideological strengths – the idea that China is having its own history stolen from under the people’s noses and shipped to museums on the other side of the world is certainly one worth getting up in arms about. Fei-Hong and his rival Tsang even come together in the film’s second half to fight for the cause.

The keys to the film are really the fight scenes, of course. On this count the film is a minor disappointment solely because it doesn’t actually feature all that much drunken boxing – Chan and the director apparently feuded over how much of the more flamboyant, drunken style was to be included, which Chan wanted, versus the more realistic and sober adaptation of the moves, which the director wanted. Chan seems to have won the day – the film’s concluding fight in a steel mill features Chan drinking some sort of alcohol-related fuel before defeating the final boss… er, the head bad guy.

Despite this, though, the film only produces two fight scenes with the actual drunken style. The first fight scene in the film features Chan fighting an old man who has a spear; the action moves amazingly fast (it actually looks a little sped up) but it’s pretty conventional. A second fight, between Fei-Hong and Tsang, is supposed to be Tsang’s style against Fei-Hong’s drunken boxing, but if the latter shows up, it’s strictly the more realistic variety. The prolonged first fight against the bad guys is the first time we actually see Chan break out the seriously drunk style.

Of course, this is kind of commendable – just before tossing Fei-Hong a bottle, his stepmother explains to a friend that “it gives him power”, which is sort of a screwy message. But Fei-Hong only gets drunk in his two major fights against the bad guys, so there is that feeling that even though this isn’t so great, he did it for a good cause. Still, the two drunken boxing sequences are masterpieces of near-balletic martial artistry – Chan shows such control of his body that you’d think he had wires on, but most likely he didn’t. They’re so fun to watch it’s a bit disappointing that there are only two – the other scenes are hardly dull, but they don’t seem to have quite the same vitality (although watching Chan and the old man combine to take on a mob of ax-wielding gang members is pretty enjoyable too).

Jackie Chan movies have a sort of Catch-22 about them. Chan goes so all out for his fight scenes that he really can’t do more than a handful of major ones during the picture, but the scenes are so fun to watch compared to the rest of the film that you wish there were more. Predictably short on plot but fun overall, The Legend of Drunken Master is pretty much what you’d expect out of Jackie Chan – awesome martial arts and an outtake reel that reminds you how much easier it is to watch the film than to make it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1436&reviewer=385
originally posted: 02/01/05 14:44:09
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User Comments

8/29/08 Shaun Wallner Intense Action!!! 5 stars
3/27/06 Brian Meyer Great! But the First Drunken Master is BEST ACTION MOVIE EVER!!!! 5 stars
12/09/05 noops another gr8 movie frm chan 5 stars
10/11/05 Tom Burns great jackie chan action and comedy. 5 stars
7/27/05 Quigley The fights were pure movie magic. Chan rules as always; story was incredibly lame 5 stars
4/24/05 DM The action is so exciting you completely forget about anything else. 5 stars
3/14/05 Ronin Drunken boxing is the most spectacular style IMO. Awesome 4 stars
2/04/05 bongeezer Jackie is great, Story is not. 3 stars
2/01/05 Rodney Stephens DESCENT MOVIE BUT NOT PERFECT 3 stars
2/01/05 Carolyn Rathburn Hillariously funny, only Jackie Chan could do these stunts. Enjoyed it. 5 stars
1/23/05 keithers.. This is Chans way of Saying "I'm still the king of action!" 5 stars
7/23/04 Sandy Turynowicz Funny 4 stars
7/16/04 Raymond Lee Great fights and action 5 stars
4/04/04 Stephen Crancher Brilliant film 5 stars
11/20/03 rony this movie was da bomb!!!! Jackie Chan kicks ass!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!^_^ 5 stars
7/04/03 Zargo wierd... how everyone loves this but me... and I've seen 34 of chans so I'm hardly ignorant 3 stars
6/05/03 Maurice "The Predator" This movie is fucking sweet!! Jackie rulez like god 5 stars
2/09/03 cinkcool great 5 stars
1/05/03 Thomas Saylor this movie is the best movie I have ever seen 5 stars
1/20/02 keith langman This is Jackie chans big!!!!1 movie it's legendary 5 stars
12/27/01 Waylon Roundtree Saw long ago, and I never get tired of watching it! 5 stars
11/29/01 Rutt13 THE reason why Jacki Chan is my hero...Amazing, I hope to watch with my kids one day! 5 stars
10/18/01 Daniel Paz Awesome Kick Ass!!! 5 stars
9/25/01 joe awesome 5 stars
7/29/01 Jennifer Gaissert I am proud to be of the same species as Jackie Chan 5 stars
7/23/01 Thor-Leo Nothing to add, just doing my part to boost the rating of a brilliant film. 5 stars
6/21/01 Tommy Wyvern Wonderful, that's the least you can say about this magnificent action movie!! 5 stars
5/02/01 Gracy Lionheart LOVED IT...Demonstrates perfectly the prestige class of drunken master in D&D 5 stars
4/24/01 Ben Gonzales Truly Awesome! The fights are the best Jackie Chan has done. Definitely Top 10 material. 5 stars
4/04/01 Breadpie This film belongs in my all-time Top 10. That's saying a lot. 5 stars
3/20/01 fifu wow!!! i give it a 5 out of 6 one of my favorite movies the best forien film i've ever seen 5 stars
3/05/01 Aytim Contains some of the best action scenes ever filmed 5 stars
1/12/01 Jake The best time at had at the movies in 2000 5 stars
1/04/01 Msitrab AMAZING!! The final fight in this movie will make your jaw drop 5 stars
12/28/00 Bruce The most amazing hand to hand fights I have seen 5 stars
12/18/00 John Palombo Dubbing was TERRIBLE, but these things happen. Makes you want to learn Drunken Boxing. 4 stars
11/23/00 T.F.M. The Best Jackie Chan Movie 5 stars
11/16/00 DJ Cones The Best Kung-Fu Movie Of All Time! 5 stars
11/15/00 Dane Jackson Great fun! 5 stars
11/15/00 Heather One of the best action movies you'll see this year 5 stars
11/04/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble Saw this flick with some mates, they hated it. I was too drunk to care! 3 stars
10/30/00 thebigguy WEEEEEE! 5 stars
10/30/00 fishie Movements so fast it will make your head spin. An absolute must-see. Loved it! 5 stars
10/29/00 dennis bergkamp No action film beats it 5 stars
10/28/00 danh excellent - one of the alltime best 5 stars
10/25/00 Victoria OMFG NOT ANOTHER JACKIN CHAN MOVIE! 1 stars
10/25/00 Bob One of the best J. Chan movies I've ever seen. Fantastic action. 5 stars
10/24/00 chuckmfh Just like any other Kung-Foo movie with English dubbed in 2 stars
10/24/00 ljohnston@yrsd-dcd.org.uk fuckin' swats 2 stars
10/24/00 Clarance Ban this bitch from making movies! 1 stars
10/23/00 Doughy Holy fucking shit! Extraordinary in every way. Pretty goddamn funny too 5 stars
10/22/00 Greyjack Un-fricking-believable. Probably Jackie's best movie. Excellent slapstick farce, too! 5 stars
10/22/00 Klute If action is what you're after, it gets no better than this. But the humour makes it a 5'er 5 stars
10/22/00 PJ The Greatest Kung Fu movie ever, period!!!!!!!!!!!!!! * * * * * stars 5 stars
10/18/00 angel the bomb ass kick ass jackie chan movie 5 stars
10/18/00 James Eldred This movie is the best Kung Fu flick of all time...period 5 stars
8/02/00 Bryan Wyatt Chan seems to be in the prime of his career and totaly kicks arse while totally drunk. 5 stars
6/28/00 Aiken Drum This and The Young Master are my two favourite Jackie Films, and I am a BIG fan 5 stars
5/21/00 Cinesuerte Awesome 5 stars
3/24/00 mrenwick All Jackie, all the time!! Great scene-stealing by (Chan's ex-girlfriend) Anita Mui too... 5 stars
3/08/00 Viper Greatest Jackie Chan film of the 90s 5 stars
12/19/99 Eric S. A bit overrated Jackie Chan film. The stunts are there, but the setting is terrible. 3 stars
11/10/99 Foxdvd One of the Best Jackie Movies. The action is equal to even Jet Li's best 5 stars
10/26/99 Ford Fuck Rush Hour, this is the ALL TIME Jackie chan film. Awe inspiring drunken boxing style. 5 stars
10/16/99 Kris Richardson Amazing action from the absolute King!!! 5 stars
9/02/99 Elman makes "matrix kung fu scenes"look like a Billie Blanks Tai-Bo workout 5 stars
7/01/99 Cris Morales Amazing, incredible, and satisfying 5 stars
6/30/99 Mike Lowrey INCREDIBLE! CHAN IS THE MAN! 5 stars
6/28/99 Steve Bashakus Not for pussy amateurs or poor readers (ie. subtitles) - amazing, simply amazing. 5 stars
4/10/99 sebo wrong wrong wrong wrong 1 stars
4/03/99 Albert Someone was drunk when they ranked this. 3 stars
1/18/99 Marcello Pietrantonio This is Jackie Chan's best ever movie. Great stunts, jokes, humor and Kung Fu action. 5 stars
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  20-Oct-2000 (R)


  02-Jul-1994 (M)

Directed by
  Lau Ka Leung

Written by
  Edward Tang
  Tong Man Ming
  Yuen Chieh Chi

  Jackie Chan
  Ti Lung
  Anita Mui
  Lau Ka Leung
  Andy Lau
  Wing-Fong Ho

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