The Legend Of Drunken Master Movie Review

The Legend Of Drunken Master Jackie Chan Poster

The Legend Of Drunken Master (1994)
Director: 
Lau Kar Leung, Jackie Chan (uncredited)
Starring:
Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, Felix Wong and Lung Ti


He’ll do just about any death-defying stunt to please his fans. He hung from a ladder attached to an airborne helicopter, dropped off a clock tower multiple times and even crab walked over burning hot coals.  Not one to rely on digital effects, Jackie Chan performs stunts that are considered far too dangerous or physically impossible for any other lead actor. 

Having never watched Hollywood hit movies like Rush Hour and Shanghai Noon, my newly found appreciation for Jackie Chan comes from discovering the cult classic The Legend of Drunken Master, the follow up to 1978’s Drunken Master.

The Legend of Drunken Master is an entertaining mix of old-school kung fu fighting and good-natured humour. At times, it’s amusingly silly however it’s not without dramatic moments that carry some weight. The fantastic action scenes are the highlight of this movie about an irresponsible young man who learns some hard lessons on his way to becoming a folk hero. 

For a 90’s action movie, the story is expectedly not complex but there’s enough of a framework to hang the fight sequences on.  Set in early 20th century China, Jackie Chan plays Wong Fei-Hung, a young mischievous son of a respected medical practitioner. While waiting to board a train, Fei-Hung avoids paying tax on his father’s ginseng by switching it with another package from a suitcase belonging to a British Consulate official.

The old switcheroo first leads to hilarious situations after Fei-Hung tries to hide the fact that he lost his father’s ginseng but as this plot thread gradually escalates he gets caught up in a civil uprising. Similar to The Monuments Men, there is a message about the value of arts and culture that is conveyed in the second half of the film when Fei-Hung uncovers the consulate’s true motive.

The progression of the story blends well with the action sequences. Jackie Chan’s fight choreography is playful, acrobatic and left a smile on my face. There’s a rhythm and ingenuity to the fighting that’s more like a dance of kicks and punches than a bloody brawl. What makes The Legend Of Drunken Master stand out from many current action movies is it doesn’t overuse fast cutting, making it easy to follow and appreciate the fight scenes.

drunken-master-ii-double-fisted1

It’s hard to believe but Drunken boxing is a real and highly unorthodox style of fighting. Fei-Hung confounds his opponents by clowning around in a drunken stupor and striking from odd positions like while he’s arched over backwards with his feet parallel to each other. As many have noted, the way Fei-Hung guzzles down alcohol to get drunk is similar to how Popeye gets his powers from spinach.

Although the supporting cast are not as well developed, to a certain extent like Fei-Hung they also defy some of the traditional, rigid customs of how characters are typically depicted in Chinese period films. Anita Mui is terrific as the step-mom who can secretly hold her own in a fight and is unexpectedly comical which makes the interplay between her and Fei-Hung a treat to watch.

Drunken Master 2 Anita Mui

While I discussed many interesting things about this movie, I also have some less flattering observations that don’t necessarily take away from my enjoyment but are worth mentioning. Because this movie is made 16 years after the original, Jackie Chan is too old to be playing the same youthful character. Jackie looks like he could be roughly be around the same age as the actor who plays his father.

Jackie Chan does a good job with his own English dubs but the background voices are noticeably Westerners pretending to have an Asian accent. This won’t be an issue for those watching it in Cantonese with subtitles although I’d imagine there still would be some translations issues where the meaning of the original language is lost as is the case with many foreign movies.

Andy Lau in Drunken Master 2

One last caveat that I’ll bring up is that the charismatic screen presence of Hong Kong star Andy Lau is only in a brief cameo. After helping Fei-Hung in an intriguing early scene it set up Andy Lau’s character to be more significant than he was. Unfortunately this potential story line didn’t get developed and is never brought up again. 

With its creative and blistering fast kung fu action, The Legend Of Drunken Master is considered to be one of Jackie Chan’s best movies. Chan’s blend of comedy and martial arts mastery has an gratifying appeal that can cross the language and cultural barrier. For those that enjoy humour along side high-octane fights and are open-minded to English dubbed movies, The Legend Of Drunken Master is well worth checking out.

Are you a fan of Jackie Chan? What are your favorite Jackie Chan movies that you’d recommend?

Other Recommended Reviews

The Critical Cinephile – The Legend Of Drunken Master: Jackie Chan Will Crawl Across Hot Coals Just To Entertain You

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About Eddie@Jaccendo

Movies, TV shows, comics, and video game news & review.

Posted on April 23, 2014, in Movies, Review and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. ” Jackie looks like he could be roughly be around the same age as the actor who plays his father.”

    Actually, Jackie is only eight years younger than the actor who played his father. Which makes for an odd family dynamic indeed.

    Great review of one of my favorite Jackie joints!

  2. Can’t say I’ve caught too many Jackie Chan films, but this sounds like a fun time. The Drunken Boxing style sounds pretty interesting.

  3. Great review of a great film. My favourite Jackie Chan movies are Armour of God and the Police Story films. And I’m an Andy Lau fan!

    • After watching Legend of Drunken Master, I checked out Armour of God and Supercop both solid movies, I still need to see the other police story films. Andy Lau is great, wish he has more scenes in this movie. Thanks a lot Mikey!

  4. Ye I am a fan!! Not so much now but I used to be a huge fan.
    I watched all his movies…but when he came to Hollywood, I didn’t watch as many as I used to.

    • Cool, so you used to be a huge fan! His older movies, before coming to Hollywood, are the ones that I’m most interested in catching up on.

      • Yes! I watched all his older movies when I was still in elementary and junior high. Police Story is one of his best. Project A is also fun.

        • So far I’ve seen Police Story 3 (it’s called Supercop here), I want to see the other Police Story movies and Project A too. I heard there’s this stunt in Police Story where he slides down an electric pole and accidentally burned off some skin off his hand and broke bones. Ouch!

          • I think he has broken every bone in his body! It’s fortunate he is still alive by doing all those stunts. I forgot which movie, he was jumping from one window to another and landed with his back on the fence of the other window.

            Armour of God is a fun movie, it’s Jackie’s style of Indiana Jones.

            • I heard he has a hole in his skull too haha. I think it from was stunt gone wrong in Armour of God. After Drunken Master 2 I watched Armour of God 1 and 2; the second one was excellent. Yeah it reminded me of Indiana Jones style too.

  5. Nice review. I’m glad you’re a fan of Jackie Chan. This is definitely one of his best films. His filmography has a lot of depth to it. I think my personal favorite was Supercop.

    • Thanks Brik. This movie made me a fan, looking forward to delving deeper into his filmography. Supercop is another really good one, the out-takes on the train where he almost falls off is pretty insane.

  6. I never saw this one but Jackie Chan is a hoot in Rush Hour, he’s really the only thing worth watching in that movie.

    Btw, it’s not related to this one but since you watch a lot of TV, are you watching Black Sails? I’m looking for bloggers who review that show 😉

    • I’ll have to see Rush Hour for Jackie Chan sometime.

      I’ve heard good things about Black Sails, have you been watching it? I might catch up on DVD when it’s out. 🙂

      • I’ve been watching Black Sails online as I don’t have cable, so not the entire episodes, just the clips. It looks really good, and obviously Toby’s excellent as Captain Flint!

  7. I miss Jackie Chan! He has starred in quite a few awful family comedies. However, when his films are good…they are very good! And this one is a perfect example!

    • Jackie Chan’s best films are his oldies and there’s quite a few of them I plan on catching up on. Story-wise it’s not related to this movie, but the original Drunken Master is another perfect example of a very good film.

  8. Cool review yo, I’ve never seen this sequel but I’ve heard the action scenes are some of Jackie’s best. I’ve been meaning to get around to it for ages but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. For me Jackie Chan is one of the most unappreciated men in the realm of marial arts films, sure he’s known for his amazing stunt work, but some still don’t know of his awesomeness beyond his western films and that sucks. Most of his older films is where its at. Films like Police Story, Project A, Armour of God and Who Am I feature some of his best work ever and those are just a few I’d recommend. I really like personally Police Story and Who Am I.

    • Thanks a lot! The sequel is a lot fun, it’s worth checking out. It can be watched as it’s own stand alone story as it’s very loosely related to the original 1978 movie. Hopefully fans of Jackie Chan’s western movies we’ll take a chance on his earlier films. I’ll have to check out Who Am I and Police Story sometime, good recommendations.

  9. This movie and the first one sound like a lot of fun! I’ve sorely missed these kinds of movies in my movie watching diet, must remedy that. Thanks for the heads up!

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