Friday, March 19, 2010

DRUNKEN MASTER (1978) - 4/5 stars

Release: 1978
Director: Yuen Woo-ping
Writer: Lung Hsiao, Ng See-Yuen, Yuen Woo-ping
Cast: Jackie Chan, Yuen Siu Tien, Hwang Jang Lee, Fung Ging Man, Hsu Hsia, Linda Lin, Dean Shek, Shun-Yee Yuen
Soundtrack: Chow Fu-Liang
Claim to fame: this is one of Jackie Chan's first successful films and one of his most enduring among fans, introduced 'drunken boxing' to a legion of kung fu movie fans
Rating: 4/5 stars

Good Lord, there is so much kung-fu fighting in this movie that I very nearly felt fatigued by the end of it! You gotta love these 70's kung fu flicks where a well-choreographed fight sequence breaks out just because some guy won't pay his dinner tab.


Jackie was really in the best shape of his life for "Drunken Master"

For fans of Jackie Chan's more recent works, in which he's known for his implementation of props and dangerous stunts, this film might be a bit of an adjustment. Most of "Drunken Master" is comprised of dudes sparring in the middle of sunny fields with the camera set up perfectly to capture every move.

So instead of "What prop can Jackie use next?", it becomes about the athleticism, the choreography, the almost dance-like performance of the two combatants.


Centered shot composition means we get to see every move

Needless to say, I spent the entire runtime of "Drunken Master" utterly impressed by what Jackie and his co-stars were accomplishing. Jackie is so damn fit here and he seems to never stop moving, finding some new way to contort his body or dodge his opponent's blows.


Holy $#%&!

Did I mention that "Drunken Master" is also friggin' hilarious? It was fun to see Jackie play a well-meaning but ultimately selfish SOB who causes trouble for others at every turn. Bonus points for the scene where Jackie calls a middle-aged lady a bitch, only to have her kick his ass with her elite fighting skills...only to have him find out later that she's the aunt he hasn't seen in 10 years!


You gotta love 70's kung fu movie hijinks

"Drunken Master" plays out like a classic Shaw Brothers movie, only injected with a healthy dose of comedy and even more impressive physicality on the part of the actors involved. This is a must-see movie for Jackie Chan fans and anybody who can appreciate 111 minutes of nearly nonstop martial arts action.

If you can get over the British-sounding dub (which isn't as bad as some I've heard), this is also one of director/choreographer Yuen Woo-ping's greatest works.


What kung fu movie would be complete

without some kind of painful and arcane training exercises?

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