The Legend of Drunken Master (A J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
September 9, 2009 by Dennis Amith
“For those who enjoyed the original Dimension DVD release of ‘The Legend of Drunken Master’ will enjoy the better picture and audio quality on Blu-ray. And for them, this is the definitive US-release version to own. Unfortunately, the release still includes the edited version (new sound effects and a major final scene right at the end cut out) from the 2000 DVD release and still no Cantonese or Mandarin audio track for those who prefer to watch the movie without the English voice dub.”
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TITLE: The Legend of Drunken Master (aka Drunken Master II or Jui Kuen II)
DURATION: 102 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD (48 kHz/24-bit), French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 2.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
COMPANY: Dimension Home Video/Golden Harvest/Buena Vista Home Entertainment
RATED: R (For Violent Content)
Release Date: September 15, 2009
Directed by Chia-Liang Liu
Written by Edward Tang, Man-Ming Tong, Gai Chi Yuen
Executive Producer: Leonard Ho
Producer: Edward Tang, Eric Tsang
Associate Producer: Barbie Tung
Music by Michael Wandmacher (2000) and Wai Lap Wu
Cinematography by Tony Cheung, Yiu-Tsou Cheung, Jingle Ma, Man-wan Wong
Edited by Peter Cheung
Production Design by Chong-Sing Ho and Eddie Ma
Jackie Chan as Wong Fei-hung
Lunt Ti – Wong Kei-ying (Wong’s Father)
Anita Mui – Mrs. Wong (Wong’s Step-Mother)
Felix Wong as Tsang
Chia-Liang Liu as General Fu Wen-Chi
Ken Lo as John
Kar Lok Chin as Fo Sang
Ho-Sung Pak as Henry
Chi-Kwong Cheung as Tso
Yee San Hon as Hing
Andy Lau as the Counter Intelligence Officer
Wing-Fong Ho as fun
Chia Yung Liu as Marlon
Siu-Ming Lau as Chiu
The Legend of Drunken Master is a thrilling action adventure about a man who uses a uniquely outlandish style of martial arts – Drunken Boxing – to retrieve stolen Chinese artifacts from the British government. It was directed by Chia-Liang Liu, who won the Hong Kong film award for Best Action Choreography for his work on the film, and costars Hong Kong cinema greats Ti Lung (A Better Tomorrow) as Jackie’s father and Anita Mui (Rumble in the Bronx) as his fun-loving mother. Critics and fans agree, The Legend of Drunken Master is one of martial arts legend Jackie Chan’s greatest films – now even greater on Blu-ray!
In 1978, Jackie Chan’s “Drunken Master” (or Jui Kuen) was an exciting film that is considered a classic and help popularize the drunken boxing style of martial arts which has been copied on various video games and other films. Over 16 years later, Chan returned for “Drunken Master II” (Jui Kuen II) which was not a direct sequel but followed the character with the same name, Wong Fei Hung.
For those not familiar with the name Wong Fei-hung (or Hong), the real man lived from 1847 through 1924 and was a master of the no-shadow kick, drunken boxing, the lion dance and Hung fist. The character has been explored in a number of films which include the Jet Li “Once Upon a Time in China” films and for Jackie Chan in the “Drunken Master” films
The film revolves around a man named Wong Fei Hung who travels with his father (a doctor) and a student named Tsao via train after obtaining more medicine to bring back home. But because they must pay duty fees for the items they bring with them, Wong would rather not pay for them (despite his father telling him to) and hides his items through one of the non-Chinese travelers luggage, hoping to retrieve it later on the train (the non-Chinese and the rich Chinese are separated in a luxury style train cabin away from the Chinese travelers who happen to be packed in like sardines.
But as Wong Fei Hung goes to retrieve the item, he discovers another man trying to take the item out of the luggage. We then see that the item the man takes, looks exactly like the item that Wong had. A fight ensues and the older man who is a Chinese loyalist named General Fu (Liu Chia-liang) manages to easily dodge and defend all of Wong’s attacks and even calls Wong a traitor (which he has no idea why he is being called that).
Eventually, after the chaos ensues, Wong is able to retrieve the item but it appears that the old man accidentally took Wong’s item (a ginseng root) and Wong took the item that the old man was trying to get, which appears to be an old Chinese ancient artifact and now the foreign traveler who own the luggage along with Chinese military are searching the whole train for it. Fortunately, a Counter Intelligence Officer (played by Andy Lau) manages to save Wong from being caught.
We learn that the artifact is part of Chinese traditional artifacts being taken by the British Consul and Chinese gangsters out of the country and now they are after Wong and want the artifact back.
Meanwhile, back at home, we get to see how Wong’s stepmother (played by Anita Mui) tends to bail her stepsons from trouble but when those looking for the artifact steal from his mother’s friend and even hit his mother in the face, Wong must used the forbidden fight of Drunken Boxing and also drinking alcohol which helps boost his attacks. But when he break his promise to his father, he learns a lesson by being beaten by his father and thrown out to the street when intoxicated, the Chinese gangsters beat him up to send a message that the want the artifact.
Will Wong be able to protect his family, his friends and even his land from the enemies without breaking his father’s ultimatum of never to fight or get drunk again?
VIDEO & AUDIO:
“The Legend of the Drunken Master” is one of those releases that one will either love or really hate. First, let’s discuss the picture quality. Picture quality is probably the best that this film has ever been seen. The High Definition 1080p (2:35:1) definitely brings out the film with much clarity but by no means is it perfect. You will see occasional dirt and scratches and there are some scenes where either there was change in camera lens but sometimes the film is not consistent at times. With that being said, fans of the film will definitely enjoy learning of how good the picture quality is and because the first version of this film that I owned was a VHS and then an uncut HK VCD, it’s great to see the film with so much detail. But for those expecting the best from Blu-ray, you may not exactly be pleased but it is an upgrade from the original DVD release.
As for the audio quality, this is where things begin to look murky and it all depends on the viewer. Audio is provided in English 5.1 DTS-HD (48kHZ/24-bit) and French 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital. For the most part, lossless audio definitely shows major improvement during the action sequences and utilizes the surround channels. Meanwhile, the English voice dubbing can be understood but Jackie Chan’s English voice over is sometimes hard to understand. But the biggest surprise is that there is no Cantonese/Mandarin audio track. So, for those who prefer to watch Asian films in their natural language will be upset to know that it was not included.
Second, it’s important to let people know that this is the edited version of the film done back in 2000. The music was changed, the special effects were changed and the original ending had a significant scene cut out.
With that being said, for those who don’t mind the English dub, were familiar with the 2000 DVD release and don’t mind that the film was edited for the US, will definitely find the picture and audio quality to be much, much better than the original DVD release. The picture quality is shows quite a bit of detail and despite the film being made in 1994, there is no sign of excessive DNR (digital noise reduction), the film looks way better than it ever has. The audio is also much better than the previous DVD and there is a good use of the surround channels. But if you want the original Chinese audio, unfortunately, you will not find it on this release.
Subtitles are presented in English SDH, French and Spanish.
“The Legend of Drunken Master” comes with the following special feature:
- Behind the Master: An Interview with Jackie Chan – (6:35) Jackie Chan talks about how he always wanted the film to come out in the US and talks about the stunt choreography of the film.
“The Legend of Drunken Master” is absolutely vintage Jackie Chan at his very best. Jackie Chan is literally amazing to watch as the Smooth, fluid choreography is just outstanding and absolutely wonderful to watch in High Definition. But those battle sequences are just amazing to watch and the fight scenes, especially earlier in the film with Chinese loyalist General Fu (Liu Chia-liang) was just incredible.
Also, impressive was to see the latest Anita Mui (who was the equivalent to music artist Madonna in Hong Kong) and both she and Jackie Chan had awesome chemistry onscreen, even in this film despite Chan being much older than Anita, but everything seems to work quite well. As for Andy Lau’s appearance, it was quite a short role. And for Shaw Brothers fans, you can catch the veteran Ti Lung playing Wong Kei-ying.
Again, I want to make it clear that this film has its best looking transfer to date on Blu-ray. Picture quality is very good but not great. But what it all comes down to is the viewer and what they want are expecting from this film.
For those wanting the 2000 English dubbed dialogue, you’re going to get an awesome lossless track on Blu-ray as the film’s lossless audio is utilizing the front, center and surround channels quite well during the action scenes.
But for those who have been waiting for the uncut release, let alone a release that would include the Cantonese or Mandarin audio, you’re not going to get it on this Blu-ray release. And this is a major blow for those who have been hoping that with a Blu-ray release, they would be getting the version they have waited so long for. Even watching the final scene, a viewer is left wondering why it ends quite suddenly with no appearance from Jackie Chan but the truth is that Dimension cut that scene out (the original ending with Jackie Chan is a bit shocking but I’m not going to spoil it for you) because it was deemed in appropriate.
So, needless to say…it’s going to be a love or hate release among fans. As a fan of the film, one can either wait and hope that an import uncut release of the film makes it to Blu-ray. Or perhaps maybe purchasing this latest release with the better picture quality, better lossless audio but for the most part only in English, French and Spanish (no Chinese audio dialogue) along with the revisions made back in 2000.
Personally, I want an uncut version with its original Chinese language (ala lossless audio) included and unfortunately, I didn’t get it with this release. Otherwise, for those who don’t mind the revisions or the English dub, this Blu-ray release of “The Legend of the Drunken Master” is the definitive version to own for now.
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