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DRUNKEN MASTER II, AKA THE LEGEND OF DRUNKEN MASTER

     

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, July 10, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: For those who have seen only Jackie Chan’s American films — the ‘Rush Hour’ trilogy, ‘The Tuxedo,’ etc. — and wondered what all the fuss was about, you really owe it to yourself to watch ‘Drunken Master II,’ considered by Jackie-philes to be his masterpiece. No wires here folks; it’s all Jackie doing his own famous comic stuntwork, and ably assisted by the great Anita Mui. And now Golden Harvest Home Entertainment has rewarded fans with a newly remastered Blu-ray release and it’s well worth checking out. Here’s my review, published in the Deseret News on Dec. 23, 1994. (FYI, the reference to the earlier ‘Drunken Master’ reveals that I had not seen that film; it wasn’t available on video then, but two years later it played at an art/revival venue in Salt Lake City. At the end I suggest it would be rated PG-13, but to my surprise when it finally came to home video, it was slapped with an R, which was — and is — ridiculous.)

"Drunken Master II" is another feather in Jackie Chan's martial arts cap, with all the ingredients for which he is known — slapstick humor, precisely choreographed karate kicks and aerodynamic-defying wild stunts designed to take the breath away from audience members.

The setup and characters are also familiar. In fact, they are rather overworked in films like this.

     

Anita Mui, Jackie Chan, 'Drunken Master II' (1994)

Set in pre-World War I China, the story has Chan playing a young fighting champion who is still living with his parents (though Chan himself is actually 40 years old now).

He has to keep his kick-'em-up antics from his father (Ti Lung), a martial arts master who eschews violence, with comical aid from his mother (Anita Mui), who secretly plays mahjong for money and is always ready for a fight … even more so than her son.

Apparently, the film is a sequel to the original 16-year-old "Drunken Master" movie, also known as "Drunken Monkey in a Tiger's Eye," which was one of Chan's biggest hits.

The plot here has to do with evil British soldiers who are attempting to smuggle historical Chinese artifacts out of the country, and who also operate a local steel mill, exploiting the workers.

But Chan will save the day, of course, using a method of karate known as "drunken boxing," at which he shows more talent when intoxicated. (The result is sort of a karate version of Red Skelton's old "Guzzler's Gin" routine.)

     

As with many such films, the exposition sequences are a bit muddled (and boy, do those English subtitles zip by) … but once the action and comedy kick into gear, all is forgiven.

Chan is in great form here, falling into a pit of red-hot coals, dodging dozens of bad guys with spears, leaping in the air with incredible force (and taking equally incredible falls) … and, as is his custom, Chan shows us how painful an actor's life can be in the end-credit outtakes.

Great fun for action fans. And if you haven't tried one of these Hong Kong stunt-packed thrillers, this one may get you hooked.

"Drunken Master II" is not rated but is in PG-13 territory, with quite a bit of mayhem and a few scattered profanities.