Legend of the Drunken Master (1994) / Action-Comedy
aka Drunken Master 2
aka Jui Kuen II
MPAA Rated: R for violence
Running Time: 102 min.
Cast: Jackie Chan, Ti Lung, Anita Mui, Felix Wong, Lau Kar-Leung, Andy Lau (cameo)
Director: Liu Chia-Liang
Screenplay: Edward Tang, Tong Man-Ming, Yun Kai-Chi
Legend of Drunken Master (aka Drunken Master II) is a semi-sequel to Drunken Master, Jackie Chan’s chop-socky martial arts classic of 1978. Some fans actually think this sequel to be superior to the first film, and to take things further, claim that it is the best martial arts movie ever made, but I must respectfully disagree. Drunken Master may not be a masterpiece, but it is actually funny, and maintains an interest level in between the fight scenes. On the other hand, Legend of Drunken Master has only the fight scenes to boast, and more specifically, one fight scene during the final twenty minutes of the film that might actually be deemed worthy of the price of admission. Were it not for that scene, this might very well rank as one of Chan’s middling efforts, despite what the film's fans would tell you.
Jackie Chan (City Hunter, Crime Story) resumes the role of folk hero Wong Fei-Hung, returning home after purchasing what he thinks is some ginseng for his herb-selling father (Ti Lung, True Colours). However, unbeknownst to Wong, the packages have been inadvertently switched, leaving him with an ancient imperial seal, which he mistakenly thinks to be worthless, but which is actually highly sought after by a group of deadly bandits, under the authority of the British ambassador to the area. Despite the certain admonishment from his parents, Wong finds that he must frequently employ his use of the “drunken boxer” style of martial arts, which really kicks in the more drunk he becomes, although it makes him very reckless, and consequently, gets him in hot water more often than not.
Legend of the Drunken Master is marred by a slow and goofy first half, showcasing many scenes played for laughs, with very few of them earning the feeblest of chuckles. For some viewers out there expecting some high-octane fighting, fear not, as things get kicked into overdrive in the second half of the film, ending with a resounding bang in a final showdown between Chan and his real-life bodyguard through all sorts of hazardous obstacles and pitfalls. It is truly one of the most exciting fight scenes put to celluloid.
However, for all of the praise I might lavish on the film’s final confrontation, I just can’t ignore the hackneyed, lackluster build-up to it, featuring substandard acting, ham-handed direction, and many scenes that languish in lackadaisical, but misguided, whimsy. While there are contingents of fans out there that maintain Drunken Master II as a martial arts masterpiece, you have my apologies for my tepid response to your all-time favorite film. Perhaps for those that only know Jackie’s American films, this might seem like a revolutionary film, but to seasoned veterans of the genre, you’ll recognize that Jackie has covered this ground before, only better, including the phenomenal work he’d done in the first Drunken Master,
©2006 Vince Leo