Generally regarded as one of Jackie Chan's best efforts (and there's got to be at least 75 films by this point), "Legend Of Drunken Master" is a highly entertaining mix of Chan's usual high comedy and thrilling action. As with any Chan movie, the plot generally exists to tie the film's many action sequences together. In this case, Chan plays Wong Fei-Hung, a master of the "drunken boxing" style, who finds out about a plot to steal Chinese artifacts.
The "drunken" style, which involves improved fighting skills after downing some strong alcohol, makes for some hilarious comedy from Chan, who stumbles amusingly - but still manages to knock down the bad guy. There's some sequences that don't work with his father, Wong (Lung Ti), and step-mother (Anita Mui), but Mui at least manages to almost take some scenes on her own with fine comedy skills of her own.
Although Chan has done excellent work in his recent American efforts like "Shanghai Noon" and "Rush Hour", he's at his best here, making the comedy work as best he can and showing off some incredible fighting throughout the picture as he takes on quite a few villians - especially amazing considering there's no help in terms of effects or anything like that - with Chan's films - it's Jackie getting hit (and often getting hurt, as we see in his usual outtakes at the end of the picture)
Overall, Chan's film doesn't offer much in the way of story - but it delivers wonderfully in all of the ways we would expect from one of the actor's films. "Legend Of Drunken Master" definitely provides some of the most stunning martial-arts fight sequences that I've seen in ages, especially the final fight scene.
VIDEO: Although certainly never unwatchable, "Legend Of Drunken Master" definitely varies quite a bit in terms of the image quality during the movie. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio and it is anamorphic. Sharpness and detail are usually pretty good - and occasionally very pleasing - but there are also times when some softness creeps into the image.
What surpised me was that I noticed quite a bit of wear on the print used. Although this wasn't a constant annoyance, slight marks, scratches and other flaws often make their presence known. Some minor pixelation and shimmering is visible occasionally throughout, but I didn't find this as noticable as the print wear.
Colors generally seem bright, well-defined natural, with no instances of problems. Yes, there are some instances of wear that take away from the viewing experience, but overall, "Legend Of Drunken Master" still certainly looked at least passable.
SOUND: "Legend Of Drunken Master" is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1. What will likely dissapoint many is the fact that Miramax/Dimension has not included the original language soundtrack, although this should not suprise many, as the studio has unfortunately not done this for any of the similar martial arts titles that they have re-relased in the past couple of years.
In terms of the soundtrack included, the presentation is actually quite entertaining, offering not only a good deal of punch, but an enjoyable amount of envelopment as well. Although not consistently used, surrounds do nicely offer both the score and, during the action scenes, additional sound effects. The slight, enjoyable new score by Michael Wandmacher(who also provided new scores for re-issues of "Twin Dragons" and "Supercop 2") sounds clear and crisp, as well. Although I don't quite understand why the films need new scores, the composer's work sounded fine here. Overall, this is a fine soundtrack that presents the material reasonably well.
MENUS:: Menus are non-animated, with very basic images serving as backgrounds. For example, the main menu simply re-uses the front cover.
Behind The Master: an interview with Jackie Chan: This is a very enjoyable 7 minute discussion by Chan, who chats about his style of fighting and choreographing the action sequences for a film like this one. It's intersting to hear about the challenges behind a martial arts film like this one.
Sneak Peaks: Disney/Miramax's usual "sneak peeks" trailers appear again here, although at least this time they do offer previews for other Chan films - "Shanghai Noon", "Project A", "Supercop", "Supercop 2", "Twin Dragons" and "Operation Condor". These trailers can be selected to watch separately from the menu. What's really suprising though, is that although the studio has been rather infamous lately for making trailers like these run before the main menu, that isn't the case here.
Final Thoughts: A fantastic action film full of some absolutely incredible stunts, "The Legend Of Drunken Master" is a definitely recommended - even more so for action fans. The only unfortunate part is that Dimension didn't do more for the DVD release.
The Film *** 1/2
Video 83/B = (332/400 possible points)
Audio: 88/B = (352/400 possible points)
Extras: 70/C- = (210/300 possible points)
Menus: 70/C- = (140/200 possible points)
Value: 82/B = (246/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: *** 1/2
DVD GRADE: B-