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Movie Review

The Legend of Drunken Master

MPAA Rating: R for violent content

Reviewed by: Allen Wilcox

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Action Comedy
1 hr. 33 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Jackie Chan
Featuring: Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Anita Mui, Lau Ka Leung, Ti Lung
Director: Lau Ka Leung
Producer: Barbie Tung, Edward Tang, Eric Tsang
Distributor: Dimension Films

“The Legend of Drunken Master” starts out a little slow, but it picks steam (pun intended) aboard a train in which Fie-hung and his father travel back to their home in China. Along the way a package entrusted to them by a patient is stolen, and they are thrust into a plot that has espionage, murder, stolen artifacts and a style of fighting called “The Drunken Fighting” (the master is, of course, Jackie Chan’s character who plays it up exceptionally well and in comic style). As a fan of his movies, I have often appreciated his comic timing. His films have never steeped into the film violence of Steven Segal or Chuck Norris.

Chia-Liang Lui’s wonderful and stylish direction only increases with every minute of the film. Jackie Chan’s incredible fighting style is put to great use in “Legend…” with intentionally exaggerated acting, comical characters and sublime plots pulling together to make this an enjoyable film. Antia Mui deserves high praise as Jackie Chan’s stepmother. Going against the typical stepmother relationship, hers is beautiful, cleaver, funny and actually cares for her stepson.

While this movie is entertaining, the viewer must be aware of the dangers of over drinking. This movie presents it in comic overtones, but one must be aware that such actual drinking can cause problems not only in one’s health, but in the areas of relationships. Remember that the first drunk ever recorded in the Bible was the same man who saved the entire human race, Noah. But because of his drunkenness, there was a split in his family. Such vices ultimately lead to pain and/or death in one form or another. Jesus came not only to save us from our sins, but also to heal us of all of our diseases, including alcoholism. The bottle hurts, but the cross heals.

While “The Legend of Drunken Master” is an enjoyable film, it is not for families. Viewer discretion is advised.

Viewer Comments
This was one of the most awesome Jackie Chan movies ever made. I have seen about all of his movies and I, by far, think this is the best. The only thing that could even be considered in this movie is some of the violence which is all kung-fu, and is done in humour. Also this movie promotes not drinking too much and getting drunk. Overall, this is a great, great movie. I recommend it for anyone. My Ratings: [Better than Average / 4½]
From a martial arts stand point, this movie was AWESOME!!! Arguably one of Jackie Chan’s best movies, only to be dumbed down by Dimension’s lousy dub and sound fx and music replacement. I don’t know why this movie is rated R, “Titanic” had more immoral things going on in it than this! Besides a scene with his onscreen father and a beautifully acted death scene by Lau Kar Leung, its all fun. PG-13 at the most. Plus, you kids out there get to learn the good moral that one shouldn’t drink too much to get drunk, cause it can ruin your mind and Chan’s father tries to tell Chan to drink responsibly (at least that’s one moral in the subtitled version, I don’t know if they altered dialogue or cut out the ending on the dubbed version). My Ratings: [2½/5]
—James, age 21
I find it very sad that so many people latch onto the “drunken” aspect of this movie. Remember… we are talking about *Jackie Chan* here, and that means that everything in this movie is taken to comedic extremes. First, let’s not overlook the *plot* of the film—Chan fights to keep foreigners from stealing China’s national treasures. Now, on to the “objectionable” subjects. Yes, Chan’s character, Wong Fei-Hung, drinks a lot in this film. He practices a form of kung-fu called “drunken boxing,” in which the drunker he gets the better he fights. But I doubt that anyone who watches this film with any amount of common sense will think that Chan is encouraging alchoholism. Fei-Hung’s father even issues warnings about the fine line between practicing drunken boxing and becoming an alcoholic. In fact, the whole reason he forbids Fei-Hung to fight is because he doesn’t want him to become an alcholic. And Fei-Hung even has to deal with the consequences of getting drunk. Others have complained about the violence. Yes, there are a lot of fights. But Chan’s fighting is not about brutality—it’s about thrilling audiences with outrageous moves and stunts. Watching these intricately choreographed sequences, you’ll probably find yourself more amazed at the incredible talent and ability of the combatants, and especially Chan as he performs jawdropping stunts such as falling into a bed of flaming coals, than shocked at any sort of malicious intent. If you have any concerns about Chan glorifying violence, just catch the outtakes at the end of the film. Here he reveals just how much time and energy (and pain) went into the making of this film. If anything, they reveal the consequences of filming dangerous material, of when a fight or stunt goes wrong. The *only* thing that I’d warn people about is the humor in the film. Not because it’s offensive, but because a lot of it will fall flat if you’re not familiar with the humor of Chan’s pre-American output. But, as with anything in this film, if taken with an ounce of common sense and a healthy suspension of disbelief, it won’t be offensive or harmful to one’s Christian walk. It may come off as lame or cheesy, but not offensive. If you *did* find yourself thrilled by Chan’s newer films, such as “Rush Hour” or “Shanghai Noon,” then this film is a must-see. There’s a reason why this is considered by many to be his best film. My Ratings: [3½/4]
—Jason Morehead, age 24
If you like Kung-Fu fighting then this is one of the best movies you can see. I have seen this movie before on my friends Hong-Kong laserdisk. A few scenes are cut or modified (as far as interpretation) from the original version, but everybody knows the plot of a Jackie Chan flick is a thin veil used to take you to the next incredible fighting scene. The plot if basically one seen in hundreds of Kung-Fu flicks. The foreigners (the English this time) are doing wrong to China (smuggling Chinese treasures). Jackie plays a son to a Kung-Fu/Doctor and he has a strong fighting technique called Drunk Boxing. His step-mom encourages him to fight in certain situations, and Jackie drinks a little too much and becomes drunk. Dad gets mad and kicks him out of the house. Jackie is then beat to pulp because he is too drunk. Jackie comes back home, and learns of the plot to steal the treasures from China. It is a little difficult to believe the characters motivations. It is a little difficult to believe that Jackie Chan is still living at home (this movie was made in 1994 while Jackie was at least in his upper 30’s). Its really all about the fight scenes which are absolutley fantastic. Unlike many action flicks, nobody’s head gets blown off, or eyes get gouged out. The action in this movie is mostly all kung-fu style with Jackie Chan’s amazing cat-like ability to fall on his feet (most of the time) The action is fast, furious, sometimes hilarious, and will have you searching for the “rewind button” just so you can see it again. I was in awe. My Ratings: [3½/4]
—Tom, age 32
Movie Critics
…Scenes with large quanities of strong alcohol gulped down in short time set a potentially fatal example for weaker viewers…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Violence is extreme…
…MESSAGE—Alcohol can help one fight better by reducing pain and loosening the body, but it’s very easy to get very drunk…