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Monday, June 09, 2008

The Legend of Drunken Master

****½ The Legend of Drunken Master. Comedy, action/adventure. Directed by: Liu Chia-Liang (Lau Kar-Leung). Starring: Jackie Chan, Lung Ti, Anita Mui, Felix Wong, Lau Kar-Leung

I watched this on VHS while exercising.

Jackie Chan is Wong Fei Hung, the son of a healer and a martial arts instructor. Returning with his father from an herb-buying trip, he tries to save some customs tax and hides their box of ginseng in a diplomat's luggage. When he retrieves it on the train (which involves a complex fight sequence on, in, and under the train), he ends up with a smuggled jade artifact instead.

So Wong Fei Hung has to hide the loss of the ginseng from his father, as well as the fact that he's been fighting, and fighting using the Drunken Master style. He ends up stumbling upon a plot to smuggle artifacts out of the country, and gets involved in trying to stop them.

The fight scenes are Jackie Chan's trademark blend of martial arts and humor, and the Drunken Master style is just what it sounds like.

But you expect all that from a Jackie Chan movie. What you don't expect, and what makes me enjoy watching this movie over and over again, is Anita Mui, who plays Mrs. Wong, his stepmother. She aids and abets her stepson's mischief, and engages in some of her own, always sneaking in a Mah-jongg game when she can get away with it. She goes from tough and able to weeping inconsolably in the blink of an eye, and has amazing comic timing, as well as her own martial arts skills. You know she's good if she outshines Jackie Chan in his own movie.

So I looked her up on the IMDB, only to find she'd died in 2003. She'd made a lot of movies, though, and quite a few of them are available on Netflix. I just updated my queue.

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I've seen lot of Jackie Chan's past movies, and love them all. The Legend of Drunken Master, is one of them. Jackie does humors and fighting sequence very well.

There another old movie that I think you should try, can't remember the titles but he played two characters that look alike but they are not "twin". One is piano musician and the other one is just his normal self. I laugh through out the whole movie.

Great review as always!
I liked this movie too. I was a little embarrassed that I liked it but I did. Great idea to hook up the VHS while exercising. I'll have to check that out.
I'm glad you enjoyed this movie, Darla! I love watching Jackie Chan's movies; not only for the martial arts but for the humor too! Indeed Anita Mui had passed away a few years ago... she had been a great artiste, and a good singer too.
Legend of Drunken Master is secretly a sequel, and the character of Wong Fei Hong is a pretty standard stock character in HK cinema (Jet Li in Once Upon a Time in China). The original Drunken Master dates back to the 70's (1978?) but doesn't have the comedy edge of its sequel.

I believe Julia's referring to Twin Dragons, above; Rumble in the Bronx is a pretty decently slapstick production, but recently, I've had a lot more laughs out of Stephen Chow flicks -- Shaolin Soccer, Kung Fu Hustle, and one that was just in the theaters -- the title escapes me.
Thanks for the recommendations--I have Shaolin Soccer & Kung Fu Hustle in my Netflix queue. I don't think the recent one made it over here, but I'll look for that one as well.
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