Copyright 1999-2003 3BlackChicks Enterprises™. All Rights Reserved.

Bams' review of
The Legend Of Drunken Master


The Legend Of Drunken Master (1994)
Rated R; running time 99 minutes
Studios: Dimension Films (English version, 2000)
Genre: Martial Arts/Comedy
Seen at: Celebration Cinema (Lansing, Michigan)
IMDB site:
Written by: Edward Tang, Tong Man Ming, Yuen Chieh Chi
Directed by: Lau Ka Leung
Cast: Jackie Chan, Ti Lung, Anita Mu, Felix Wong, Chin Kar Lok, Ho Wing Fong, Low Houi Kang, Ho Sung Pak, Lau Ka Yung

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2000

(click here to skip to this movie's rating)

There comes a time in every Chick's life when she has an epiphany so mind-blowing, it forever alters her life, causing her to grow up far quicker than she expected to, and making well-done hamburger patties out of her Sacred Cows.

My time came Sunday, with the realization that Bruce Lee isn't the greatest martial artist the movie world has ever seen.

THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
The Legend Of Drunken Master humorously tells the story of Chinese folk legend Wong Fei-Hong (Jackie Chan), young master of the "Drunken Boxing" kung fu style of martial arts.

In this almost plot-overloaded movie, Wong Fei-Hong and his hapless brother Cho (Lau Ka Yung), travel by train with their father, Dr. Wong Kei-Ying (Ti Lung), bringing medical supplies back to their home. Part of their supplies - some medicinal ginseng - gets mixed up in the baggage of the Ambassador, leading to a struggle between Fei-Hong and a mysterious old man, Tsang (Felix Wong) over the package. The struggle gets especially interesting when Fei-Hong tries to impress Tsang with his Drunken Boxing style of kung fu (which he doesn't do nearly as well when he's not drunk).

Fei-Hong also has comical misunderstandings with his father, who doesn't want Fei-Hong to either fight or drink - both of which, of course, Fei-Hong does in abundance; with his mother, Madame Wong (Anita "Lucy Ricardo, Jr" Mui); and with friendly rival Fe Sang (Chin Kar Lok), who spars with Fei-Hong for the attention of the lovely Fun (Ho Wing Fong). Fei-Hong and his Folks face epic battles with the Ambassador's henchmen Henry (Ho Sung Pak) and John (Low Houi Kang, who has the fastest kicks I've ever seen), and a rather hot bed of coals.

Sober, Fei-Hong is good; but to do Drunken Boxing the way it needs to be done, he has to get good and toasted, which he does on more than one occasion. And what commences are some of the outright funniest skits and amazing martial arts scenes I've ever seen in one movie.

Ok, so maybe I exaggerated a wee bit; maybe Chan didn't exactly Rock My World, but he did shake the foundations a bit. It really was quite eye-opening to see just how Bad the man is - and in a relatively unpolished, six-year-old movie, no less!

To some, the plot of a martial arts movie is like the plot of a porn flick: most people don't bother paying attention to the words; they just want to get to the Action [the same has been said about Black "booty call" comedies, so don't Trip over the analogy]. Which goes to show you how warped we westerners can be sometimes - because the plot was well-developed in Legend. Still, I won't lie; I got lost in the backstory with the English Overlord (I think that's what he was supposed to be), to the point where I totally dismissed him whenever he came on-screen. I imagine part of my confusion comes from the fact that I haven't seen the film Legend is a sequel to - 1978's Drunken Master - and thus don't fully know who's who within Fei-Hong's circle of friends and enemies.

But the point remains: this movie was a lot more than the "chop socky" so often dismissed when we see a "Karate Flick". Sure, the kung fu was there at base, and rightly so (I'd pay to see those scenes by themselves, especially the final battle; it was that good). But the humor was strong - especially with Anita Mui; I swear I cracked a rib on her account! - and I even found myself crying with sadness when Fei-Hong got chewed out by his father. Add some interesting cultural references on top of that, and you have yourself a well-rounded movie. Granted,it's no Citizen Kane; but could Kane drink like a fish and then kick serious butt? Thought not!

It's funny: I was just telling some friends about how much I enjoyed the DVD release of Shanghai Noon, a Jackie Chan east-meets-west flick I reviewed earlier this year. Besides the great DVD features available in this cut, Chan's trademark outtakes and behind-the-scenes bits show the true measure of his technical and cinematic skills. But who knew it would take a six-year-old flick like Legend to finally make me bow to the master?

I have never, ever, laughed harder, or damn near cried my eyes out, at "just a karate flick", the way I did during The Legend Of Drunken Master. Bruce Lee was baaad, no doubt; but Jackie Chan is The Man. Chan has stood the test of time, and still comes out swinging. Sit down, Steven Segal; take a hike, Jean Claude Van Damme. Check out this older Jackie Chan flick, and see what Legends truly are made of.



I still love me some Bruce Lee, and I always will. But the king is dead: long live King Jackie.

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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2000
EMAIL:    ICQ: 7760005

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed week of 10/20/00):

Bams' reviews:
Bamboozled | Pay It Forward | Bedazzled
The Legend Of Drunken Master

The Diva's reviews:
Bamboozled | Pay It Forward | Bedazzled

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