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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish
  Extras
  • Featurette - Behind the Master: An Interview with Jackie Chan

The Legend of Drunken Master

Buena Vista/Buena Vista . R4 . COLOR . 98 mins . M15+ . PAL

  Feature
Contract

This 1994 film, The Legend of the Drunken Master is one of Jackie Chan’s martial arts films with a traditional Chinese dialogue as opposed to the US input of an English script, seen in other films such as First Strike or Rumble in the Bronx.

If you have seen any of Jackie Chan’s films, you would know that he never says die, as mentioned by Vince in his The Accidental Spy review, he is like a human Energizer bunny. Even after being crushed, burnt, smashed, bashed, hit, whacked, crunched, kicked, squashed and injured, he'll get up and do it all over again because that take wasn’t quite authentic enough. Each and every one of his stunts is performed for real by him, with real fire, real weights, real sticks and real acrobatics. Today the computer can defy the rules of gravity, making anyone with a blue screen appear to jump extraordinarily high. But Jackie Chan does it for real, no computers, no blue screens, just 100% pure realism. Even with the current state of computer generated images, they still lack the authenticity of real stunts as they hold an identifiable “CG” look. This, along with every other Jackie Chan film, highlights creative, traditional and amazing martial arts combat, and gives audiences a different sense of awe watching this monkey of a man fight his way through the film.

The British government are in the midst of a smuggling ring exporting rare and expensive Chinese artefacts out of the country. So it is left up to Hung (Chan), against his father’s wishes, to help bring the evil plan down, and the only way to do this is with his unorthodox style of martial arts – drunken boxing. So what follows is a full-on frenzy of fights, falling, flying, far-out situations and fun, your typical Jackie Chan popcorn movie. But this film needs an alcohol disclaimer – if adverts have to display this, what needs to be said about drunken boxing?

  Video
Contract

The video is presented in its theatrical widescreen aspect of 2.35:1, and is 16:9 enhanced. Overall the transfer exudes realistically natural colours and skin tones, and is really easy to watch. The black areas appear a little too bright, and therefore suffer from a slightly grey appearance. Shadow detail is adequate, but the overall brightness of the scenes doesn’t leave a bold impression on anything. Compression-related artefacts are limited to some slight aliasing, while motion-related compression artefacts are thankfully nowhere to be seen.

Detail levels show a precise image, boasting the intricate details of the surroundings where the film takes place. Each plant frond and bamboo stick is mastered with a clear definition, cleanly showing off each and every rich detail.

Annoyingly, the transfer looks very raw and un-mastered. Obvious signs are the huge numbers of film artefacts skimming through, showing black specks as well as the original reel change cues. The contributing colours add to the raw appearance, and with a little bit of work this transfer could have been an absolute delight, rather than just “really easy” to watch.

  Audio
Contract

The solo Dolby Digital 5.1 track is in English, quite different to the film’s original Chinese soundtrack. Now as you would expect with any dub, audio synch is way out, and this transfer is no different – the old television series Monkey comes to mind. Some of the voices are cornily American, but thankfully Jackie Chan’s own English over-dub adds some slight credibility to the mix. But where is the original Chinese audio mix? Even though Australia is a predominantly English-speaking nation, many can speak Cantonese, and many do prefer to watch a foreign film subtitled in its original language. Oh well, perhaps next time...

This 5.1 track is located heavily in the front half of the soundstage, with very little activity in the surround channels except for the occasional ambient effect or chime of music. Sadly, the subwoofer suffers the same fate, only raising its head occasionally and subtly at that.

  Extras
Contract

Drunken Master misplaced Drunken Extras while in a Drunken State. A six-minute Interview with Jackie Chan is all that remains, covering the US release of the film and, of course, the stunts.

  Overall  
Contract

Grab this one for a quality Jackie Chan action-fest, sure to put some fire in your evening. It’s just a pity about the poor dub and lack of features. Maybe the Drunken DVD Authors left the Chinese language option in that empty bottle, along with the extras and Jackie Chan’s sanity?


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      And I quote...
    "If adverts have to display an alcohol warning, what needs to be said about drunken boxing?"
    - Martin Friedel
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Philips DVD 736K
    • TV:
          TEAC EU68-ST
    • Receiver:
          Sony HT-SL5
    • Speakers:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Centre Speaker:
          Sony SS-CNP2
    • Surrounds:
          Sony SS-MSP2
    • Subwoofer:
          Sony SA-WMSP3
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard Optical
    • Video Cables:
          standard s-video
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