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Drunken Master - Dual Blu-ray/DVD

Monday, 24 April 2017 23:00 Written by 

Drunken Master - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDJackie Chan stars in this 1978 hit about a young, pretentious kung fu student who is taught the art of drunken boxing as a punishment for shaming his father. Freddie Wong (Chan – “The Karate Kid” remake, the “Police Story” saga) tries to impress his mates by getting into fights and tricking a girl into kissing him. When his father hears the news he sends Freddie to sensei So Hi, a master feared for his infamously harsh training regime.

So Hi (Siu Tin Yuen – “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow”) is an alcoholic whose deceptive combat skills depend on his inebriation. Never separated from his flask of booze, So Hi teaches Freddie the fighting styles of ‘The Eight Drunken Immortals’. He also puts the upstart through many gruelling physical trials to boost his strength, endurance and balance. Meanwhile, a deadly assassin is prowling nearby and our duo eventually stray onto his radar.

“Drunken Master” is a one of Chan’s earliest action comedies but his rising star is already very evident. Charming, acrobatic and lightning quick, he makes the fight scenes look effortless and tumbles around in his signature style, using furniture and props to keep the action interesting and unpredictable. The kung fu is more balletic than full-contact, and the choreography flows smoothly.

Siu Tin Yuen is excellent in the role of the drunken master; he looks like a tramp with a glowing red nose and yet his powers of evasion and bamboozlement are staggering. He may make Freddie’s life a living nightmare but he also has a warmth and sympathetic side.

The assassin ‘Thunderleg’ is played with devilish menace by Jang Lee Hwang (“Game of Death II”); he is an unbeaten killer with devastating kicks. The movie does a great job of setting him up as a despicable foe, and even though Freddie’s unruly mentality early on make him a bit unlikable, the looming shadow of this enemy gets us on his side.

The slickness of the action scenes should not come as a surprise given that the director is Woo-Ping Yuen, an industry legend with stunt credits including “Kill Bill: Vol 2”, “Iron Monkey” and “Once Upon a Time in China” (amongst many others).

Kung Fu fans unfamiliar with Chan’s earlier work should lap this up; it is not perfect thanks to a relatively slight plot and ironically too much action, but it looks great (with the exception of the odd blurry moment) and along with a few other 1970s Chan films sets the tone and standard for the rest of his dazzling career.

Special features include:

  • Definitive transfer from 4K digital restoration
  • The original complete Cantonese soundtrack, rarely heard on home video
  • Alternate English and Mandarin audio options
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Audio commentary by Hong Kong film experts Ric Meyers and Jeff Yang
  • Video interview with Jackie Chan
  • New video interview with film scholar Tony Rayns
  • New video appreciation by director Gareth Evans (“The Raid” film series)
  • Deleted scene
  • Original trailer
  • Booklet featuring a new essay by Michael Brooke and archival imagery

“Drunken Master” (1978) is out now on dual-format Blu-ray and DVD (two discs), courtesy of Eureka. The main feature has a running time of 111 minutes approx, carries an '15' certificate and retails for £19.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com by CLICKING HERE.

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 27 April 2017 13:29

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