director: chia-liang liu
jackie chan, anita mui
|.||The plot of Jackie Chanís not-so-new film is an incomprehensible
mess involving stolen antiquities, evil Brits and father-son conflict,
but we all know itís all quite beside the point -- you go to see a Jackie
Chan film to see state-of-the-art ass-kicking.
The Legend of Drunken Master is a six-year-old film, made during the zenith of Chanís career at Golden Harvest studios in Hong Kong, released no doubt to satisfy the fans he began winning over here long before Hollywood success with films like Rush Hour. The fact that his Hong Kong films stand head and shoulders above anything he can do in Hollywood is a plus, not a minus: there are dozens of Chan films that can be re-released while the strain of making martial arts movies inevitably wears down the absurdly resilient Chan.
As any Three Stooges fan can tell you, slapstick is violence, drained of its physical trauma and dramatic weight, and Chanís martial arts films are great slapstick. The plot is immaterial, and the set-piece fights -- like Chan versus forty axe-wielding toughs in a rapidly demolished tea-house -- are the whole and entire point. Stay for the customary Chan out-takes, screened during the credits, to see how really painful and dangerous the violence is, even in the hands of a master like Chan.