Written by: Michael Den Boer on February 14th, 2017
BluRay released: December 31st, 2015
Approximate running time: 111 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: M (Australia)
Sound: DTS-HD Mono English, DTS-HD Mono Cantonese
BluRay Release: Umbrella Entertainment
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: $19.99
Drunken Master is the directorial debut of Woo-Ping Yuen, who’s initial rise to prominence was as a fight choreographer. His notable films as a director include, The Magnificent Butcher, Iron Monkey and Tai-Chi Master.
When discussing martial arts cinema, there is no denying Bruce Lee’s impact on the genre. And though there was a concerted effort to find someone to fill the void left due to his untimely death. With the majority of so called successful being nothing more than “Clones” of Bruce Lee.
By the end of the 1970’s martial arts cinema was at a crossroads. And what was once considered tried and true formulas were starting to wear thin. Fortunately, for martial arts cinema it was about to experience a resurgence that would finally free the genre from Bruce Lee’s long shadow.
And though there were a handful of films from this era that have left a lasting impact on martial arts cinema. There is one that stands taller than its contemporaries and its influence continues to reverberate. Case in point, Drunken Master.
On the surface this film’s narrative appears to be another all too familiar tale about a fighter who’s has to drastically improve his Kung Fu in order to defeat an evil nemesis. And yet the end result is something that puts a much-needed spin on this subject. With comedy playing an integral role in this film’s success.
From a production standpoint, there is not an area where this film does not excel. The narrative is meticulously constructed and pacing is never an issues as key moments are given just the right amount of time to resonate for maximum impact. And when it comes to the fight sequences they are all creative and well executed. With this film’s standout moments being, a scene where this film’s protagonist is badly beaten and humiliated by Thunderleg. Another standout moment includes, the training sequence where the protagonists learns “Drunken Fist” Kung Fu.
Performance wise the entire are all very good in their respective roles. With this film’s standout performance being Jackie Chan (Wheels on Meals, Police Story) in the role of Wong Fei-Hung, a Chinese folk hero who has had numerous movies and televisions shows made out him. Before Drunken Master Jackie Chan was one of many actors who were groomed to be a successor to Bruce Lee. In these film’s he was essentially a Bruce Lee “Clone” and these films were considered box office failures. His breakout film would be Drunken Master a film that finally allowed him to incorporate more of himself into the roles he portrayed. Other standout performances include, Jang Lee Hwang (Game of Death 2, Ninja Strikes Back) in the role of Thunderleg and Siu Tin Yuen (Heroes of the East) in the role of the Drunken Master.
Drunken Master comes on a 25 GB single layer BluRay. The film is presented in a 1080 progressive widescreen. This image looks crisp, colors and flesh tones look accurate and black levels fare well. Print debris is minimal, grain remains intact and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a DTS-HD mono mix in English and a DTS-HD mono mix in Cantonese. Both audio mixes sound, clear, balanced and robust when they need too. Included with this release are removable English subtitles. It should be noted that the English subtitles are “dub titles”.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (4 minutes 16 seconds), a UK music promo for the film (1 minute 25 seconds), a deleted scene (1 minute 43 seconds), a segment titled Kicking Showcase (1 minute 30 seconds), an interview with producer NG See Yuen (14 minutes 5 seconds) and an audio commentary with Hong Kong film experts Ric Meyers and Jeff Yang.
Topics discussed in the interview with NG See Yuen include, how he got his start in the film industry working for the Shaw Brothers, his thoughts about various film’s that he worked on, actors he helped discover and the future of Hong Kong Action cinema.
Topics discussed in the audio commentary include, the legacy of Drunken Master, the role this film played in Jackie Chan’s, the character Wong Fei-Hung and how before this film he had always been played with a seriousness, Cantonese comedy in marital art films, Wei Lo and why he let Jackie Chan out of his contract, Jackie Chan’s Peking Opera upbringing and how it has influenced his films, Bruce Lee “Clones” and why any attempt at cloning Jackie Chan was unsuccessful and other martial arts related topics.
The extra titled Kicking Showcase is a fight scene taken from the movie. Overall Drunken Master gets a strong release from Umbrella Entertainment.