THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Jackie Chan's Drunken Master II helped cement his position as
of the world's top action-comedy stars. Unfortunately, the
optimistically titled Drunken Master III (1994) has no discernible
relation to Jackie or Drunken Master II. It doesn't really feature the drunken fighting
style that was that film's trademark. There's a lot of wine and ample
use of drunk fist kung fu, a subtle variation on other kung fu styles,
but Jackie was smart enough to know that, in order to make a visual
impact, drunk style meant taking it to the next level. (First get
drunk, preferably by pouring a jug of booze over your head. Then, start
flailing around like a madman, conquering your opponents as if by
chance.) The fighters in Drunken Master III all fight extremely
well, and they do mix humor in with the parrying, but nobody here
for Jackie's brand of lunacy.
Actually, given the costumes, period, and semi-political bent of the
film, it seems to take Peking Opera Blues as a model more than
the Drunken Master films, which is fine. The plot is a
mix of royalty and revolution, with statements on foreigners and cults
thrown in for good measure. While the story may be something of a mess,
and the finale typically abrupt, the film is fun to watch, with a huge
cast of charismatic Hong Kong stars. One particularly unusual fight
one of the heroes fending off a gay challenger on a primitive, slow
moving bus. Eventually he tries to counter with what can only be called
"gay fu." Hardly politically correct, but certainly something I've
The widescreen video is ok, but far from great. A good deal of dirt and
occasional video flaws mar the print, as does a general lack of
sharpness and color. It could be worse, but it ain't great.
The audio is also weak. Soundtracks are available in 2.0 Mandarin and
2.0 Cantonese, with burned in Chinese and English subtitles. Most of
sound is a bit muffled, although one track emphasizes treble while the
other is more muted (don't ask me which is which).
There are no extras.
While the title may have been a marketing ploy, Drunken Master
overcomes the inherent disappointment in it's not really being a
Drunken Master film with wit, energy, and sense of fun.
Other martial arts DVDs:
The Buddha Assassinator
Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.
E-mail Gil at firstname.lastname@example.org