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The 100




Drunken Master
(1979)
Reviewed by John Trager
Rating: 3.5 Beans

his is one of the earlier Jackie Chan films that is more-or-less available commercially here in the US. To be fair, it almost doesn't belong in the BM archives. Jackie is his normal kickass self, and there's a surprise appearance by Michelle Yeoh in which she's pretty sassy as well. The action sequences are great -- excellent kung fu scenes for those who like martial arts flicks. I suspect this is why the movie has an 8.5 rating on the IMDB. There are some really cool scenes with varying kung fu styles, which is always kinda neat, and enough things get broken early in the movie to make it fun.

The quick'n'dirty of the plot (and there isn't much) is this: Jackie is the spoiled son of a very good kung fu artist who refuses to listen to any of his teachers. He's pretty good to begin with, and does some good fighting early, but is rapidly taught the error of his ways. As penitence, he is sent to the infamous teacher Sam the Snead. Sam has a bad reputation for working his students to the bone, and Jackie tries to escape his fate. Of course, he doesn't, and is forced to start to learn Snead's kung fu. Snead's kung fu is a style known as "The Seven Drunken Gods," and all of his techniques are characterized by requiring a flagon of wine in hand.
The physical comedy of the Drunken Kung Fu styles is fully worth watching the movie, and the high point is Jackie Chan's impersonation of the Drunken Goddess at the end of the movie. Amateur boozers like myself can also take enjoyment from a) making a drinking game of the movie, or b) just cheering when Snead shows he can only fight drunk.

Okay, now for the bad... the only reason this movie makes the BM list is because of the sound. The Foley artist for this movie should be taken out back, strapped down over an anthill, then stomped on by very small men wearing golf shoes. And then he should be shot. Repeatedly. With small caliber bullets. The sound is horrible to the point that I cannot put it into words. Subtle kung fu moves are accompanied by giant WHOMPING sounds, the so-called music in the movie is tinny beyond belief, and it sounds like they only had 3 sound effects to choose from for the entire movie.

I mean, everyone expects kung fu movies to have little or no plot. And this one is lacking in those departments as well (although it does have the obligatory Threat-To-The-Family plot element). The fighting is cool and the filming isn't even _that_ bad, all things considered. However, the occasionally spotty contrast levels in the movie and the absolutely horrible sound take it to a new level. It's no Black Belt Jones, but it's closer to Jones than Enter the Dragon. This was much more a classic B-movie to me than a classic Jackie Chan flick.






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