Friday, March 4, 2011

The Legend of Drunken Master (Chia-Liang Liu)

Drunken and victorious.

Simply put, Jackie Chan at his most relentless best, using every tricks from his disposal and utilizing almost all the prop techniques that he had shown in his documentary film "My Stunts" into great effect. Yes, it's Mr. Chan's finest moment, in terms of fight sequences.

But when we talk about the plot itself and the seemingly weird over-the-top response of the characters in certain situations (really, doing all of it for the sake of some pesky artifacts? Sending hordes of axe-wielding militia to attack an old man and an incompetent martial artist?), "The Legend of Drunken Master" (or "Drunken Master II" for those very concerned with continuity) still has some issues.

Jackie Chan, known for combining flawlessly choreographed fight scenes with slapstick comedy, has not faltered in a single scene, and at times, even convincingly shifting from overtly animated laugh riots into sudden dramatic pathos. Some may call this 'transitionally implausible" to execute. But for Jackie Chan (he's playing Wong Fei-hong in this film again, by the way), who's got lots more to cover than cheaply-conceived emotions (such as a stint on literally playing with the wonders of fire), nothing is complex when great 'timing' is involved.

This is martial arts cinema at its peak. No wires, no majestic philosophical notions about heaven and earth. Just the Buster Keaton-inspired Jackie Chan with lots of guts, a talent to showcase and, inserting the excitement and almost spell-bound sensation that I have felt while watching the climactic showdown in an extremely combustible steel factory, some breath to take.


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