Let it be said that Jackie Chan, the undisputed “Clown Prince of Kung-fu,” is a good stuntman. Let it also be said that Jackie Chan, the actor, is a one-trick pony. Then, let it be said that “Drunken Master 2” (re-titled “Legend of Drunken Master” for re-release in the U.S.) is a movie about stunts and fight choreography than about anything as foolish as, say, a story.
It’s easy to watch a Hong Kong action flick like this one and shrug off the storyline. Why? Because, simply put, there isn’t much “story” in the storylines. What passes for plot and plot points in Hong Kong kung-fu movies are — well, not much passes for plot and ploott points in Hong Kong kung-fu movies. I’ve found that Jackie Chan’s movies are almost always dependent on one big McGuffin from which all of the movie starts from, continues, and ends with a resolution. In this way, I wouldn’t recommend a novice screenwriter to take anything away from the Hong Kong action movies. There is simply not a lot of meat to be chewed.
That having been said, “Drunken Master 2” is probably Jackie Chan’s last great Hong Kong-made action movie. It is pure entertainment with incredible stunts choreographed and shot by Chan himself. (Chan, who is an accomplished director and a stunt coordinator himself, is an uncredited director in this movie.) All the classic Jackie Chan moves that he will later re-use in his American movies are all here.
The movie’s plot involves stolen Chinese art and culture. It seems mustache-twirling Chinamen have struck a devil’s bargain with evil western Imperialist to plunger China’s great treasures and, I suppose, take it to the evil western Imperialist countries to sell or (*gasp!*) put in their museums. Whatever.
The plot is incidental and provides Chan the opportunity to kick some serious ass and drink a lot of water that is supposed to be wine. You see, the title of the movie, and Chan’s greatest prowess, is his ability to do “drunken fighting.” But Chan’s character can only fully achieve greatness with the martial arts skill when he drinks so much that a lesser man would puke. Unfortunately for Chan, his father forbids him from ever drinking again, but fortunately for Chan, his mother (played by the awfully young Anita Mui) tends to bend the rules and have made a habit out of tossing her son one bottle after another in the middle of combat.
If you’re looking for a movie that is chock full of nonstop action, “Drunken Master II” is for you. If you’re looking for a deep, meaningful Chinese martial arts flick, then I suggest “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”
Chia-Liang Liu (director) / Edward Tang, Man-Ming Tong (screenplay)
CAST: Jackie Chan, Lung Ti, Anita Mui