Drunken Master II
|Drunken Master II|
Drunken Master II film poster
|Mandarin||Zuì Quán Èr|
|Cantonese||Zeoi3 Kyun4 Ji6|
|Directed by||Lau Kar-leung|
Jackie Chan (uncredited)
|Music by||William Hu|
|Edited by||Peter Cheung|
Hong Kong Stuntmen Association
|Distributed by||Golden Harvest (HK) Dimension Films (US)|
|Box office||US$34.31 million|
Drunken Master II (Chinese: 醉拳二; Cantonese Yale: Jui Kuen II) is a 1994 Hong Kong action-comedy kung fu film directed by Lau Kar-leung and Jackie Chan, who stars as Chinese martial arts master and folk hero of Cantonese ethnicity, Wong Fei-hung. It was Chan's first traditional style martial arts film since The Young Master (1980) and Dragon Lord (1982). The film was released in North America as The Legend of Drunken Master in 2000.
The film is a sequel to Chan's 1978 film Drunken Master, directed by Yuen Woo-ping. Another film, Drunken Master III (1994, directed by Lau Kar-Leung) features little in common with either this or its predecessor, and is not considered a sequel. In 2005, Drunken Master II was named one of the top 100 best films of all time by Time magazine. In 2015, the British Film Institute (BFI) selected Drunken Master II as one of the 10 best action movies of all time.
The story begins in early 20th century China at a crowded train station, with Wong Fei-hung (Jackie Chan), his father, Dr. Wong Kei-ying (Ti Lung), and the family servant, Tso (Ram Cheung), waiting in line. Fei-hung is angry about having to pay a duty on the ginseng that Kei-ying is bringing back for a client. Disobeying his father, Fei-hung hides the ginseng in the suitcase of an employee of the British consul to avoid the tax (as Consul workers are exempt from duties).
When the train makes a stop, Fei-hung and Tso create a diversion to sneak into the first class section (filled with members of the British Consulate and the British Ambassador) to retrieve the ginseng. When Fei-hung gets to the first class luggage car, he spots a Manchurian officer (Lau Kar-leung) stealing an unknown item that is in a similar package as the ginseng. Fei-hung tries to speak with him but the officer hits him. However, Fei-hung retrieves the ginseng, and pursues the officer in revenge for hitting him. A long fight between them ensues under the train, during which the officer calls him a "henchman". Puzzled, Fei-hung angrily tells the officer that he is not a henchman and challenges him to a hand-to-hand kung fu fight. Fei-hung uses his Zui Quan (Drunken Boxing) style of martial arts on him, but it proves ineffective. After the fight, the officer tells Fei-hung that his drunken boxing is slow and powerless. When Fei-hung returns to the train, the Manchurian officer opens the box he stole, only to realize that he accidentally stole the Wongs' ginseng.
Meanwhile, on the train, guards of the British Consulate search for the stolen box and they ask the Wongs to show them their items. Fei-hung discovers that what he thought was his father's ginseng was actually a valuable Chinese antique. But before the officers discover it, a sympathetic son of a Northeast Chinese general (Andy Lau) uses his influence to intervene (in both English dubbed versions, the man is actually a counterintelligence officer). Later, it's revealed that the British ambassador (Louis Roth) is corrupt and involved in an operation to smuggle and sell ancient Chinese artifacts. However, buyers won't purchase the collection without the missing Emperor's Jade Seal (the artifact now in Fei-hung's possession). Then he sends his henchman, John (Ken Lo) and Henry (Ho-Sung Pak), to make the workers at a local steel factory work overtime without pay. When the workers refuse, Henry physically overpowers the workers and forces them to submit to the overtime working orders.
When the Wongs return home from their train ride, trouble brews for Fei-hung when his father's client, Mr. Chan, comes to retrieve the ginseng root. Fei-hung takes the root of his father's prized ancient bonsai tree, discreetly gives it to Mr. Chan and tells him that it is the ginseng. Knowing that the bonsai tree root could be deadly for Mr. Chan if he decides to brew it, Fei-hung's step-mom, Ling (Anita Mui) decides to temporarily loan her necklace to one of her friends in exchange for some money to buy ginseng. This leads some of Master Wong's friends to believe that the Wongs are having financial troubles, and they offer him a collection, which a confused Master Wong declines. Meanwhile, Fei-hung and Ling do not realize that Henry and his men are following them, having (correctly) suspected Fei-hung of stealing the jade seal. Assuming that the bag Ling and Fei-hung are carrying is the stolen artifact (although it's actually Ling's necklace), they attempt to steal the bag, which starts a fight between Fei-hung vs. Henry and his men. During the fight, Ling encourages Fei-hung to use drunken boxing against them to impress the crowd and gain publicity for the Wongs' school, Po Chi Lam. She and her friends take a bunch of alcohol from a country club and give it to Fei-hung, which allows him to do drunken boxing properly, and then he impressively defeats Henry and his henchmen in front of the crowd. However, Master Wong Kei-ying arrives as the fight ends, and Fei-hung's drunken behavior embarrasses the family. He takes his son and wife home and lectures them, saying they are destroying his reputation by fighting and drinking in public, and for making others believe that they are broke. He beats Fei-hung for fighting and using drunken boxing (which Master Wong forbids). To make matters worse, Mr. Chan's wife comes by to tell Kei-ying that her husband is very sick from the bonsai tree root (which is poisonous if consumed). An infuriated Master Wong beats Fei-hung even more and disowns him, kicking him out of the house.
Fei-hung goes to a restaurant and drinks heavily in sorrow. John arrives with a beaten Henry and the rest of the henchman from earlier to confront him. Fei-hung is now clearly too drunk to fight, and John beats him. Fishmonger Tsang (Felix Wong), a fellow Choy Li Fut instructor and friend of Fei-hung, arrives and tries to intervene, but is unable to when a vat of hot liquid he was carrying spills on him. The next morning, Fei-hung and Tsang are found knocked out beaten, with Fei-hung stripped with a banner hanging from him that says "King of Drunken Boxing." Master Wong brings Fei-hung back into the home, and explains that the reason why he forbids drunken boxing is because it is difficult for drunken boxers to find the right balance of alcohol consumption. The following night, the Manchurian officer from the train arrives at the Wong's residence to speak to Fei-hung. Master Wong recognizes him as Master Fu Wen-chi, the "last decorated Manchu officer." The next day at a restaurant, Master Fu explains to Fei-hung that the artifact that ended up in Fei-hung's possession (and what Master Fu meant to steal from the train) was the Emperor's Jade seal. He tells him about the theft of precious ancient Chinese artifacts by foreigners and asks him for help in stopping it, which Fei-Hung agrees to do. Moments later, an enormous gang of axe-wielding thugs (known as the Axe Gang), apparently paid for by the British Consulate, try to kill them. After a long fight, Fei-hung and Master Fu make an escape, and Fishmonger Tsang, Fun, and Tsang's student, Marlon (Lau Ka-yung) join the fight, as they recognize Master Fu. But a British consulate guard fatally shoots Master Fu when he runs down an alley, and they take back the Jade seal. Fu Wen-chi pleads with them to get it back before dying.
The following night, both Tsang and Fei-hung break into the consulate disguised as consulate guards to retrieve the Jade seal, but are both eventually caught. They are jailed, beaten, and held for ransom by the British Ambassador, who demands that Wong Kei-ying sells the land where Po Chi Lam and Fishmonger Tsang's schools are. Master Wong reluctantly agrees to do so and the Consulate releases Fei-hung and Tsang. Then, the ambassador orders the steel mill to be closed down and for all of the steel shipments to be sent to Hong Kong. Angry, steelworkers Fo-sang (Chin Kar-lok) and a man named Uncle Hing (Hon Yee-sang) break into the steel mill later that night to find out what the British are up to, and they discover the steel shipment boxes are filled with ancient Chinese artifacts. However, they are caught and they fight the consulate's henchman. Fo-sang escapes and informs Fei-hung and Ling about what is happening.
Later, Fei-hung, Tsang, Fun, and Marlon arrive at the factory where the workers are staging a protest that becomes violent against the Consulate's abuses. Once inside the factory, Fei-hung takes on all of the henchmen until only Henry and John are left. Fei-hung easily fights off Henry but John proves to be a tough opponent due to his fast and unpredictable kicks. When John and Henry gain the upper hand and are about to finish him off, Fei-hung uses the industrial alcohol in the steel mill to light Henry on fire, and then drinks it. Disposing of Henry, Fei-hung defeats John in a wild fight scene with his drunken boxing.
Later, the Wongs are rewarded by a Chinese general for their help in stopping the British Consulate's crimes, which includes a sum of money and the return of Tsang's and Wong's schools.
Cast and crew
Drunken Master II was nominally presented by Golden Harvest studio founder Leonard Ho. The film was directed by Lau Kar-leung, although Jackie Chan is credited with directing the final fight scene. The villain in the scene is played by Ken Lo, a Jackie Chan Stunt Team member and Chan's former personal bodyguard. The action direction was by Lau Kar-leung in co-operation with the Jackie Chan Stunt Team.
- Jackie Chan as Wong Fei-hung
- Anita Mui as Ling aka Mother
- Ti Lung as Wong Kei-ying aka Father
- Felix Wong as Fishmonger Tsang
- Lau Kar-leung as Master Fu Wen-chi
- Andy Lau as Cheung Hok-leung, son of Northeast General on train. In the English-dubbed American version, he is a counter intelligence officer (cameo appearance)
- Ho Wing-fong as Fun
- Ram Chiang as Chang Tsan
- Ken Lo as John
- Ho-Sung Pak as Henry
- Chin Kar-lok as Fo-sang
- Bill Tung as General rewarding Wong Kei-ying (cameo appearance)
- Hon Yee-sang as Uncle Hing
- Lau Ka-yung as Marlon, Fishmonger Tsan's student
- Lau Siu-ming as Mr. Chu
- Suki Kwan as Mrs. Chu
- Pak Yan as Mrs. Chan
- Szema Wah Lung as Senior in Restaurant #2
- Yvonne Yung as Ling's friend
- Vindy Chan as Ling's friend
- Louis Roth as British Consul
- Tai Po as Moe
- Alan Chan as Fight Spectator in the Crowd
- Mark Houghton as British military officer Smith
- Ho Pak-kwong as Uncle Ho (uncredited)
- Sandy Chan as Lily
- Vincent Tuatanne as Bruno
- Therese Renee as Terese
- Mars as Fight Spectator in the Crowd / Thug in Final Fight (uncredited)
No DVD has been made available to date that preserves the original aspect ratio and the uncut version of the film with the original Cantonese audio track. The film's purest English-friendly version can only be found on now out-of-print releases – the Mei Ah VCD and LaserDisc, Tai Seng's VHS (itself a recording of the Mei Ah LaserDisc) and the Australian VHS from Chinatown Video (a sub label of Siren Visual). These prints have "burnt-in" Chinese/English subtitles. An uncut release with good picture quality, the original audio track, and the original aspect ratio is considered a "holy grail" by many Hong Kong cinema fans.
Thakral's region 0 DVD release of Drunken Master II is the only version which features the entire Hong Kong version with proper English subtitles. However, on the DVD the aspect ratio is cropped to 1.78:1 from the original theatrical 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The region 3 releases for Hong Kong and Korea contains the English export version with the original 2:35:1 non-anamorphic aspect ratio. This cut of the film ends almost immediately after Fei-Hung defeats John. The audio tracks include an abridged Cantonese and Mandarin soundtracks, and the original Golden Harvest English dub different than that of Dimension's. It contains the original score and sound effects, but there are no English subtitles.
Of all the films in Chan's back-catalogue that received North American theatrical distribution, Drunken Master II was cut the least. A scene in which Wong drunkenly sings at a café was re-cut slightly, making use of a few alternate takes not seen in the original Cantonese version. In addition, a 35 second cut was made to the concluding scene of the film which showed Wong blinded and mentally crippled as a result of drinking industrial alcohol during the film's ultimate fight. Played for laughs, the scene was considered to be in bad taste by the American distributor, Dimension Films.
In addition to the cut, however, there were other significant changes made to the US release including the change of title (to Legend of Drunken Master), an English-language dub (Chan dubbed himself), and a new musical score. The re-dubbed soundtrack also meant that sound effects were different, in some instances completely altering the rhythm of the fight scenes.
The English dub also makes references to animal kung fu styles such as Drunken Monkey, as well as made-up names for random moves during the first two instances that Wong Fei-hung uses drunken boxing. The original dialogue referenced the Eight Drunken Immortals technique, which was also featured in Drunken Master (1978) based on the real-life Daoist style of Drunken Fist. The change was most likely done to compensate for the general western audience's unfamiliarity with Chinese mythology as well as the preceding film.
The Australian (region 4) and Japanese (region 2) release featured the same cuts and re-scoring as the US release.
A Blu-ray version was released on 15 September 2009, in the United States, which features the cut US version in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
In the UK it was released on Blu-ray 16 April 2012 under the title The Legend Of Drunken Master.
The original, uncut Hong Kong version was finally made available on Blu-ray in China, Korea and Japan, courtesy of Warner Bros., on 11 October 2018 under the title Drunken Master II.
This section contains too many or overly lengthy quotations for an encyclopedic entry. (November 2018)
"When I did a seminar at the Hawaii Film Festival several years ago, comparing the physical comedy of Chan and Buster Keaton, martial arts fans brought in their bootleg Hong Kong laser discs of this film and told me that I had to see the final 20-minute fight sequence. They were correct. Coming at the end of a film filled with jaw-dropping action scenes, this extended virtuoso effort sets some kind of benchmark: It may not be possible to film a better fight scene."
In Entertainment Weekly, Lisa Schwarzbaum gave the film an A- grade and wrote:
"A half dozen years after its Asian release, and over two decades after the original Drunken Master made Jackie Chan a star in Hong Kong, The Legend of Drunken Master may be the most kick-ass demonstration yet, for the majority of American moviegoers, of what the fuss is all about: To many aficionados (who know the video as Drunken Master II), this 1994 favorite, remastered and dubbed in "classic" bad Chinese-accented English, showcases Chan in his impish glory, dazzling in his ability to make serious, complicated fighting look like devil-may-care fun."
"The most important and entertaining star of east Asian cinema, Jackie Chan survived a boyhood in a punishing Peking Opera School, and his early screen days as "the next Bruce Lee" to create his own genre of martial-arts comedies [..] Jackie starred in, and directed, many wonderful action films in his pre-Hollywood days. This one can stand at the peak".
James Berardinelli was one of the less fervent reviewers:
"The Legend of Drunken Master is pretty typical Hong Kong Chan fare – five superior action sequences with a lot of failed comedy and mindless drivel padding out the running length. Most of the expository and character-building scenes fall into one of three categories: (1) inane, (2) incomprehensible, or (3) dull. The tone is also wildly inconsistent. Some sequences are laced with slapstick comedy while others are acutely uncomfortable as a result of torture and the nearly-abusive disciplining of a grown child by a parent. (Differences in culture make the latter seem more incongruous to American viewers than to Chinese movie-goers.) So it's up to the action to redeem the film – a feat it succeeds at, at least to a point."
Drunken Master II was a notable success in Hong Kong, grossing an all-time record of HK$40,971,484 (US$5.302 million) during its theatrical run. The success was somewhat surprising, considering reports of tension on the set between Chan and Lau Kar Leung, and that the 90s vogue for kung fu films had more or less passed.
By January 1995, the film grossed US$17.3 million from five other East Asian territories. It grossed CN¥10 million in China, and NT$39,889,970 in Taiwan, where it was one of the year's top ten highest-grossing films. The film also grossed ¥726 million in Japan, and US$5.45 million in South Korea, where it was the year's highest-grossing film.
Six years later, Drunken Master II was released in 1,345 North American theaters as The Legend of Drunken Master By Dimension Films. This re-edited version made US$3,845,278 ($2,865 per screen) in its opening weekend, on its way to a US$11,555,430 total in the United States and Canada. In France, the film drew 28,681 box office admissions in 2000, equivalent to approximately US$154,591. Combined, the film's total worldwide gross revenue was approximately US$34.31 million, equivalent to US$75 million adjusted for inflation in 2018.
Awards and nominations
|Awards and nominations|
|14th Hong Kong Film Awards||Best Action Choreography||Lau Kar-leung, Jackie Chan Stunt Team||Won|
|Best Film Editing||Peter Cheung||Nominated|
|31st Golden Horse Awards||Best Action Choreography||Lau Kar-leung, Jackie Chan Stunt Team||Won|
|2nd Fant-Asia Film Festival||Best Asian Film||Drunken Master II||Won|
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