Drunken Master II (1994)
Director - Liu Chia Liang
DVD Released by : Thakral
Player reviewed with : Sony S3000
Receiver reviewed with : Sony 925
Running Time : 102 mins.
DRUNKEN MASTER II is considered by many to be Jackie Chan's best film. It is the story of a teenaged Wong Fei Hung and how his attempt at avoiding the tax on some ginseng gets him involved in thwarting a plot to smuggle treasures from China. The movie is an almost equal blend of comedy and action. Ti Lung portrays Jackie's father and is the most serious of all the characters, forbidding Jackie to practice Drunken Boxing for fear of him becoming a drunk. Jackie's mother (Anita Mui), is quite the opposite. When Jackie retrieves her stolen purse, she quickly finds some wine so he can show off his talents. It is these talents that help Jackie stick up for the local steelworkers in one of the many classic moments of this film.

The movie is also known as "The Legend of Drunken Master" and has been released dubbed in English and cut for the American audience by Buena Vista. The last scene is cut out of the movie but as it is part of the ORIGINAL movie, it should be there. Because of these reasons, the THAKRAL version of DRUNKEN MASTER 2 really peaked my interest.

One thing that should be mentioned is that the aspect ratio is off a bit. Even though the original aspect ratio is 2.35:1, this DVD is presented in a 1.85:1 ratio. If you have the laser disc, you will notice this DVD appears to be zoomed in on the sides. You are definitely losing some of the image.

The print itself has it's share of specks and looks older than it really is. The transfer itself isn't too bad. I didn't notice any artifacts and the dark scenes looked good without the picture breaking up. The picture is definitely watchable. I would have preferred the correct aspect ratio. I will try to get some screenshots displaying the difference.

I watched the movie in Cantonese. The sound comes from the front speakers and is mixed pretty well. The track itself could be a little cleaner but overall it is decent. A Mandarin soundtrack is also available.

The subtitles are white and easy to read. They contain some spelling errors but they aren't too distracting.

The extras consist of three trailers that play when you insert the dvd. These are for FUTURE COPS, BIG BULLET and THUNDERBOLT.

DRUNKEN MASTER II is a classic, plain and simple. This is one of Jackie Chan's greatest achievements. He looks right in the camera and hams it up every step of the way. And only he can. It's like watching a master piano player playing a bunch of frilly notes and giving you a wink. He knows he's good and all you can do is watch and enjoy it.

The movie is a definite recommendation but how about the DVD? Normally a DVD were the aspect ratio is off would be a definite thing to avoid. The problem is, unless you own the laser disc, the only other choice you will have is the English dubbed and cut Buena Vista version. The Buena Vista version will most likely look great but it does not have the very last scene and it lacks the original soundtrack. The Thakral DVD is not perfect but personally I am taking this one over the Buena Vista version. I saw the Buena Vista version in the theater and I didn't care for the English dubbing.