Regarded by many people to contain the pinnacle of Chan's physical powers (at the late age of 40 in his life),DRUNKEN MASTER II was belatedly released in the US six years after it was made, after Chan had become a star over there. This much we know. But what of the film? Overall, the story and characters stand somewhere in about the middle of Chan's filmography. The first half of the film harks back to his earlier action-comedy days like the original DRUNKEN MASTER, except with a much higher budget so everything looks like it did in PROJECT A PART II now. The script offers a few choice gags but it's very much par for the course. Even the action is fairly straightforward, and of the cast only martial arts veteran Ti Lung makes anything of an impact as Jackie's straight-laced dad with Anita Mui in support as his stepmother.
At around the hour mark we get the first signs of greatness with the arrival of the "axe gang", hundreds of hoods who attempt to destroy our hero in a tavern. The action is fast and furious with Jackie using tables and bamboo canes to fight off numerous attackers, whilst director Chia-Liang Liu also gets in on the action! However, this does not prepare us for the finale of the movie, a twenty-minute battle in a steelworks factory. Hands down, the finale of this film contains the best action Chan has ever put on screen. He is nimble, funny, and does some great stunts with props and fire, so that everything looks dangerous. The fights are hard-hitting, and super-kicker Ken Lo is incredible as his chief opponent who comes out of nowhere to fight to the finish. A brilliant and protracted martial arts fight plays out, impeccably choreographed and definitely the best of Jackie's long career in terms of style, excitement, and pure incredible adrenaline-pumping superhuman manoeuvres. The ending alone makes this classic material and a strong contender for Jackie's best ever movie.
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In turbulent China before World War I, the collapse of the Manchu Dynasty fuels violent uprisings and political chaos - the perfect setting for a grand-scale smuggling ring led by an unscrupulous British consul. When the ring plots to steal China's crown jewels, only one man - legendary 'Drunken Fist' master Huang Fei-hung (Chan) - possesses the courage and ferocity to stop the ruthless gang.
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