Also known as Drunken Master II, this Jackie Chan martial arts spectacle film is exciting, beautifully choreographed and filmed, but drags when the story tries to becomes the center of attention.
Drunken Master II is lauded as one of Jackie Chan’s best movies, and its easy to see why. With all the impressive, sometimes dangerous stunts he performs in the film Jackie Chan shows off his mastery of stunt choreography flawlessly. From rolling out from under flaming barrels at the last second, to fighting off 100 men at once, the action is exciting and perfectly executed. And as far as I’m concerned, the action is the main character, its like your favorite actor walking into frame whenever a fight breaks out, it never fails to excite you.
I really love the Axe Gang fight scene where Jackie and his mentor fight off 100+ men with chairs, bamboo poles, and other random objects they find in the bar they’re besieged at. And the final battle is soooo well executed, especially when Jackie clambers over actual, real life hot coals. I mean come on, who is actually insane enough to do that other than Jackie Chan? Nobody, and it pays off too because its just looks dope as hell. I can’t really say much else about the fights and stunts featured in this film other than they are cool as hell, and you really do have to see them for yourself. I can say quite a bit about the story though. Before that I just want to say, the story is not why anyone ever has or ever will watch this movie, it is just there to tie together dope as hell fight scenes. So take what I say about the story with a grain of salt, knowing that it is not the focus of this movie.
It sadly feels like while this movie’s heart is in its fight scenes, the meat of the movie’s 102 minute runtime is actually its cheesy, very 80’s B movie-esque story. The basic plot is that some Englishmen buy an ancient Chinese seal, which Jackie Chan’s character accidentally steals at the start of the film. They find out he has it and pursue him relentlessly for it. They do take it back, but by this point Jackie’s character has learned the importance of the object and wants to get it back to preserve Chinese history.
This story is honestly really weird and distracting to me, and it comes off as a little racist or at least culture-ist, at times even. The sentiment is, in order to honor Chinese history they must keep this ancient seal because if they don’t they are allowing people to steal their history one piece at a time. This is text-book slippery slope fallacy, the whole “if they take this one seal, where will it stop? Next they’ll take the whole country!” is just wrong and frankly toxic. I think someone even says almost that exact sentence about “where will it stop?” by the way.
Obviously this is absurd since the Englishmen just wanted it for a museum back in England, and they even offered to sell it back to Jackie and friends at one point. Add to this ridiculousness that the whole point of museums is to honor history and I just don’t see how a reasonable person rationalizes that buying something, to put in a museum, is somehow evil. It really just feels like Chinese propaganda honestly, especially since the rest of the film is so lighthearted, fun, and exciting compared to this kinda serious message about Chinese heritage.
Again though, the story is really not what this movie is about, its about the great action, brutal fights, crazy stunts, and silly gags. While I would never recommend to skip parts of a movie… if you maybe did some dishes or laundry between fight scenes, I don’t think I could blame you. I would really love to see a cut down version of this movie that removes 90% of the story stuff because the rest of the movie is so fun it’s sad its bogged down by the weird story.
Overall I think this movie is worth a watch and I could even see enjoying it more on subsequent watches where I wouldn’t feel bad skipping from one fight scene to another.