Drunken Master
HONG KONG LEGENDS
 
Starring:
Directed By:
Yuen Woo-Ping
Year:
1978
Run Time:
99mins
Producer: Hong Kong Legends
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Languages:
Mandarin Mono, English Mono
Subtitles:
Removable English
W/S Subtitles:
Yes
Ratio:
CROPPED 1.85:1 Anamorphic
Region:
PAL 0
Genre:
Traditional Kung-Fu - 15 (UK)
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MOVIE
10/10

Now, I'm not one to hold grudges (for too long), so, pushing aside the disappointment of their previous release, I sat down to watch Hong Kong Legend's Drunken Master.

Well, where do I start...? Seeing as just about everyone has seen this in some form or another, I'll skip the plot and just say that if you haven't seen this then you're missing out on a milestone of H.K. cinema, and one of Jackie's best movies.
Unfortunately, my gushing praise for the film doesn't transfer to the DVD...

PICTURE
4/10

I'll begin by providing some basic facts about the print:
The original aspect ratio is 2.35:1 and its correct soundtrack is Cantonese. So, with this in mind, Hong Kong Legends released the film as such?....well, no. Read on to find out what's changed.

As I said, 2.35:1 is the original ratio, so with all their vast knowledge HKL decided to crop the print to 1.85:1. This not only cuts off fingers, faces and bodies in a number of scenes, but also makes the framing of the majority of the scenes feel very "tight". Ah, but that's not the best bit...as the film begins, it is presented in 1.85, then shrinks to 2.35, then expands to 1.85, then 2.35 and finally 1.85 again - all within the first 10 minutes!
From this point on it stays 1.85, until the film finishes.
This only highlights the lack of respect HKL has for its releases, which is strange, seeing as they obviously worked extensively cleaning up the print. The detail as a whole is good, as are the colours, although the film suffers from a hazy graininess throughout, due to poor film preservation.

SOUND
3/10

The sound selection offers English, Mandarin and...no Cantonese track!?!
The majority of the characters, including Jackie's, are speaking Cantonese, so the lack of this language is incredibly strange.
Also, the hokey, but enjoyable, original English track has been replaced with what I can only describe as the most atrocious dubbing I've ever had the misfortune to hear. Everyone has been re-dubbed, including Chan's character, who comes across as an effeminate, upper-class Englishman attempting to put on a Chinese accent.
Trust me, you'll never be able to watch the film listening to this track - it's THAT bad.
Whilst obviously not matching the majority of the actors mouth-movements, the Mandarin track is the best of the two - clear and containing little distortion.

SUBTITLES
4/10

Grammatically correct, the subs are clear and generally good. However, two things stick out:
First, Jackie's character - Wong Fei Hung - is translated as "Freddy Wong", his Father - Wong Kei Ying - as "Robert Wong", and his Uncle - Beggar So - as "Beggar Su". These are the names used in the English dub, but if you're watching with the subtitles On, it's unlikely you'll be listening to the English track as well.
Second, one of the most famous pieces of dialogue spoken by Fei Hung - "Each horse one rider, each Temple one Buddha, each Master to his own technique" is translated to "You think you're the only Master here? Well, my drunken gods don't mess around. Nobody can fight like them"!!! This is an exact translation of the English track, and as far as I can tell, the subtitles are a copy of the English rather than the Mandarin dialogue.
Because of this, the correct dialogue has been "dumbed down" for the subtitles.

EXTRAS
8/10

HK Legends have done a very good job with their extras - Original English Trailer (ratio of 2.35:1), a "Music Promo" (clips from the film set to a very nice orchestral score), a photo gallery of 12 pictures (captured from the disc), Yuen Woo Ping and Jackie Chan bios. and filmographies, an interview with Ng See Yuen (same as the one used for the Snake In The Eagles Shadow DVD), deleted footage of Jackie performing a Drunken God set holding a jar of wine, a Wang Jang Lee "Kicking Showcase" (just a snippet from the ending of Hells Wind Staff"), and an upcoming releases section.

CONCLUSION
3/10

Without a doubt, this is one of the worst DVD's I've seen - English or Chinese. The lack of respect shown to this film, as with Snake In The Eagles Shadow DVD, is disgraceful.
What's even worse is the feeling of having your nose rubbed in it when you watch the trailer. In including the English trailer, HKL shows two of things - how much better the film looks in its original 2.35 aspect ratio, and their idiocy in cropping it to 1.85.

I was disappointed enough with Snake in The Eagles Shadow, but after viewing this release, I see HKL has reached new depths.
I find it amazing that a company who put so much work into restoring a film, then, according to their basic philosophy, butcher it for the purpose of increasing sales.
All the more worrying is the information given for the future releases of Black Sheep Affair, Dragon Inn - they'll all come with Mandarin and English, but not Cantonese, soundtracks. Who knows whether these will be left uncropped, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

Like Snake In The Eagles Shadow before it, this is an excellent film given an awful presentation, and is only worth a rental, at best.
Before viewing this DVD, I was waiting for Universe, Mega Star or Mei-Ah to give it a well deserved release - after watching this disc, I'm STILL waiting...

MOVIE 10/10
PICTURE
4/10
SOUND
3/10
SUBTITLES
4/10
EXTRAS
8/10
MENUS
8/10
PACKAGING
7/10
OVERALL
3/10