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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

Drunken Master aka "Zui quan" [Blu-ray]

 

(Yuen Woo-ping, 1978)

 

More Shaw Brothers-Martial Arts-Wushu or related films on Blu-ray reviewed (click review buttons to also see comparisons where applicable):

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Seasonal Film Corporation

Video: Eureka - Masters of Cinema - Spine #166

 

Disc:

Region: 'B'-locked (as verified by the Oppo Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 1:51:12.123 

Disc Size: 49,557,438,851 bytes

Feature Size: 36,961,908,096 bytes

Video Bitrate: 35.10 Mbps

Chapters: 12

Case: Transparent Blu-ray case

Release date: April 24th, 2017

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 2.39:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

LPCM Audio Cantonese 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
LPCM Audio Mandarin 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
DUB:

LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
Commentary:

Dolby Digital Audio English 192 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 192 kbps

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), none

 

Extras:

• Audio commentary by Hong Kong film experts Ric Meyers and Jeff Yang
Video interview with Jackie Chan (21:08)
New video interview with film scholar Tony Rayns (41:36)
New video appreciation by director Gareth Evans (The Raid film series) - 21:24

Interview with Ng See-Yeun (14:04)
Deleted scene (1:48)
Original trailer (4:27)

UK Music promo (1:29)

Kicking Showcasae (1:34)
PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by Michael Brooke and archival imagery
.

DVD included

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: Kung-Fu Classic starring the undisputed Godfather of Martial Arts Action-Comedy Jackie Chan in a no-holds-barred fight fest like none other!

Hong Kong action pioneer Yuen Woo-ping (The Matrix; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and martial arts superstar Jackie Chan burst onto the scene in 1978 with a one-two punch of kung fu masterpieces, and it was the second of these, Drunken Master, with its Keatonesque slapstick and flawlessly choreographed fight scenes that would leave the biggest impact.

Jackie Chan plays Wong Fei-hung (a legendary Chinese folk hero who has also been portrayed on screen by Jet Li, Gordon Liu and Donnie Yen amongst many others), who is punished for his frequent troublemaking by being forced to study under the martial arts master Su Hua Chi (Yuen Siu-tien), notorious for his drinking as much as he is for leaving his students crippled. Wong proves himself an adept pupil, but his new skills are soon put to the test when his own father is targeted by a brutal assassin (Hwang Jang Lee, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow).

Frequently ranked as one of the greatest martial arts films of all time, Drunken Master revolutionised modern action cinema, and the Masters of Cinema Series is proud to present the film on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK in a new Dual-Format edition.

 

 

The Film:

Unable to see eye to eye with his father, completely broke and with nowhere else to turn, young Wong Fei-Hung (Jackie Chan) grudgingly accepts the tutelage of Su Hua Chi (Siu Tien Yuen), a notoriously intoxicated martial arts master. Su Hua Chi teaches Wong the techniques of Drunken Boxing, an unusually fluid fighting style. Wong is then forced to put his new skills to the test when his father is targeted by deadly assassin Thunderleg (Jang Lee Hwang), who has never lost a fight.

Excerpt from MRQE located HERE

As directed by Yuen Woo Ping, Drunken Master is basically one long fight sequence, occasionally interrupted by the picture's torturous training set pieces. The chemistry between Chan and legendary Peking Opera actor Simon Yuen, playing his newfound master, continues the charming rapport they shared in their previous hit Snake in the Eagle's Shadow (and, to a far lesser extent, in Chan's first starring vehicle, 1971's mediocre Little Tiger of Canton) and provides one of the most memorable and imitated master/student relationships in the genre. Yuen Woo Ping's direction is wildly energetic, and his fight choreography -- strongly assisted by Jackie, no doubt -- is nothing less than groundbreaking, shamelessly mixing slapstick from crude to clever, along with traditional martial arts stances and acrobatics. He deftly fills his Cinemascope frame with brilliant movement.

Excerpt from AustinChronicle located HERE

 

Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.

Drunken Master comes to Blu-ray from The Masters of Cinema group in the UK and is cited as a "Definitive transfer from 4K digital restoration". The image quality has a few inconsistencies - more noticeable in the first 10-minutes but any imperfections look to be totally from the source and may, actually, be an authentic part of the finished 1978 production. We can't know. Colors look strong (garment blues and maroons) and detail is at a high level showing depth and tight lines. Contrast is layered well and adds dimension to the visuals. I don't doubt this image quality is the best the film has ever seen on digital. The 1080P produces a highly pleasing presentation that delivers the film's impressive fight choreography that augments the film experience. Top marks. 

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

1) English Subtitles for Cantonese - TOP  

2) English / Hong Kong Theatrical subtitles MIDDLE

3) English (SDH) for English DUB - Blu-ray - BOTTOM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

Masters of Cinema include the original, complete, Cantonese soundtrack, rarely heard on home video, plus alternate English and Mandarin audio options. It should be noted that the Mandarin soundtrack was originally created for a shorter version of the film, so additional footage is presented in English (when the Mandarin option is selected), including the opening scene. The Blu-ray offers different English subtitle options; for the Cantonese, Mandarin, 'Hong Kong Theatrical' and English (SDH) subtitles for the English DUB (3 samples above.) Each of the audio options are transferred via linear PCM 1.0 channel mono (24-bit) and hence sound authentically flat but carry some surprising depth in the numerous fight effects. It sounds fairly clean and tight without major flaws. The enthusiastic score by Fu Liang Chou (7 Grandmasters) seems typical for the genre with varied elements for the moods of humor or serious conflict. It, likewise, benefits from the uncompressed rendering. My Oppo has identified the disc as being a region 'B'-locked.

 

 

 

Extras :

Masters of Cinema have stacked the package with extras staring with an audio commentary, originally from 2002, by Hong Kong film experts Ric Meyers and Jeff Yang - co-author of I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action. These guys know their stuff and there is plenty of discussion on the film, genre, Chan's career and the extensive fight sequences. Immense value in this commentary for fans. There is also a 21-minute video interview with Jackie Chan who discusses the film's lengthy popularity. He is his usual humble self. I thoroughly enjoyed the new 40-minute video interview with film scholar Tony Rayns who goes into great detail, plus there is a new 21-minute video appreciation by director Gareth Evans (The Raid film series) which was an interesting bonus. There is a piece with producer Ng See-Yeun for 1/2 of an hour, a brief deleted scene, the original trailer, UK Music promo and a 'Kicking Showcase' combining some of the film's plentiful action. Included is a booklet featuring an excellent new essay by Michael Brooke with archival imagery, and, being dual-format, a second disc DVD is added.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
Drunken Master is a part of an era of human-generated effects, not relaying on computer enhanced features, and is a showcase for Chan's incredible athleticism, work ethic and preparation. One can't help but marvel at the effort put into this production and, thankfully, the story is worthy of the production diligence. This is old-school martial arts fun and an important vehicle for the star's worldwide international successes that would follow. I had so much pleasure seeing Drunken Master and I think it's a brilliant choice for MoC to release on Blu-ray. I hope more of this ilk are coming. The supplements with extensive booklet, commentary etc. add great value and make this a highly valued purchase. Very strongly recommended! 

Gary Tooze

April 16th, 2017

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.

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Gary W. Tooze

 

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