Drunken Master II (Warner Archive) Blu-ray Review


One of Jackie Chan's best films gets a brand new blu-ray from Warner Archive. Is it worth it or does it do more damage to the film's legacy than the last blu-ray?

Studio: Warner Archive
Release Date: February 3rd, 1994 (theatrical)
                           May 18th, 2021 (blu-ray)
Run Time: 1 hour 42 minutes 8 seconds
Region Code: FREE
Picture: 1080p (2.40:1 aspect ratio)
Sound: Cantonese DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
               Mandarin DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
               English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0
Subtitles: English 
                   English SDH
Slipcover: No
Digital Copy: No
Starring: Jackie Chan, Anita Mui, Ti Lung, Felix Wong, Lau Kar-Leung, and Ken Lo
Written by Edward Tang, Man-Ming Tong, and Yun Kai-Chi
Directed by Lau Kar-Leung
Rating: Not Rated (martial arts violence)

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Poster



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What's It About?

n 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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Film Review

Back during THE VIDEO STORE DAYS, there was a company called Tai Seng. They specialized in bringing Hong Kong made films to the States. Most of their releases were the exact releases from Hong Kong just with their name on the VHS cover and label, but they also did their own releases. When I got into Jackie Chan movies in the mid-90's, I sought out whatever film I could get my hands on and DRUNKEN MASTER II was one of them. I remember getting this film for Christmas one year and watching it that night. I was amazed by the sheer physicality on display. The film is a culmination of everything that Jackie Chan had made before it. The stunts, the fights, everything seemed to be what Chan was working towards all those years. The film is funny and exciting and just a blast to watch. The one thing that stood out to me back then, and still does to this day, is Anita Mui. She is the best non-fight scene thing about this film. She is truly on fire in this film. She is the heart and soul of the film as well as the funniest thing in it. Her delivery is rapid-fire and she never misses a joke. We lost Mui in 2003 to cancer and her presence is truly missed and every once in a while I wonder what she would be doing if she were still around. I would hope that she would still be making movies. 

Note: This is the uncut version of the film, which hasn't seen an official release since the Tai Seng days. This version contains the film's final shot where we see the effects from all the industrial alcohol that Chan drinks during the climax of the film. This shot was deemed offensive and left out of the Dimension Pictures release of the film. 

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Video/Audio

I have had the pleasure of seeing DRUNKEN MASTER II on the big screen twice: once when it was released theatrically by Dimension Pictures in 2000 and another a few years ago. The transfer used here looks a lot like the print I saw a few years ago and, from what I can remember, like the 2000 version. This is a good transfer for the most part. There is a film-like feel here with colors and skin tones looking pretty good. There does appear to be some DNR applied to the picture, but it is uneven with it being used in some shots and scenes, but then not used in others. It is really weird to go from a shot that doesn't have it applied to a shot that does and then back again. For the most part, the DNR is unobtrusive, but it does rear its ugly head every so often. This is by no means a perfect transfer, but it is a pretty good one. Had Warner Archive laid off of the DNR and we would have had a damn near-perfect transfer. 

The audio comes in three different flavors: Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. The English dub is not the one Dimension Pictures had done for their release, so there is no Jackie Chan heard here. The dub was done for the international release and it gets the job done. It doesn't have the life that the Dimension one has, but it isn't bad either. The Mandarin and Cantonese dubs are well done and sound great.

There are English subtitles taken from the original theatrical print including typos and whatnot, a "dubtitles" track, and a track that translates onscreen text that is automatically selected when watching the English dub.

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Extras/Packaging

Trailer (2m 26s, HD, 2.40:1) 

Arriving in a non-eco-friendly, single disc blu-ray case, DRUNKEN MASTER II features artwork that was taken from the film's original poster art. The disc features the same artwork.

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Overall

Fans have been waiting a long time for Warner Brothers to finally release DRUNKEN MASTER II on blu-ray in its uncut form with its original language track. Was it worth the wait? Yes, but with a few reservations. The transfer could have not been tinkered with and the subtitles could have been done better, and we could have gotten some actual special features. What we have is a really good release that should have been so much better. This is the best the film has ever looked on home video. If you are on the fence, go ahead and buy it. 
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Extras

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Film

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Packaging


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