- Video Codec: VC-1
- Resolution: 1080p/24
- Audio Codec: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby 2.0
- Subtitles: English, English SDH, Czech, French, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish
- Region: ABC
- Discs: 1
- Rating: R
- Studio: Miramax
- Blu-ray Disc Release Date: September 15, 2009
- List Price: $39.99
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It really is disappointing when the current paragon for film collectors and home theater enthusiasts, Blu-ray, fails to provide a film in its very best, truest form. That is exactly what we have here with The Legend of Drunken Master. Miramax has chosen to provide this 1994 Jackie Chan international martial arts hit with no more than its terrible English dub as the featured audio presentation, along with French and Spanish audio dubs — no original Chinese language tracks.
This choice by Miramax is a detrimental one to The Legend of Drunken Master. The already razor thin and chaotic plot becomes even harder to follow, and the comedic elements are all but lost in translation in this now Westernized yarn. Let me see if I can piece it back together ever so briefly. There’s an herbalist, that’s Jackie Chan, who specializes in the style of martial arts known as drunken fighting. Getting drunk makes him even more effective. He somehow gets his ginseng switched with a jade emperor’s stamp that some mean British types are after, along with their Chinese underlings. Chan must keep them at bay, whilst saving his father’s martial arts school and protecting the local steel mill from the oppressive British tycoons as well — or something like that.
But, the point of Drunken Master is certainly not the plot, as anyone can see, it’s the acrobatic stunts. Drunken Master succeeds on every level in that category. The Drunken-style stunts of a younger Chan in The Legend of Drunken Master are unbelievable. It is not difficult to see why this film was the start of Jackie Chan’s international success as a film star. If only they would make this film available in its original form on Blu-ray with some beefed up supplemental materials, then it would really be an item well worth owning.
I don’t know that The Legend of Drunken Master can ever look great given its production values, but Miramax has done a decent job with the transfer to Blu-ray Disc. The 1080p VC-1 encoding looks clean, with natural flesh tones and close-up shots are quite detailed. Apart from that, colors are a bit flat, overall detail is soft, and black levels are a little inconsistent.
The audio soundtrack for Drunken Master seems to have been done with very little care on this disc. Not only does the menu system incorrectly list the main soundtrack as English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 when it is in fact DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, but there is no original language track provided at all. The only thing we get is a terrible dubbed English lossless version, a dubbed French Dolby Digital 5.1 version and a dubbed Spanish 2.0 version.
The English track is inconsistent to say the least. There are long, dialogue-heavy passages interrupted by sudden discrete sound effects thrown into the surround channels or off to the sides. At least the dubbed English dialogue is clean and well balanced in the mix.
This release is barebones, with no more than a brief interview segment with Jackie Chan entitled, Behind the Master: An Interview with Jackie Chan (1.33:1; 480i/60; 0:06.37), serving as its sole supplement.
The Definitive Word
While The Legend of Drunken Master may be one of the top martial arts films amongst fans of the genre, this is not the version of it that scores so highly. So, although this Blu-ray release from Miramax looks well enough, the fact that it completely leaves off any original language track means that I have to recommend to most people to either skip it entirely or just rent it to catch a glimpse of a young Jackie Chan.