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A classic re-born in blu!
on 25 April 2017
Well it's not too often that I'm blown away by a Blu-ray release, but it usually comes when something you know and love so well is meticulously restored. And Eureka have done an utterly sublime job with this brand new restored edition of Drunken Master.
I actually came to Drunken Master quite late on, preferring Jackie Chan's 80s output (Wheels on Meals, Armour of God, Police Story, etc) over his more traditional Kung Fu movies, but when I finally got round to Drunken Master, I was an instant fan of it's comedic style and phenomenal fight choreography. Since then, I've owned it in many formats from video, to the Hong Kong legends and Mei Ah DVD releases, but they've all suffered problems in their own ways. The film has been incorrectly cropped, suffered bad picture quality, an incomplete Cantonese soundtrack (reverting to English in spots) and notorious "dubtitles" for the original language track (meaning you're basically getting the English dub to screen, rather than an actual translation of the original language, which I find infuriating). So until now, it's always the best of a bad bunch for Drunken Master, but I'm glad to say that Eureka have made this a thing of the past.
Presented in it's original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1 and having undergone a 4k restoration, Eureka's release looks phenomenal. The detail, clarity, and faithful colour presentation make it hard to believe you're watching a 39 year old film. And it's about as authentic as it gets, no recourse to horrible DNR or any other of those more illusory mastering techniques. The quality of the restoration alone would be enough to make this worth every penny, but what you also have here for the first time ever is not only the FULL Cantonese soundtrack in lossless LPCM mono, but also both lossless English and Mandarin dubs. The Mandarin dub is the same as the Mei Ah release (with a few missing sections reverting to English) but is a really nice inclusion. The full Cantonese soundtrack is brilliantly clear, and authentic, and packs a surprisingly big punch despite the simplicity of its design. And in a truly fantastic attention to detail, Eureka have even provided proper subtitled translations of both the Cantonese and Mandarin versions, with subtitles for the hard of hearing too.
To top all that off, there's a whole host of extras, including an absolutely brilliant and insightful audio commentary by film experts and authors Ric Myers and Jeff Yang (co-author of "I am Jackie Chan - My life in action") as well as deleted scenes, an appreciation by Gareth Evans (The Raid), interviews, and a whole load more including a really nice specially commission booklet essay.
Also, for any American and Canadian fans, I can confirm that I was able to play this on my region modded Blu-ray player when switched to "Region A" so this would appear to be region A and B compatible.
So in short, this not only the greatest version of Drunken Master I've seen, it's also the finest release of any Jackie Chan film I've seen too. Whilst I appreciate Drunken Master is arguably one of the most important films in Chinese cinema history, and well deserving of it's "Masters of Cinema" tag, I secretly hope that Eureka are able to bring us more Jackie Chan in the future. If they are to this standard, then that's a very exciting prospect indeed.