Now, I'm sure anyone out there who has watched any kung-fu movies at all is familiar with Drunken Master. It's a Jackie Chan classic and features one of the most beloved styles of all time, drunken boxing. Who doesn't like the idea that one can become an invincible fighter through excessive drinking? This theory is put to the test each night in bars across the world. Thankfully, Jackie Chan has more success than your average intoxicated redneck. The movie is filled with the incredibly choreographed fights and comedy elements for which any Jackie Chan movie is renowned. As I'm sure you've all heard before, he's always done his own stunts, which isn't all that impressive of a boast back in the day when no Hong Kong director was going to pay good money for a stunt man and expected his actors to earn their keep. That he kept it up even upon moving over to doing films in the US, where pampered actors can get stunt doubles to avoid getting a chill, is a little more impressive.
The only sad part about watching these sort of movies is that so many of them are dubbed rather than subbed. Now, I'll be the first to admit there's a certain comedic and entertaining quality to kung-fu dubs. For some reason, half the cast is always British which I find ecspecially amusing. I've never actually researched it but it seems that there's this one British guy who has a voice role in just about every single Kung-fu dub I've ever seen in my life. Either that or he has a lot of similar sounding brothers and together they dominate the industry. While the dubs are sometimes fun, I feel they often mangle the meaning of the actual dialogue. This is true even in cases where the actors are speaking in Cantonese and I don't understand a word. You still get a lot out of hearing the original delivery of the lines through tone and intonation that you lose in a dub. Unfortunately, it seems that most Americans have no interest in having to 'read' a movie and so the majority of the kung-fu films out there are dub only.
While I can probably get critics and mundanes alike to agree with me that Drunken Master is a keeper, I'd have a harder time assembling a fan base for Best of the Best. For some reason, this movie was often panned by critics and the sequels were reviled. Personally, it's one of my favorites and I love at least the first sequel to the film. It's one of those great movies that I still remember coming across on tv some saturday or sunday afternoon as a kid and I've always felt like it's a grown up version of The Karate Kid. The number of parallels with both Drunken Master and Best of the Best with a movie like The Karate Kid is legion. We have scrappy underdogs who are faced with a superior foe and must defeat them with martial arts. There's always a training montage somewhere in the middle and then a climactic final battle or tournament where our heroes prove their worth and overcome. It's a classic and I just love that sort of thing to death. In fact, just writing about it now makes me want to watch a Karate Kid marathon next, though I'll of course skip the one with the girl. All these years later I still don't know what the fuck those morons were thinking casting a chick in the lead role in that movie. To this day, I can't think of a case where the stench of cooties is more overwhelming and franchise killing than that abortion of a movie.
Actually, now that I think about it, I recall that they also just remade The Karate Kid a few years ago and I never got around to seeing it. The trailers made it look absolutely ridiculous and so I had written it off, though it did feature Jackie Chan in the Mr. Miyagi role. Ah, Pat Morita. At least you aren't alive to have seen something like this come to pass. Still, the reviews seem to be generally positive now that I look at it which I guess should mean that it didn't suck out loud. Maybe I will give it a whirl after I finish with Best of the Best II.