The Legend of Drunken Master ★★★★

Chekhov's gun:
Highly concentrated alcohol.
Frames of fury
And broken jaws.
Binge kung fu.

Chan is often cited in relation to the silent comics, but here he's closer to Jerry Lewis and the better for it. While the "plot" material can be somewhat of a chore (highly potent alcohol in a scene completely outside of any of the major characters? Doubt that’ll come back!), it's more of a set piece film (both for comic sequence and action sequences). Chan's frames are chaotic in ways I don't even know how he planned, in which there's always a center of the frame (he's very good at using crossing movement to keep our eyes in the right place), but with four or five things happening in the negative space as well (the big house battle in the center of the film best demonstrates this principle—just watch any corner of the frame to see something happening). The comedy is just as golden, with Anita Mui stealing the show scene after scene (that unhinged jaw bit is a laugh riot). Chan knows how to create something that simply stuns you—the final scene is not only some of the best fight choreography I can imagine, but by giving us those ridiculously wacky facial expressions, he had me howling with laughter too. Now having seen what he was doing with the Police Story sequels, you can feel he was probably trying to return to roots with this sequel, and with good effect. Thank goodness I was able to see this in an original cut.

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