8:00 PM, 5th May, 2001
From his underrated 1996 masterpiece, The Ice Storm, to his earlier Taiwanese Oscar nominee, The Wedding Banquet, Lee's prevalent theme appears to be children coming of age by disregarding the wishes of their parents. In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Zhang Zi Yi plays Jen, a girl torn between her upcoming arranged marriage and her yearning to be free. The movie opens with the Green Destiny, a powerful antique sword, being delivered to the village. The sword is then stolen and ends up in the wrong hands rather quickly. Based upon a famous early 20th-century novel, this movie is a tragedy, a martial-arts movie, a love story, a coming-of-age story, a sweeping epic, and a story about the perils of freedom. Excellent martial-arts scenes. It is subtle but fulfilling on all levels.
10:10 PM, 5th May, 2001
Wong Fei Hung was a real person, born in Canton in 1847. A martial-arts master and all-round good guy, he eventually became a Robin Hood-style folk hero. A century and a half later he is also the subject of many full-length motion pictures, examples constitute the Once Upon a Time in China series starring Jet Li.
This is all very interesting, but the most important thing about Drunken Master II is that the young Wong Fei Hung is played by Jackie Chan. Now, if you're a Jackie aficionado, you'll have penned this date into your diary without bothering to read a review. For the rest of you, I guess I'll have to go through the motions. There are some wicked foreigners engaged in general evil-doing. Our hero gets involved when he gets into a remarkable brawl on, in, around, and under a train. In the confusion, the package of herbs he is taking to his father becomes mixed up with some important thingummy. The humour (the least consistent element in Chan's films) is in top form. The action sequences, especially the trademark "Drunken" routines, are fantastic, with Chan's acrobatic skills pushed to the limit. Drunken Master II is one of the best there are.