Blu-ray Review: Snake in the Eagle's Shadow / Drunken Master - Twilight Time Limited Edition

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Part of the June 2017 batch of exclusive limited edition Blu-ray titles from Twilight Time, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow / Drunken Master arrives strictly limited to 3,000 units. The boutique label has unleashed another typically eclectic selection, with this pair of 1978 Hong Kong-produced Jackie Chan movies leading the pack as the most fun. And really you just have to love the value inherent in a double-feature release. Here we have director Yuen Woo-ping's Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, originally released in March '78, and Drunken Master, originally released in October '78.

Those who enjoy Chan's U.S. productions will certainly find much to love in these earlier, but still comedic, kung fu adventures (long before Chan was a well-known U.S. star)—each loaded, of course, with Chan's patented self-performed stunt work. Eagle's Shadow finds Chien Fu (Chan) as a put-upon janitor at a kung fu school. When he's secretly trained by martial arts master Pai Chang-tien (Yuen Siu-tien), Chien is at last capable of warding off his tormentors. Complications ensue when Pai, in hiding and on-the-run from a hiding gang, is outed as Chien's secret instructor. 
rsz_snakeeaglesshadowdrunkenmaster_bdbooklet.png Drunken Master allows Chan to play a different kind of character, as his Wong Fei-hung is something of a bully himself. Rebellious and rambunctious, Wong's father (Lam Kau) aims to teach his son some discipline. Beggar So (Yuen Siu-tien) is tasked with training Wong and reining him in. This leads to more rebellion on Wong's part, as he wants no part of rigorous training. But Yim Tit-sam (Hwang Jang Lee), master of the lethal "Devil's Kick," has other plans for Wong.

The wonderfully orchestrated kung fu battle sequences are, of course, the crowd-pleasing highlights of both films. Those who grew up watching this type of fare on late-night cable presentations like Kung Fu Theatre will be stunned by the visual clarity of these films on Twilight Time's Blu-ray. There are also three lossless audio options: DTS-HD MA Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. (In Drunken Master some sections of missing audio leave gaps in the Chinese tracks, which default to the English dubbed track to avoid 'dead air.')

Bonus features: Twilight Time's hallmark isolated music track (and in this case, effects too) showcases composer Chou Fu-liang's scores. There's audio commentary for Drunken Master by film historians Ric Meyers (longtime contributor to the now-defunct Inside Kung Fu magazine) and Jeff Yang (co-author of I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action).

To order Snake in the Eagle's Shadow / Drunken Master, visit Twilight Time's official distributor Screen Archives or alternatively the official Twilight Time website.


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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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