Drunken Master (Yuen Woo Ping)
Whenever you hear people talking about the grace and poetry of Hong Kong cinema, they're usually talking about movies other than this, and they're usually fucking idiots.
Drunken Master is, hands down, one of the two best films to ever come out of Hong Kong. There has never been an action film that's been able to compare. And I wish all the assholes who think that pouring seventeen gazillion dollars into CGI and explosions would sit back and look at this movie.
This is a film which understands, ultimately, that what makes cinema uniquely poignant and affecting is the ability to present motion. Big action films don't do that. They give you a sense of motion, but if you look at them closely, nothing is ever moving. They give false motion through editing and effects.
Drunken Master is filmed, (more likely than not due to budgetary constraints) with a relatively static camera. There are no guns. There are no explosions. There's a virtuoso and his ability and nothing else. The shots of the action are all extremely long and uncut, and they're amazing because Jackie Chan is at the literal peak of his martial artistry and physical ability, and the movement is so captivating that it enables you to suffer through the dubbing and silly scenes of him eating without even noticing.
It's as much a product of circumstance as it is of talent. The limited budget of this movie adds to it dramatically; the sequel is a great film, and the martial arts scenes are undoubtedly more fantastic in scope than the original, but they're not presented in a relatively unedited format, and their power is ultimately diluted. Drunker Master II also wasn't directed by Yuen Woo Ping, who is by far the best of all the martial arts directors in Hong Kong, but even his Wing Chun, probably my second favorite Martial Arts film, being filmed some 15 or so years after the original Drunker Master, can't escape the constraints of a big budget; it's littered with stunt wires and the rest.