Echo Bridge Home Entertainment // 1992 // 89 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // August 18th, 2011
Now, twice the action, fun, and adventure!
Jackie Chan is known for a number of things. The first would be his marital arts films, and following close on its heels would be his stunt work. The two are, of course, closely intertwined. His martial arts skills, perhaps goofy or laughable to the grandmasters of various styles, are really an excuse for Jackie Chan the Stunt Man to show his stuff. This makes total sense once you realize that Jackie Chan was trained as a youth not in martial arts per se, but in Peking Opera. Like a high-class version of American circus performing, Peking Opera combines spectacles like acrobatics and dance with music and dance. Only in this context do some of Chan's strange career choices make sense; he's not necessarily out to make a good Kung Fu movie, he's there to entertain. He usually takes the guise of the hapless comedian in the vein of silent stars who do intelligent and strictly timed pratfalls for the audience's amusement. That is perhaps the only way to understand Twin Dragons (Blu-ray), a twin-themed comedy-action extravaganza that attempts to double our pleasure by doubling the Jackie Chan quotient. It's polite and inoffensive, but even Jackie Chan's epic stunt work can't save this film from a tired premise.
Mrs. Ma gives birth to twins in a Hong Kong hospital just as a criminal is being wheeled onto her floor. The criminal escapes, using one of the Ma twins as a shield. In the ensuing scuffle, one twin is rescued while the other disappears into the night to be picked up by a stranger. Mr. and Mrs. Ma take their remaining son back to America, where he grows up to be a famous violinist/conductor. Meanwhile, his twin has grown up in the HK underground as a jack-of-all-trades bodyguard type. Sparks fly when the famous conductor comes to give a performance and naturally the two are mistaken for each other.
As far as I'm concerned, we don't need another twin movie after Dead Ringers, and certainly not one where both twins are played by the same actor. Yet, we have not one, but two different films out there where martial artists feel the need the re-enact The Prince and the Pauper. One is Double Impact with the Muscles from Brussels, Jean-Claude Van Damme. The other is Twin Dragons, with none other than Jackie Chan. I guess this kind of story almost writes itself, because these types of films are so similar. We've got the brothers from different sides of the tracks, the mixups with their respective lives, and their coming together in the end to teach each other a lesson about how the other one lives. It's so darn heartwarming.
It's also really predictable. The same lame jokes that every twin-oriented tale are pulled out, with the same surprises as the twins meet (this time at a urinal!) and the usual uncomfortable laughs that are garnered when people change places and can't do a particular job. But, you might be saying, this is a Jackie Chan picture, and if the fights are good then all is forgiven. Well, you'd be half right. The fights in Twin Dragons are good, but there aren't nearly enough of them. The opening starts strong, but then we have to wait 10 to 15 minutes in between each of the other fight scenes, and that's just too darn long for a film of this type. Ironically, one of the reasons this film is rated PG-13 is the "nonstop martial arts action." If only.
Fans with the Supercop/Twin Dragons double release probably don't need to upgrade to this standalone disc. The film is still in 1080i this time out, but the extra detail in this AVC-encoded transfer only serves to show how primitive the special effects were; just witness the way Jackie Chan's coat wavers when he stands next to himself at the urinal. It's waving like a flag in the breeze, and the extra resolution of Blu-ray doesn't help it any. Otherwise, detail is sporadic, color saturation okay, and grain solid. The print, however, is a bit damaged with intermittent speckling. The stereo track is a laughable English dub that makes this film all the more painful; the only place I want to hear dubbing this bad is on a Wu-Tang album. The lone extra is a short interview with Jackie Chan.
If you absolutely love Jackie Chan, you should at least see this film. Also, apparently the Hong Kong theatrical grosses went to help the Hong Kong Directors Guild, so at least all this silliness helped a good cause.
I'm all for a good martial arts comedy, but this kind of half-baked jokey flick just doesn't do it; it's not funny enough to make up for the lack of fights, and the fights aren't good enough to make up for the lack of laughs. The so-so Blu-ray presentation doesn't do anyone any favors, either.
Twin Dragons is a double drag. Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Echo Bridge Home Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080i)
* DTS 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 89 Minutes
Release Year: 1992
MPAA Rating: Rated R