Twins. One's a martial arts master. The other's a maestro. Now, they're about to show the world that two Chans are better than one.
An above-average Jackie Chan comedy-adventure flick is served up in typical Buena Vista fashion.
Ever since the release of Rumble in the Bronx here in the U.S. I have been a die hard Jackie Chan fan. While Rumble in the Bronx had a unique comic sense, it plodded along with a rather boring storyline. However, all plot holes were quickly forgiven when Jackie Chan started to do his thing and bashed some brains in the Bronx. Unlike other martial arts stars, Chan has re-invented the wheel with his unique blend of martial arts, comedy, and props. Chan uses the items around him (be it ladders, eggs, chairs, refrigerators, pinball machines, et cetera) to accentuate action sequences, and the result is nothing less than stunning. Hours of boredom are quickly redeemed by five minutes of pure mind-blowing action.
So after seeing numerous Chan releases in the past few years I looked to Twin Dragons to be another standard Jackie Chan romp. However, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw in this film. The film revolves around twin brothers, both played by Chan, who are separated at birth. One brother, John, grows up to become an exceptionally talented musician who travels the world conducting orchestras. The other brother, Boomer, grows up on the streets and makes his way through the world with various odd jobs, and fighting whenever necessary. Through the years Boomer picks up a troubled friend, Tyson, who constantly shoots off his big mouth, placing the pair in constant trouble. Tyson soon manages to get on the bad side of a local mob boss who targets both Tyson and Boomer when they loose a high-stakes car race (not shown in the film, unfortunately). As Boomer and Tyson flee Hong Kong, the pair runs into John as he arrives in Hong Kong for a concert. Before long, John and Boomer end up switching places, girlfriends, and responsibilities. The mistaken identity between the two brothers plays out very nicely in the film to some extremely humorous extents. Eventually Boomer and John must team up to rescue Tyson from the mob boss who wants them all dead. Thus, the action ensues.
As I said before, in most Jackie Chan movies the storyline is only used as a basis for the incredible action sequences. In Twin Dragons, however, the mistaken identity plot of the film proves to be vastly more entertaining than the plot of any other Chan film to date (save Rush Hour). Therefore, the incredible action sequences in this film are not forced to redeem anything. Twin Dragons is all-around entertaining and a real step-forward for Jackie Chan films.
The DVD itself is fairly stable, transfer-wise, for a Jackie Chan film. In classic Buena Vista style, the film is presented in a non-anamorphic widescreen transfer. On a 4:3 TV set the 2.35:1 video transfer holds up extremely well. No compression artifacts are to be seen on this transfer and, despite only covering a single layer, the image is extremely sharp and accurate. Flesh tones look realistic, black levels are on the mark, and, even during scenes in the latter part of the film that deal with red lights, there is no color bleeding. Meanwhile, the 5.1 Dolby Digital track is the best one can hope for on a dubbed film. The dialogue never matches actor's mouth movements (it is dubbed after all!), is well placed on the front sound stage and sound effects are mixed in well to the track. Although it is a 5.1 track, you will be hard-pressed to find many instances in the film that make use of the subwoofer or rear channels. Nevertheless, Jackie Chan romps have never sounded better!
Extra content is limited to two "Film Recommendations" screens. Just when you thought Buena Vista couldn't include less content on their discs…
The Rebuttal Witnesses
Now that I finally have a widescreen display to judge transfers, on I can really rip into Buena Vista for their non-anamorphic releases. My Palm Theater DVD player, although small, has a tremendously high quality widescreen display that is adjustable to zoom in on non-anamorphic images, so the image displays on the entire screen. When I zoomed in on Twin Dragons the result was not pretty. As with most non-anamorphic transfers, the image displayed on widescreen sets comes across as pixilated and "chunky." One must move further away from the display to allow the image to become more solid and cohesive. The image quality is drastically poor on widescreen displays, especially in comparison to anamorphic transfers. Unfortunately, Twin Dragons is not a disc you will be showing to your grandchildren in years to come.
I have no idea why Buena Vista even took the time to add "Film Recommendations" screens to this DVD release; they might as well save time because no one cares. I guess Buena Vista is under the impression that advertising mostly unrelated discs on a DVD will get a consumer to purchase them. It reminds me of my local movie theater that now prints ads on the tickets themselves. Not even a theatrical trailer though? Up until a few days ago, I would have said that lack of content is even below Buena Vista…I was wrong.
Extra content is what is needed to justify a $25 purchase of a DVD, plain and simple. Otherwise, Twin Dragons is nothing more than an entertaining rental.
I have a few minor gripes about the film as well. First of all, the scenes where Chan acted against himself on-screen, through the help of special effects, looked really bad. Jackie would literally walk through the other character he was playing on-screen at certain points. For most of the film the brothers are kept out of the same shot, giving the impression that they are separate individuals, but never showing them together. Finally, a major Chan trademark was missing from the end of the film: the blooper reel! Everyone loves seeing Jackie Chan goofing off on-screen and cringing when he messes up a crucial stunt. However, Twin Dragons is one of the very few Jackie Chan films that do not contain the blooper reel which runs during the credits. That certainly pissed me off…
Chan fans who have not seen this film should run out and rent it. Those who have yet to experience Jackie Chan flicks can't go wrong with renting Twin Dragons as a great example of what the hype surrounding Jackie is all about. However, without even an anamorphic transfer, I see no way I can recommend anyone purchase this DVD—at least not for $25.
Jackie Chan acquitted. Buena Vista sentenced to continue to rot in home video hell. Give Fox my regards!
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