Directors: Ringo Lam, Tsui Hark
Stars: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung
The old story of twins separated at birth, done Jackie Chan-style. After a criminal snatches one of the babies from a hospital during an escape attempt, it falls into the hands of a drunken woman, who adopts the baby as her own. He grows up to be a rough car mechanic (who can whip major ass) named Boomer, while the other, John (who grew up in affluence in America) is a conductor. When John comes to Hong Kong for a concert, the twins meet up by accident and both their lives get mixed up. It seems Boomer owes the Triad a pile of cash after losing a street race and they want him to "earn" it back by helping in a robbery. After kidnapping Boomer's best friend as insurance, the Triads mistakenly grab John (who, it seems, is quite a wuss and can't punch his way out of the proverbial paper bag). The two twins must try to assume each other's identities -- John by helping in the robbery and Boomer by conducting a symphony -- all the while trying to keep their respective girlfriends happy. As you might expect, Boomer and John eventually get back together and team up to save the day.
Twin Dragons suffers from a pretty tired plot. The "mismatched twins" thing has been done many times before, such as Van Damme's Double Impact. Chan does nothing to help matters. He's bad as both twins. His attempts to look tough as Boomer by putting his hair in a cheesy ponytail, slapping on a clip-on earring and grimacing are ridiculous. Chan is only slightly better as John, but again, he's not very convincing. I know it seems silly to knock Chan's acting abilities -- after all, who watches a Jackie Chan movie for his acting prowess? But most of his best films (such as Drunken Master II) feature Chan in the slightly goofy "everyman" character that we have all come to know and love. When Chan tries to stretch out his acting chops, it just comes across as very phony and hurts the movie as a whole. There have, of course, been exceptions (such as Crime Story, where Chan turned in a believable, serious performance as a tough cop) but in Twin Dragons it just doesn't work. I guess we should at least be happy that neither of Chan's characters are named "Jackie."
Another problem with Twin Dragons is that it centers around lame "which twin is it?" jokes and even lamer attempts at romance (a ballroom dancing fantasy sequence is so cheesy it almost made me retch) rather than action. Don't get me wrong -- what action is in Twin Dragons (including a huge brawl inside a dangerous car testing facility) is quite good. There just isn't enough of it. The movie's pace slows down to a crawl at points, and in a Jackie Chan movie, that spells death.
The old adage of "too many cooks spoling the broth" applies to Twin Dragons. When you have two different directors on the film with radically different styles it usually doesn't end up creating a cohesive work. It's readily apparent that certain sequences were done by Ringo Lam and some were done by Tsui Hark, and they don't mesh together very well. Add in Chan's own direction in the action sequences and you get a big mess at certain points in the film.
I should probably mention that once again the lovely and talented Maggie Cheung is wasted in a Jackie Chan film, this time as Boomer's girlfriend. At least she isn't as annoying as the air-headed May featured in the Police Story movies.
Twin Dragons isn't horrible, but Chan has done much better. HK film fans will probably have more fun watching out for cameos from many stars and directors (like John Woo) than the actual movie. If you're picking up an English-language version of the film, make sure you get the Dimension version, or else be prepared for very poor picture quality and lousy dubbing.
Click here to view the trailer for this movie (clip courtesy of Movie List)
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