a critiQal film review Twin Dragons (1999)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Identical twins born in a Hong Kong hospital are separated at birth. All grown up, their professions reflect their vastly different upbringings: John Ma (Chan), raised in elite American surroundings, is highly educated and a world famous maestro; the other, Boomer (Chan), raised by a Hong Kong prostitute, is street smart and well-versed in martial arts. When a case of mistaken identity brings them together for the first time, they must swap places and take action to save themselves from the Hong Kong mob.

500 words (Est. Reading Time 2m 30s)

As I was online, trying to figure out which film to watch next on my NetFlix® instant queue, I noticed that one of the films on my list, Twin Dragons, was only available for viewing for another few days. Although I had never seen the movie, it starred Jackie Chan, so I figured I was at least in for some good martial arts fun, so I decided to give it a shot.

Would that be a good idea, or should I have let this doppelganger movie expire – and saved myself some agony?

Apparently filmed before Jackie Chan had started practicing English as a second language, Twin Dragons is dubbed into English. Despite that, the comedy abounds, and Jackie Chan gets to do lots of surprised gawks and double-takes as he plays two different characters.

Maggie Cheung and Nina Li Chi are the gals for the pair of Jackies, and each does their part decently enough. Cheung, as Barbara, comes off a lot slicker and more stylish, but Li Chi seems perfect for some of the more silly sequences.

Teddy Robin, as buddy Tyson, is rather ridiculous, and spends most of the film scrabbling away while Jackie leaps in for the rescue. Topping his acting off with the dubbed voice only makes him seem more ridiculous, and he seems to be nothing but the leverage used against one of the Jackies.

The plot is rather ridiculous, as is expected from a “twins separated at birth” storyline, but the double-takes and mistaken identity are occasionally humorous, if not very intelligent, and the viewer should find themselves smiling over the course of the film.

Of course, since Twin Dragons is a Jackie Chan movie, the main course is martial arts, and Chan serves up a heaping helping of fun in that department. As he slithers in and out of car windows and throughout a car testing facility (most of which is obviously just props for Chan to use in his fights), the viewer will remember why a Jackie Chan fight is so much fun to watch.

While Jet Li can impress with high kicks and powerhouse blows, Jackie usually adds a bit of humor to his fights, as he uses anything at his disposal – from a car door to bar stools and anything and everything in between. Half of his fights seem to be him grabbing desperately for another object, then using it expertly on his opponents – usually surprising both the viewer and himself with his success. His comedic fighting style is what brings viewers back again and again, and no translation is needed for that kind of fun.

Twin Dragons, although ridiculously dubbed into English, still manages to satisfy via a fun combination of humor and Chan’s unique comedic fighting style. Although the “separated twins” idea is ridiculously cliche – and the dubbing helps make the film even more laughable – the silly cases of mistaken identity and some enjoyable martial arts fights make this one hard to dislike.

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