Twin Dragons

Twin Dragons (1992)
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Cast: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Teddy Robin Kwan

When you can get your hands on a Jackie Chan movie, it is practically always a warrant for an action-packed and completely furious film, sprinkled with hilarious comedy throughout. Some time ago, Miramax licensed the rights to Chan’s 1992 film "Shuang Long Hui" and released it to theaters last year under its international title "Twin Dragons". While it was an obvious attempt to cash in on the actor’s current star power, it is good to see that it will further help attract people to the ingenuity of Chan’s films. Now, this rapid-fire action-comedy has been released onto DVD through Buena Vista Home Video in a fully dubbed version.

Through an accident in the hospital they were born in, two twin babies are separated. While one of them is presumed dead, the other one is raised in Hong Kong with its wealthy family. As he grows up, John Ma (Jackie Chan), shows promising musical talents and eventually becomes one of the country’s most acclaimed pianists and conductors. The missing baby is at the same time raised in a poor environment. The new mother is a drunkard who called the baby Boomer the night she found it in the gutters after the hospital accident. And so years pass without the twins knowing of each other’s existence.

Boomer (Jackie Chan) turns out to be a mechanic but his friend Tarzan (Teddy Robin Kwan) constantly causes trouble for both of them, and one night they get involved with the Mob in an attempt to rescue a singer (Maggie Cheung) from the hands of the unscrupulous mob boss. At the same time John Ma comes to town to conduct his latest work and soon a furious game of confusion takes place. At first unaware of each other’s presence, the twins are thrown into absurd situations, while later they use their different identities to strategically outsmart the Mob who are still after Boomer and Tarzan after they are unable to pay their gambling debts.

"Twin Dragons" is one of Jackie Chan’s funniest films ever. Although the movie still shows a breathtaking array of martial arts, the context is very different and the focus of the story is clearly on the slapstick humor, the jokes and the confusing situations. The film feels like the Hong Kong predecessor of "There’s Something About Mary". It contains the same abstruse kind of over-the-top humor, the same rapid-fire delivery, but on top of that it features two Jackie Chans at the height of his skills. The scenes when Chan is conducting the orchestra with martial arts moves, when the characters momentarily and beginnings involuntarily replace each other are memorable and truly uproarious. "Twin Dragons " is a movie that makes you laugh out loud constantly, but at the same time keeps you in its grips when the action gets rougher and Jackie Chan delivers some of his trademark martial arts performances. While the stunts in this film may not be as show-stopping as those in films like "Mr. Nice Guy", "Rumble In The Bronx" or "Who Am I?" the film itself is no less enjoyable. It is one of the wackiest films Chan has ever done and a must-see for all fans of slapstick comedies – after all, no comedian I know is nearly as reactive and physically responsive as Jackie Chan.

The film is beautifully acted and introduces us to some great characters. Jackie Chan in the role of two characters is brilliant and sometimes the confusion is perfect, even for the viewer, which one is which. Once again he shows us that behind the charismatic martial artist is a whole-hearted comedian who can easily live on his merits as an actor alone. Maggie Cheung is great as the wide-eyed Barbara as she gets tangled in the web of confusion, and Teddy Robin Kwan comes across as an early version of Mini-Me. His lines – and his bragging cowardice are a riot.

It is the overall movie that makes this film so enjoyable and not only some selective actors. Hong Kong cult director’s Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam throw in all their weight to create a balanced mix of comedy and action, one that even successfully balances humor within the action. The film delivers a lot of stunts and the list of people involved in these martial arts and stunt sequences reads like the Who-Is-Who of Hong Kong cinema. From the legend stunt-coordinator/director Woo-ping Yuen (Tai Chi Master, Iron Monkey, Wing Chun, Black Mask), over Jackie Chan himself, all the way to "A Chinese Ghost Story", "Swordsman" and "The Executioners" stunt coordinator/director Siu-Tung Ching, this film drew on some high caliber talent to make sure the film is turning out perfect. And perfect it is!

Buena Vista Home Entertainment’s release of "Twin Dragons" on this DVD contains the film’s <$PS,widescreen> version it is original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The transfer is very clean with a high level of detail despite the lack of an <$16x9,anamorphic> transfer and brings out the strong colors of the film. Color delineation is perfect and hues are well saturated. The result is a pleasing and balanced looking picture with deep, solid blacks and good highlights. The compression is free of artifacts or <$chroma,chroma noise>, making this a truly fine looking DVD. The disc contains an English <$DD,Dolby Digital> <$5.1,5.1 channel> surround soundtrack that is captivating and well-produced. Unfortunately Buena Vista did not include the original Chinese language tracks on this disc and also subtitles are sorely missing. For fans of the Hong Kong film genre it would have been preferable to be able to switch to a Cantonese track with English subtitles. Fortunately, in the end the film is just as enjoyable in English as it is in Chinese, despite the sometimes inadequate dubs that in their incompetence actually add to the film’s comical aspects at times.

"Twin Dragons" is a riot that will have you rolling on the floor. It is the perfect vehicle to get people interested in Hong Kong movies. With its light-hearted humor and chaotic slapstick, it is a great movie for anyone who loves comedies. At the same time it shows off one of Hong Kong’s best martial artists masterfully blending this over-the-top humor with breathtaking acrobatics and stunts. You will love "Twin Dragons," so give this new and great-looking release from Buena Vista a try.