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Double Dragon's clever use of special effects cannot mask the film's overly simplistic storyline and cheesy dialogue.
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Double Dragon's clever use of special effects cannot mask the film's overly simplistic storyline and cheesy dialogue.
All Critics (13)
| Top Critics (3)
| Fresh (1)
| Rotten (12)
Even kids won't get much of a kick out of this high-energy, low-IQ futuristic slugfest.
An incoherent children's adventure based on a popular video game.
While clumsily paced by first-time director Jim Yukich and amateurishly acted, the picture does take place against the imaginative backdrop of New Angeles, the urban archipelago formed when the Big One crumpled Southern California.
The thing about this movie is that it's absolutely mediocre. [Full review in Spanish]
Even at eleven years old I knew "Double Dragon" sucked.
There is a genial exuberance to the lead performances of Wolf and Dacascos, who behave as though the Lee brothers aren't too many rungs above Beavis and Butt-Head on the evolutionary ladder.
A surprisingly timid and largely toothless action fantasy for kids.
How hard would it be to come up with a story at least as good as that of the original Nintendo game? Impossible, apparently.
The grim view of the future is nothing new, the special effects involve poorly used matte paintings and pyrotechnics, and the actors do far too many double-takes.
Double Dragon pales in comparison to the game itself.
Its really quite amazing to see how campy the 90's could actually be. Its also mind-blowing to see just what movies actually got full cinematic releases back then. Case in point, 'Double Dragon', easily one of the most 90-iest 90's movies ever made.
K so just in case anyone wasn't in the know, this movie is based on the hugely popular scrolling beat 'em up videogame [i]Double Dragon[/i] released in 1987. Double Dragon was basically the game that kick-started a wave of martial arts inspired fighting games throughout the 80's. Interestingly this videogame adaptation was made two years before the dumpster fire that was 'Street Fighter'. But both movies were released in late 94, 'Double Dragon' coming first in November. I'm guessing the studio knew they had a piece of crap on their hands and possibly thought to release it during the height of the beat 'em up craze with 'Street Fighter' (?).
So what do we have here? Well its pretty much the standard 90's fantasy plot mixed in with lots of hokey oriental mysticism. Thousands of years ago in ancient China an army of shadow warriors lay siege to a city. In order to save his people the King sacrificed himself to create a powerful medallion. Said medallion gave its owner immeasurable powers over the body and soul. This power was so strong that the King (presumably before he died) split the medallion in two; one half giving power over the soul, the other the body. Naturally both halves have since been apart and hidden from each other.
No clue who the shadow warriors are or were. No clue why they were attacking this Chinese city. No idea how the King made this medallion by sacrificing himself. Why would the medallion be so powerful? Was the King a wizard or something? Did the medallion save his city and people? Why am I asking these questions? Well I guess because it all seems kinda important to the plot and its a huge chunk of exposition.
In the present (then) futuristic day of 2007 a nasty villain called Victor Guisman (inexplicably changing his name to Koga Shuko later on) is after the medallion so he can rule New Angeles (Los Angeles). He finds one half (on a bad set made to look like a Chinese village) but of course the other half is owned by the Lee brothers. The Lee brothers are of course based on the two main characters you can play in the videogame (Billy and Jimmy). Unfortunately they couldn't even get that right as they cast Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos. Now whilst I agree Wolf has the boyish looks and Dacascos has the martial arts skills, they most definitely can't pass as brothers. Putting all things aside, you have to remember this movie is terrible. That's the only reasonable excuse. But they did get their individual red and blue outfits right, so there's that...I guess.
Billy and Jimmy also have a guardian (adopted mother) that just happens to be an Asian lady with martial arts skills. Lucky that innit, image how crap things would have turned out if their adopted mother was a boring white woman who worked as a bank clerk. Satori Imada (Julia Nickson) is essentially the stereotypically wise mystical Asian character, thing is she isn't particularly mystical in this.
As for the villain we have the glorious Robert Patrick hamming it up...gloriously. The character of Victor Guisman/Koga Shuko was created for this movie but added into the 1995 Neo Geo videogame. For some reason this character has hair like Vanilla Ice, an obviously dyed goatee, eyeliner, and dresses like an evil oriental sorcerer of some kind (the usual obligatory dress code). His sidekicks are Linda Lash (Kristina Wagner) who is based off the whip wielding female fighters in the videogame. And finally Huey (Jeff Imada) and Lewis (Al Leong) who are your bog standard Asian martial arts henchmen (but not based on any game characters). I believe the duos names are a nod to the actual Huey Lewis for some reason. At one point Shuko asks [i]'Huey, Lewis, any news?'[/i]. A reference to [i]Huey Lewis and the News[/i].
Lets not forget Bo Abobo (Nils Allen Stewart) who is also another videogame character. This villain in the game was a huge roided up meatbag, obviously this being pre-The Rock there weren't that many guys as big back then. But Stewart is initially a good similarity. Alas they fudge this character right up by mutating him into some ginormous hemorrhoid. He then proceeds to do literally nothing for the rest of the movie.
So being a movie set in the future, and made in the 90's, there's only one direction this could possibly go. Yes that's right, its a dystopian, post apocalyptic, flooded hellhole that's overrun with various punk gangs and skateboarding vigilante groups. A massive earthquake destroyed half of California yadda yadda yadda. Its remarkable how cities seem to crumble into wastelands filled with gangs when natural disasters happen. Why did half of the youth decide to join scummy street gangs after the quake? How would that make your life any better? And where do they get all their gear from?? Is there a big leather, spikes and chains store in the area? The most utterly bizarre thing about these gangs is the fact some of them dress in postal uniforms, mime makeup, clown outfits, and posh grammar school-esque uniforms.
Then you have the Power Corps vigilante gang that...well I'm not sure what they actually do but they're all kids. Do they fight back against the baddie street gangs? Do they fight back against the police and their curfew? Not really sure but what I do know is their attire is totally tubular dude...not! Seriously this gang is the most 90's thing about this entire movie, its unbelievably cringeworthy. A large gang of kids of various ages in a large secret base filled with arcades, skateboard ramps, electronic equipment, some weird green water...hell its just an adventure playground covered in graffiti. And their leader is Marian (Alyssa Milano) from the videogame, only this time she's a badass with cropped bleached blonde hair and dressed in rainbow coloured slutwear. Seriously I think the director forgot this was a kids flick at certain points. Like the shot of Milano's ass in tight cut-off jeans whilst she's on all fours crawling into a vent.
So as you might expect there are tonnes (and I mean tonnes) of fast, not so witty, quips and mugging into the camera by virtually all involved. All the action centres around vapid childish martial arts sequences that just looked bad even back in 1994. You can see no contact is being made, the sound effects are way too much, everybody is over acting when getting struck etc...Its legitimately embarrassing to watch at times. Other actions sequences focus on vehicles which are just as bad because its all very slow and basic. It makes no sense why the vehicles are the way they are (seemingly no petrol but running on anything you can stick into furnace-like tank). And how would a common street gang get a hold of a massive Humvee-like 4x4? Oh and they stuck metal teeth on the front grill, because that's hella intimidating right...right??
The speed boat chase sequence is the epitome of how naff this really is. Billy and Jimmy find a speed boat and escape on the river. The bad guys just happen to be all suited up in all black wetsuits with a couple jet-skis ready and waiting to take pursuit. I think the only positive thing I can say about the movie (and this sequence) are the nice looking matte paintings dotted throughout. These images of a ruined LA alongside live action shots do genuinely look quite good. I quite liked the idea of these large metal struts that hold buildings in place, because of aftershocks. And the special effects on Shuko in his shadow form (when activating his half of the medallion) were very effective. The creeping living shadow on the ground was a nicely realised idea.
I think the question here is, should we have expected more from this kids movie? Well at the time videogame adaptations were just starting to flood the market so to speak. 'Street Fighter', 'Mortal Kombat', 'Resident Evil', 'Tomb Raider' were all to come, looming on the horizon. Sure we had already suffered 'Super Mario Bros.' but that was merely seen as a one off mistake, a blip on the upcoming genre. So yes I think its fair to say we were expecting more at the time and looking back they should have done much better. Clearly this should have been an adult movie, I think an over the top violent adult flick could have gotten away with more here. As it stands a dopey kids movie was always gonna be tough because you're simply restricting yourself so much.
The plot is weak as hell, cookie cutter stuff. The characters are basic bland stereotypes. There is absolutely no risk involved in anything (no one dies). [b]Way[/b] too many kid actors, also the background extras are hilarious to watch. Just focus on the odd one in crowd scenes and watch them 'act'. The costumes are a literal joke. The weapons all look plastic. The pop culture dates the movie terribly (George Hamilton as a newcaster, digs at Madonna etc...). Dreadful looking early CGI sequences are dreadfully ghastly. Oh and the actual arcade cabinet of Double Dragon is clearly seen in the movie...ugh!!! In short this movie is a pantomime of crap. Its not 'so bad its good', its just bad.
I mean, if you think Street Fighter was bad, at least it had Raul Julia's greatest performance as the villain and some great action sequences, but after learning what the Nostalgia Critic himself has taught me about this film, I now agree with him.
But before we can go to the negatives, I have three praises for this film and those are the decent special effects, the solid costume designs, and the well-choreographed action sequences.
But those three praises didn't save this god-awful film as everything went extremely wrong. The story was too predictable and very simple for a video game adaptation, the dialogue was unbelievably cheesy, the characters were cardboard cutouts, and the writing/editing was choppy. For example, near the end of the film, where Billy and Jimmy are about to battle each other, it showed a Double Dragon video game, which raises one question: How can a video game adaptation have a video game in which it was based on? Looks like the director himself didn't had time to explain and just focused on the action.
Why can't Hollywood ever make a good video game adaptation? Why do they always have to alter the story lines that made the video games so popular? It looks like those two questions were never answered until later in the 2000s that some video game adaptations have finally started to become good. I wish there was a remake of this, but since it bombed at the box office, I guess Hollywood's gonna move on now.
This is very poor TV Movie with a poor acting.
Worst based on the original video game in marital arts film I ever saw, looked stupid and crap.
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