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Twin Dragons (1999)

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Score: 4/10

Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 44 min.

Release Date: April 9th, 1999 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Ringo Lam, Hark Tsui Actors: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Teddy Robin, James Wong, Sylvia Chang, Kirk Wong, Mabel Cheung, Nina Li Chi

I

n Hong Kong in 1965, twin boys are separated at birth thanks to a crazed murderer who takes one of them hostage during a bullet-riddled shootout. After the child lands in a wheelchair and is discovered by a drunk woman, who calls him Boomer, he grows up on the streets, battling his way through gangs and earning money as a mechanic and driver. Meanwhile, the other twin, John Ma (Jackie Chan), leads a life of privilege and education, eventually performing as a star composer and pianist at the Lincoln Center in New York.

When diminutive Tyson (Teddy Robin) and Boomer crash a mob boss’ party, they rescue singer Barbara (Maggie Cheung). But they’re the ones in need of a rescue after they not only bail out a woman whom Tyson lied about knowing, but are also severely outnumbered by the gangsters. Fortunately, Boomer knows a thing or two about street racing, which allows them to wager against the mobster for a cool $300,000. Of course, when they lose the race, they’re forced to flee to China to avoid a swift execution.

The plot doesn’t make much sense, especially as Boomer manages to elude serious trouble very regularly. And Tyson is the kind of moronic sidekick who would be immediately killed in a sincerer action film. Plus, the gimmick of the twins not only having synchronized feelings, but also getting mixed up in each other’s lives, is almost too unexceptional to form the basis for misadventures. Further role reversals arise when Boomer must take the place of the mob boss, and when the twins’ romantic interests (themselves in love triangles) switch places (the other being Nina Li Chi as Tammy). Surely it’s no coincidence that co-director Ringo Lam would go on to helm “Maximum Risk,” which also involved martial artist twins in mistaken identities.

Nonetheless, “Twin Dragons” is primarily about the action scenes – though they are mostly unrelated to all the comical drama (somehow, boat chases and explosive prison breaks find their way into the picture). Slapstick action, exceptional stunts, and Jackie Chan’s signature use of plenty of props are all on show, despite encountering competition from an abundance of humor¬† – from the mechanic being forced to conduct an orchestra, to the musician struggling to properly drive a getaway vehicle (in a laugh-out-loud funny juxtaposition). There are also some ludicrous scenarios involving the brothers attempting to sort out their female troubles – by both climbing into a tub together or by hiding in the bedroom. By the end, even with a rambunctious finale, the focus remains on playful and mischievous skirmishes rather than highly creative showdowns, which is always a shame in a Jackie Chan production. And there aren’t even any outtakes! “Where’s the seatbelt!”

– Mike Massie

 



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