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If you are a fan of Jackie Chan movies, then TWIN DRAGONS ($30) is a film you will be certain to enjoy. Sure, the movie sports cheesy special effects, a plot with all the originality of a rerun of THE PATTY DUKE SHOW and unimaginably bad English language dialogue. However, despite its obvious flaws, TWIN DRAGONS proves to be an utterly hilarious Jackie Chan romp. The reason TWIN DRAGONS succeeds is because the film relies on slapstick comedy, instead of spoken humor, and Jackie Chan is a master of that particular comedic art form. In TWIN DRAGONS, Jackie Chan plays identical twin brothers who are separated at birth by somewhat farfetched circumstances.

One brother, John Ma, is raised with all the advantages of privileged youth and grows up to be a famous orchestral conductor. Boomer, the other brother, grows up to be a mechanic on the mean streets of Hong Kong, where he is forced to defend himself. Just as Boomer finds himself in a jam with the local mob, John Ma comes to Hong Kong to give an important concert. Of course, the brother's paths do cross, which leads to one case of mistaken identity after another. As you might have guessed, the mechanic winds up on the concert stage, while the conductor is forced to face down some bad guys, but lacks the necessary fighting skills. TWIN DRAGONS tips the scales in favor of comedy, so the martial arts/action sequences are more slapstick driven than most other Jackie Chan outings, making this film a genuine laugh fest. In addition to Jackie Chan, the cast of TWIN DRAGONS includes Teddy Robin Kwan as Boomer's smart-ass sidekick, who gets both brothers in trouble, plus Maggie Cheung and Nina Li Chi as the women who can't quite tell which brother is which.

Dimension Home Video has made TWIN DRAGONS available on DVD in a wide screen presentation that lacks the enhancement for 16:9 displays. Despite the lack of the 16:9 component, the Letterboxed transfer restores the film's 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio and looks pretty darn good. The image is sharp and delivers better than average detail. Since TWIN DRAGONS is a Hong Kong production, it doesn't have the completely polished look of a Hollywood movie. There is occasional evidence of film grain in the image, plus the special effects sequences with two Jackie Chans are a bit sloppy looking, especially on a high resolution format like DVD. Still, the colors look quite nice, with healthy looking flesh tones and solid saturation. Blacks are perfectly reproduced and contrast is very smooth. Digital compression artifact didn't really make their presence known.

The Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack is professional, but not awe inspiring. The forward soundstage has good channel separation and the dubbed dialogue (while sometimes inane and embarrassingly funny) is well recorded. Active effects are somewhat limited in the rear channels, however they do provide a great deal of ambience and fill. Subtitles are encoded onto the DVD in English.

The interactive menus are quite basic, delivering the standard scene selection and setup features.

TWIN DRAGONS isn't a great Jackie Chan movie by any stretch of the imagination. However, the movie is extremely funny and certain to please his numerous fans. Recommended to them, or anyone else looking for a good laugh.




DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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