Friday, March 2, 2012

Movie Review: Twin Dragons (1992)

I normally trust websites like Rotten Tomatoes, but in this case my confidence has been shaken. Right now Twin Dragons has a paltry 45% "rotten" rating, while another film in the Jackie Chan oeuvre, Rumble in the Bronx, has a very respectable 79% "fresh" score. Both are fun action films, so what might account for this disparity? In the grand generic tradition of all Chan action films, Twin Dragons is built upon a combination of both action and comedy, but this one certainly has more of the latter than the former. In fact, this film is quite unique in that its narrative compares favorably to classic screwball comedies such as Bringing Up Baby (1938), the kind of film that demands supreme physical talents from its actors and clear staging by its director. Like most screwball comedies, Twin Dragons has an unbelievable story that gets progressively more unbelievable as it goes on, and it all starts with the usual case of mistaken identity between two brothers seperated at both and raised in different social strata. It's in this way that, like most screwball comedies, Twin Dragons supports a modicum of safe, sanitized social critique. Boomer, played by Chan, is a hood who inadvertently crosses paths with John Ma, a famous classical musician. You can about imagine all the hijinks that ensue, and though they're typical, they're tried and true. Of course, the whole thing's fairly banal, but that's the point, and that's the charm of a Jackie Chan movie. As hackneyed as the premise may sound, it's used rather cleverly to draw out the differences in attitude and ability between Jackie's two roles. Simplistic, straight-forward, time-tested techniques such as intercutting bring together, for instance, a shootout and a classical concert, one of the many highlights of the film. Still, though, Jackie's stunt work is tops. His fight inside a car manufacturing plant is almost as virtuosic as his award-winning rooftop symphony in Who Am I?. Like many of Chan's films, this one was picked up and dubbed to English after he got his first real mainstream exposure in the original Rush Hour, so the dialogue can often be, I imagine unintentionally, funny. No outtakes in this one, I'm afraid, and that's probably the only Jackie Chan trademark missing here. Otherwise this is probably one of the leanest, most perfect and quintessentially "Jackie" martial arts movies ever made.

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