Review for Twin Dragons - Deluxe Collector's Edition

9 / 10

Introduction


There have always been twin characters in movies, giving actors the chance to make twice as much money. There have also been plenty of action movies with twins, usually separated at birth, and usually played by Jean Claude Van Damme. But 1988’s Twins gave this little sub-genre an injection of vitality, by introducing no little comedy to the action. It may have been hard to tell Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito apart physically, but their characters couldn’t have been more different, and that made for a whole lot of comedy. Naturally, Hong Kong would be inspired, and Jackie Chan knows all about blending action and comedy. In 1992, Twin Dragons came out, and would you believe it’s taken me this long to actually watch it? I know; a Jackie Chan action comedy from his prime that I hadn’t seen! Last year 88 Films released this Deluxe Edition.

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The Ma family were in Hong Kong when the mother gave birth to twins. But the happy day was shattered by a hostage situation, and the newborn twins wound up separated, one of the babies lost. The distraught parents returned to New York with their son Ma Yau, who was raised as a musician, to eventually become a famous concert conductor. But the other boy was found and raised in Hong Kong, where he grew up to be a mechanic named Die Hard, who with his friend Tarzan has a knack of finding trouble to get out of. Unbeknownst to each other, they have a psychic connection that gets stronger with proximity, and now that Ma Yau is finally returning to Hong Kong for a concert tour, the long lost twins are going to be drawn into each other’s worlds.

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The Disc


Twin Dragons gets a 2.39:1 widescreen 1080p transfer on this disc. The Hong Kong version offers DTS-HD MA 2.0 Mono Cantonese, Alternative Cantonese, and English Dub, as well as DTS-HD MA 2.0 Stereo Cantonese Home Video Mix, which is the version I watched. You have the choice between translated English subtitles, and a Hard of Hearing subtitle track to accompany the dub. The Dimension Films version in the Extras comes with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround English and optional Hard of Hearing subtitles. The film has had a clean-up for presentation on this disc, but restoration has been sympathetically done, it at all. The image is clear and sharp, stable, with rich and consistent colours and no sign of print damage on the Hong Kong version (the Dimension Films version is a little more creased, but not by much). But the film looks very much of its age, the grain of an early nineties film stock very much apparent, and with a bit of overall haziness. I was happy enough with the Cantonese stereo track (usually on these discs, the Home Video Mix is the one to go for), and the action comes across well, the jaunty music suits the story, and the dialogue is clear, the subtitles timed accurately and free of typos.

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Extras


You get one disc in a BD Amaray style case with a reversible sleeve, and four two-sided postcards. The case slips inside a rigid slipcase, in which you’ll also find a foldout double-sided poster that repeats the sleeve-art, and an 80-page booklet with writing on the film from Thorsten Boose, and Paul Bramhall. There’s a card blurb sheet inside the cellophane when you buy the release, which can also be stored inside the slipcase.

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On the disc you’ll find the following extras...

Audio commentary with Frank Djeng and F. J. DeSanto
Dimension Films Version of Twin Dragons (89:01)
Interview with Actors Ting Wei and James Ha (13:51)
Scene from the Japanese Version (0:23)
Taiwanese Deleted Scenes (1:03)
Archive EPK Q&A (2:50)
Archive Behind the Scenes Footage (25:21)
Archive Jackie Chan Interview (25:21)

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Hong Kong Trailer (2:49)
English Trailer (2:26)
Japanese Trailer (1:35)
Japanese TV Spot (0:31)
UK VHS Trailer (1:22)
English Opening/Closing (9:09)

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Conclusion


I never thought this would happen, getting to watch a Jackie Chan action comedy I haven’t seen before, after 32 years! I thought that I had seen them all, at least all of the decent ones, and I guess somewhere in the back of my head I had convinced myself that I had indeed already seen Twin Dragons. It is after all the kind of film that I would seek out. Indeed, I had this Deluxe Edition on my to-watch pile for almost a year before I got around to putting the disc in my player, just because I thought I had already watched the film. But last night I was taken back to my teenage years, back when I finally had free rein of late night TV, and had discovered the really cool foreign movies that were shown late at night on Channel 4, back when I fell in love with Jackie Chan action comedies.

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Certainly no-one really mentions Twin Dragons when it comes to top-tier Jackie Chan action comedy films, and it’s easy to see why. Back when the film was made, it was an exercise in promotion, a fund raising venture for Hong Kong’s directors’ guild, which is one reason why there are so many directors’ cameos in the movie. It’s not the most creative motive to make a movie, and as mentioned, comparisons to the Hollywood Twins movie from 1988 would no doubt have been forthcoming back then. But those cynical criticisms are erased by the passage of time. This long after the film’s release, it’s easier to take it at face value, and Twin Dragons really does stand up well against the other films in Jackie Chan’s filmography, even those from his Golden Harvest prime.

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Twin Dragons plays it more for laughs than for drama, with larger than life characters and absurd situations. Jackie Chan does the double role thing well, creating an effete, and cultured concert conductor, and a brazen street punk of a mechanic. It’s established early on that Die Hard has issues with the criminal fraternity, especially when his friend Tarzan enlists his aid to help the girl that he’s obsessing over deal with a small time crime boss. That kicks off a chain of events leading up the criminal hierarchy that gets Die Hard into more and more trouble. All this time, he’s trying not to get attracted to Barbara, the girl that they rescue at the start of the film, given that his friend Tarzan is head over heels for her in unrequited love.

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At the same time, Ma Yau has arrived in Hong Kong to perform, and he’s met by an obsequious uncle who’s intent on setting the acclaimed musician up with his daughter Tong Sum, despite the fact she already has a boyfriend. And now that both brothers are in close proximity, their psychic link kicks into high gear, and they both start experiencing what the other is doing, with hilarious consequences. With an identical twin farce, there inevitably comes the point where the two will encounter each other, but not before they inadvertently swap love interests, and both Barbara and Tong Sum find that they like the new aspect of their ‘partner’s’ personality more than their respective first encounters. The villains of the plot come back into focus for the film’s finale, just in time for the kind of drawn out action sequence that you want from a Jackie Chan movie.

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Jackie Chan is in his prime here, and the comedy works really well, but more importantly, the fight scenes are brilliantly choreographed, and can leave you breathless trying to keep up. There’s no shortage of insane stunts too. I had a great time watching Twin Dragons, and it leaves me with hope that even after all this time, there might still be a few Jackie Chan gems from the eighties and nineties that I still have yet to see. 88 Films do excellent work putting this package together, when it comes to options for watching the film, and in terms of on disc and physical extras too.

Twin Dragons can be bought direct from 88 Films, from Terracotta, and from mainstream retailers.

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