Rated PG-13 - Running time: 1:40 - Released 4/9/99

Thank goodness for teenaged American boys. That must be what Hong Kong movie producers must say every day; they must thank their lucky stars for teenaged American boys. Teenaged American boys would be the only possible reason for bothering to overdub a 1992 Jackie Chan movie called Shuang long hui, or Twin Dragons, into English. Punching, kicking, slapstick comedy, and fabulous babes are the 4 things American boys love the best, and there's plenty of all of them in Twin Dragons. In fact, that's pretty much all there is.

Chan plays a pair of twins separated at birth (gee, that's a new concept), who don't know they had a twin until they meet by accident. One of them, Boomer, has become a street punk who loves to fight and is in trouble with some local gangsters. The other, John Ma, is a famous conductor scheduled to appear at a very important concert in Hong Kong. Boomer's girlfriend is Barbara (Maggie Cheung), a streetwise nightclub singer; John's is Tammy (Nina Li Chi), a classy girl whose father wants her to marry John. Needless to say, everyone gets the two men mixed up, and soon Boomer is on stage trying to conduct the philharmonic while John is attempting to fend off the fists and bullets of a bunch of angry bad guys. And the girlfriends get switched, too.

Mistaken identity is an old standard concept for comedies; many of Shakespeare's plays use it as the central theme. But there are clever ways to portray it and there are stupid ways, and Twin Dragons uses the latter. It is painfully clear throughout the film that if one or both of the characters would simply make a 5-minute explanation, all would be understood, but for some reason they both fail to tell anyone what's going on, protracting the unpleasantness for all concerned (especially the audience). Finally they decide to join forces and end up in a Mitsubishi plant, fighting for about an hour with the bad guys who are holding Boomer's friend Tyson (Teddy Robin Kwan) hostage.

If you look at this movie from an "it's so lame it's funny" standpoint, you're likely to enjoy it more. That was the only way I could convince myself not to walk out in the middle. Not only do the American voices fail miserably to match any mouth movements made by the Chinese cast, but the scenes with the double images of Chan are incredibly poorly executed. The fight finale in the auto plant is interminable; if it had been cut in half it still would have been too long — but that would have been at least a step in the right direction. I admit Chan's physical agility is amazing; his legendary acrobatics are used in full force. But not being a teenaged American boy (anymore) definitely hurt my ability to get much enjoyment out of this shallow fist-fest.

Copyright 1999 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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