Twin Dragons
(Shuang long hui) (1992)
Directed by Ringo Lam & Hark Tsui

Artistic Value: * *
Entertainment Value: * * *

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John Ma (Jackie Chan), a respected conductor and pianist, and Boomer (Jackie Chan), a martial artist and mechanic, are actually identical twins who were separated at birth. Shortly after the latter's best friend, Tyson (Teddy Robin), gets him into trouble with a vicious gangster, however, each of the two brothers is mistaken for the other. As a result, John is forced to drive a car for the mobster who is angry with Boomer, and begins to fall in love with Barbara (Maggie Cheung), the woman with whom Tyson is infatuated, while Boomer indulges in various sexual escapes with John's fiancée, although he also has to conduct a symphony, much to his horror.

Ringo Lam and Tsui Hark's Twin Dragons is a simple, goofy, but generally amusing action comedy.

For the most part, the film is humorous in tone. The directors reveal, for example, how each of the brothers is made to move in a particular way when the other is engaging in such movement. Thus, when John is playing a piano, Boomer's fingers begin twitching, and when Boomer is racing in a boat, John's body is thrown about. In other scenes, the two, although in the same room, attempt to convince John's fiancée that only John is there, Boomer gives an outlandishly energetic performance as a conductor, John, in terror, drives the vehicle being used to rescue a gangster from the police, and Boomer goes through the motions of fighting so that he can move John's body and thereby make him fight a man who is attacking him.

Happily, the film's action sequences are also generally entertaining, even if they are never inspired. Boomer's brawl in a crowded nightclub with an army of mobsters is well choreographed and exciting, and his and John's fight with more gangsters in an automobile factory is, at once, thrilling and genuinely funny. Even though the viewer may not be enthralled by any of these routines, he is likely to enjoy them.

The movie is, however, burdened with a fair number of faults. The characters are more caricatures than they are persons. Many of the scenarios depicted are completely forced, and much of the comedy is either rehashed or very lowbrow. Nonetheless, thanks largely to Chan's tremendous energy and ability to pull off virtually any physical gag with style, the film is never dull.

In fact, while I will hardly claim that Twin Dragons is an impressive accomplishment, or even that it is one of Chan's better efforts, it is a fun movie.

Review by Keith Allen

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