Double Dragon (1994)


I don’t know how the hell you screw up “Double Dragon.” It’s a beat em up video game set in the future where two warriors Jimmy and Billy (or Bimmy if you’ve played the video game) have to save their girlfriend from a humongous crime syndicate. There could have been so much to go on with this concept, and it might have made for a wicked great apocalyptic action film. Instead, much like “Mortal Kombat,” it’s neutered for kids, and sucked of all of its originality. Even at eleven years old I knew “Double Dragon” sucked. And I liked everything, back then. Even the Marvel Comics mini-series had more of a toothy, edgy vision of the video games than this movie did.

Taking from the original video game, the studios cast Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf as the martial arts fighting brothers. That’s an odd pairing if I’ve ever seen one. Even at eleven years old, I knew Scott Wolf wasn’t a convincing action star. Set in the futuristic world of 2007, the crime lord Kaga Shuko sets out to find the mystical Double Dragon medallion, that’s been split in two pieces. When assembled, the medallion can grant its users story convenient powers. When Kaga garners the powers, he can become a shadow monster and possess the human soul, but wants the other piece. Hell, I’d be happy with one half if I was able to garner those abilities, but evil equals greedy. Billy and Jimmy learn their mentor Satori is actually not who she seems and has guarded the other half of the medallion for years, prompting Kaga to seek the trio out and take the other half for himself.

Now the brothers have to keep the other half safe, while trying to re-claim Kaga’s half, that when combined gives them a glittering pair of costumes and powers. What powers? I don’t know, just powers, I guess. “Double Dragon” doesn’t even seem to take itself seriously with its odd casting and awkward unfunny meta-storytelling that attempt to mimic “RoboCop” wholesale. This makes it an unpleasant often ugly film that never really embraces its martial arts action roots. Instead it’s merely a slapstick futuristic adventure with two goofy brothers that learn to come together to defeat Robert Patrick and his bleached flattop. There’s also Alyssa Milano with a short doo, and Abobo, who is turned in to a deformed freak, for reasons I can’t fathom.

There’s also satire on consumerism, celebrity culture, and class warfare, all of which have no place in a movie based on a game about two guys beating the crap out of people to get their girlfriend back. The martial arts takes a back seat for the most part, giving way to an over abundance of slapstick, and convoluted storytelling that never adds up to anything except for the promise of a sequel. A sequel I’m glad never happened. Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf are only a few performers in the movie woefully miscast for what I wish was a straight faced attempt to use the source material as fodder for a great storyline. Dacascos and Wolf don’t even look like brothers, and their forced chemistry fails at every turn. When all is said and done, you’re better off just playing the original video games, and calling it a day. “Double Dragon” is proof positive there will never be a good movie based on a video game.