Double Dragon (1994), or This IS The 90’s!

28 01 2009
Oh, man. This movie is so nostalgic I think Im turning into a 7 year old

Oh, man. This movie is so nostalgic I think I'm turning into a 7 year old!

Well, everyone, it’s the end of 90’s Week, as voted by you, the people. It could have been 80’s Week, it could have been 00’s Week, it could have been 20’s Week. But, no. You have expressed yourself in the most American way possible; with a cheap internet poll. With all the outpouring of support for this, I might try to make this a monthly occurrence. Let it be known throughout the land that I am a generous internet kingpin, and I respect your opinions, my people. So I felt I had to end this with a bang. And so I scoured the continents, grasping the farthest corners of the earth for the most 90’s-ist of all movies. And I do believe after years of searching that I have found it. This has everything; the clothes, the hair, the 90’s rad-guitar soundtrack accompaniment, and Allysa Milano! I can’t even appropriately explain how fitting this movie is of it’s decade. It is beyond mere words. To minimize my embarrassment due to the impotence of my words, I will only say that this movie is for the 90’s what The Last Dragon is for the 80’s.

Double Dragon… Where have I heard that title before? Is that an entrée at my local Thai buffet? A musky body wash that leaves you smelling like a monitor lizard? The special “massage” I can get for $95 downtown at Madam Chin’s Spa? Why, no! It’s a popular NES video game from the late 80’s! It’s a standard punch-up where you control twin brothers named Jimmy and Billy and kick the asses of anyone in your way to save the girl and kill the boss. If you’re a fan of the story of the game series, well… I am so sorry. This has nothing really to do with any of that.

So, okay, it is the not too distant future. A mysterious figure named Koga Shuko desires a mysterious medallion that claims mysterious world-conquering powers. His grasp extends all over the world, and when he hears of the medallion being in China he sends a group of ninjas after it. His men find the medallion’s protectors, kill them, but find that only half of the medallion rests there. Meanwhile, after the big earthquake of 2007 (remember that one?) Los Angeles is in ruins. The city, now named ‘New Angeles’, is slow to recover. The street gangs are stronger than ever, to the point that the LAPD has made a truce with them that the police will keep the peace during the day but after nightfall the gangs will keep their own peace. Billy and Jimmy are two teenage brothers living in New Angeles trying to keep their noses clean amidst all the post-apocalyptic scum-baggery going on around them. Guided by their caretaker, the lovely Satori, the two brothers use their martial arts skills to win money in tournaments. One night, they all find themselves out on the street after nightfall and run into a gang. One of the members sees an article of jewelry on Satori that looks rather interesting; it is the missing half of the medallion. After Billy and Jimmy outwit them and escape, the leader of the gang reports to his boss, who is of course Koga Shuko. Will Shuko find the brothers and beat the medallion out of them? Or will the brothers persevere and defeat Shuko, all the while learning more and more about the mysterious medallion emblazoned with twin dragons that has fallen into their grasp?

Did you catch all that? Let me grab my breath… *gasp* Okay. So, with that said, this movie is obviously geared towards a younger audience. I actually mentioned this movie briefly in my Whale Rider review, citing it as a film that was packaged for my 7 to 10 year old self. Watching this, it becomes very apparent that most “grown-ups” are clueless here. The fate of the world is put into the hands of children and teens, who, although in real life would shiver and fall to the ground when faced with such a grave decision, are more than up to the task here and actually shame all of the adults who ever tried to deal with the problem with their puny adult prowess.

Let’s face it, this movie sucks. For kids, for adults, for zygotes. It’s a lame adaptation of a game made by people who knew what they were doing but thought that name recognition and totally dope computer graphics would carry the endeavor. The soundtrack is comprised of totally wicked guitar licks and vague ominous tones that don’t exactly get my blood going. The costume design is incomprehensible. I can’t even understand what they were thinking. You’ll just have to see it to believe it. Paul Dini wrote the screenplay for fuck’s sake! THE Paul Dini! He is so good! And this screenplay is trash! Imagine if Sir Laurence Olivier, somewhere between Marathon Man and A Bridge Too Far, had starred in a hard-core porn. That is the level of confusion that plagues me with Dini.

The actors are simply ridiculous. Allysa Milano is a tough, street-wise teen who is slightly endearing. She gets a free pass for all the horrible, saggy 90’s outfits she had to wear because that was the cool thing to do, but try not to laugh in her face if she ever brings that stuff out nowadays. Scott Wolf  and Mark Dacascos are respectively Billy and Jimmy. They make the video game look subtle and nuanced comparatively. Their chemistry is pretty bland, and I was not a fan of them and their “hilarious” dysfunctional in-fighting. But maybe this was a career harbinger for them, because Scott has since fizzled out in Hollywood and Mark is screaming the names of cooking ingredients at audiences as The Chairman on Iron Chef America! “Today’s special ingredient is…EMBARRASSMENT!”

Robert Patrick is Koga Shuko. I bet you thought maybe it was Sonny Chiba or Sho Kosugi or someone less… white. But no! Robert Patrick, with his first high profile post-T2 role, sports a bleach-blond flat-top(!!!) as Koga Shuko. Oh, by the way from now on I’m changing my name from Eric to Shigehiro Ozawa. That doesn’t sound strange to you, does it?

I know you think I may have overly high standards and that I’m picking unnecessarily on a movie which came and went in theaters innocently enough and has ceased to cause America further misery. But this was a taste of what every kid went to see back in the 90’s. Most movies were just like this; low on thought and interesting plot situations, high on action and special effects. I never had an option for movies like Whale Rider, and instead was spoon-fed this tripe. And if someone has to go up onto a cross for this fact, it might as well be a spectacular offender. I will say that I found this one to be terribly unintentionally funny, not laughing at any of the comedic cues but instead laughing at the more dramatic moments. So if you think Southland Tales was funny, you are in for a treat with this one. Other than that, be prepared for a 90 minute 90’s groan-fest. I give Double Dragon 3 bleach-blond flat-tops out of 10.

That’s it for 90’s Week! See you tomorrow, where we talk about The Big Sleep. Until then!