Do you have any appreciation for the Double Dragon series? If the answer is yes, you should avoid this movie adaptation at all costs.
Following up the Super Mario Bros. movie should be easy. After all, the film was universally panned for its bad special effects, poor acting, nonsensical story and for having no elements that fans of the games would recognize. Despite the poor track record of games made into movies, Hollywood insisted on working on yet another adaptation. This time around, they decided to focus on Double Dragon and let me tell you that if you have any appreciation for the games, you should avoid this movie at all costs.
First, a little background. Legend says that in ancient China, an emperor sacrificed his own life to create a powerful medallion that could be used to defeat the evils that terrorized his empire. The medallion, which is known as Double Dragon, symbolizes the emperor’s two sons. According to the same legend, the person who manages to obtain of both halves of the medallion will receive the power of the soul and the body, making that person invincible. Welcome to the fascinating world of Double Dragon.
A crime lord owns half of the medallion and he’s willing to do anything in his power to retrieve the other half. What he ignores is that the other part of the powerful object is in the hands of teenage martial artists, Jimmy and Billy Lee and they aren’t exactly thrilled about giving their precious memento to random gang members. Jimmy and Billy are two of the most one-dimensional characters to ever grace a film. Billy is immature and his childish behavior gets his brother in trouble. Jimmy, on the other hand, is really mature and always thinks twice before making a decision.
The film takes place in the city of New Los Angeles (quick tip, you know it’s the future when the city has the word “New” in front) after a devastating earthquake has destroyed the world as we know it. When the sun sets, criminals infest the streets of New L.A. and gangs like “The Mohawks” rule the city. The futuristic take on the series feels completely unnecessary and does Double Dragon a disservice not only because it doesn’t add anything meaningful to the universe, but also because it completely ignores already established elements. This is definitely one of those cases where the film says Double Dragon in the title, but it could have been called almost anything and it wouldn’t have made a difference.
Apart from the terrible story, there’s bad acting, laughable special effects, terrible dialogue, repetitive music and a plot that doesn’t make a lot of sense. But there’s more: there are random references to the games, actors who keep yelling random phrases near the camera (maybe that’s their idea of acting,) contrived action sequences and a terrible sense of humor and well… I guess you get the point. Also when a character ends a fight they use silly one-liners and I almost forgot about the car called the “Dragon Wagon.” All the nonsense is tied together by random fights where the goal isn’t to defeat the opponent, but to ridicule them. Did I mention that there are mutants? And that the person who uses the talisman transforms into a ghost that can take the form of any other person?
I don’t know what anybody in this film was thinking, but Double Dragon is something that was shown in theaters and I’m forced to qualify it with stars according to its quality. But regardless of the score, I can’t understand how anyone could enjoy watching something like this and that statement comes from somebody who watches a lot of bad movies on purpose. If you’re like me and you watch b-movies for fun, you’d be wise to stay as far away as you can from this one.