We dial it back to 1994 with Double Dragon and a simpler time when the comic book and video game adaptations to the big screen are a little goofy and excessively colourful. Sure it’s silly, but it owns it and works even now some 25 years later as that blend that takes us from something kiddie and something a touch more adult.
It’s the year 2007, and what remains of L.A. is now branded as “New Angeles”, a city that has been ravaged by earthquakes, tidal waves and vicious gangs. High above the city, the evil tycoon Koga Shuko (Robert Patrick) is obsessed with finding the two halves of a talisman known as the “Double Dragon” which will give him awesome mystical powers.
Two teenage brothers Jimmy (Mark Dacascos) and Billy Lee (Scott Wolf) find themselves in possession of the amulet’s missing half, thrusting them into the adventure of their lives. With the help of Maria (Alyssa Milano) and her vigilante group “The Power Corps”, Jimmy and Billy must summon all of their courage, resourcefulness and martial arts skills to stop Koga Shuko’s malevolent plan.
While the air of nostalgia on this one is heavy and hardly easy to shake, there’s something about Double Dragon that still actually works as it is a film that actually gives us a lot of rich and relatable material to work with but with a gentle smattering of kid-friendly humor. The execution isn’t always the best, but the ideas inside of it are actually pretty strong.
Director James Yukich had a plethora of music video experience before coming to this which was his first feature and it keeps him on a pretty safe platform while assembling this high-octane very colourful film as he didn’t necessarily need to make it work from the script but he could from a visual standpoint. The execution of the ideas and the relationships wasn’t super sharp but there was a very honest nature to it that allowed us as an audience to overlook the occasional rough patch in the narrative road.
The script is decent, but given how there were different credits for both the story and the screenplay a little dysfunction makes a little sense. That being said, had they tried to make this more of a ‘serious’ affair it really wouldn’t have played very well and it needed to be silly for it to actually happen. It does try a little too hard to please all audiences at times and has some logic holes as it makes some interesting choices but it is at least a Nobel attempt. There wasn’t a lot in this movie that worked exceptionally well but it’s got very strong elements that are hard to look away from thanks to some strong leads.
Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos are solid as the fresh faced leads and with the tone of the movie keeping these two as baby face good guys actually plays into the material a little better now on retrospect. This wouldn’t have worked if it had gone a little too goofy or a little too serious but allows for some honest rounded edges as these characters have to deal with some real world stuff in the grander underlining story it still has a joie de vivre about it which makes it accessible for all.
Robert Patrick is having fun chewing the scenery while Alyssa Milano actually works as a fun female character that is empowered and strong.
The picture quality is surprising clean here thanks to a new High-Def transfer of the film yet it still very obviously dated (it’s a huge upgrade from the EP VHS that many of us no doubt watched when we were young, so it’s genuinely hard to complain). There’s an English 5.1 Surround Sound track, along with an English and German 2.0 Stereo mix with subtitles in English, Spanish and French.
The special features on this disc are really where are friends at the MVD Rewind Collection have truly outdone themselves.
There’s a “The Making of Double Dragon” which clocks in at 67 min long featuring notes and reflections on the production from writers Michael Davis & Peter Gould, Producer Don Murphy and stars Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos. It’s an honest special feature where everyone involved is seemingly admitting that this was far from the best film in the world, but it still actually had a lot of positive stuff in it.
“Don Murphy: A Portrait of a Producer” is a 24 minute look behind the scenes at how this film ultimately went from video game to feature film.
The disc also includes ‘The Shadow Falls” animated pilot of the Double Dragon cartoon as well as Vintage Behind The Scenes and Making of featurettes. There’s also stills from behind the scenes, conceptual artwork, storyboards, press clippings and from the movie itself.
You can also see two Double Dragon theatrical trailers, a VHS trailer, and two TV spots along with other trailers from the MVD Rewind Collection like Angel Town, Black Eagle, Man From Earth, Out of Time, Raven & Return of Swamp Thing.
I’ll admit that I am as surprised to say this as you might be to hear but, Double Dragon is shelf worthy. Sure there’s an undeniable level of nostalgia colouring this critics rose coloured glasses but it kind of works as a fun more family oriented affair rather than a hard and true action flick.