Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Double Dragon (1994)

I'll start with an important PSA: if you're the kind of person who loves mind-boggingly, bewildering stupid and terrible movies (in other words, a person like me), then you should ignore that "Not Recommended" tag and hunt down a copy of Double Dragon immediately.  It is a film of sublime and surprising awfulness.

It's not surprising that it is awful, of course.  The words "Let's make a Double Dragon movie." never had a high chance of leading anywhere good.  But the form of its awfulness ... this is a film that continually finds someway to "top" its last most of random stupidity with an event even more random and stupid.

So for those of you too young to remember it, the plot of the the Double Dragon arcade game was very simple: bad guys kidnap the woman you love, so you beat them up until you get her back.  I suspect the movie's problems began when someone said "That's not enough of a plot."  Which is nonsense.  It's a perfectly serviceable plot for a film.  Make it paternal rather than romantic love, and you have the lynchpin of Liam Neeson's recent career.

But for some reason, it was felt that the adaptation of a game that was all about fighting bad guys should be about something else entirely.  What should that something else be?  As far as I can tell, the writers tried to answer that question while locking themselves in a room with a copy of The Warriors and a whole pile of drugs.  The result is mesmerisingly bad.  Wildly uneven characterisation.  Awkward attempts to be a PG-rated Robocop (with 10% of the budget, if the effects are anything to go by).  Sudden diversions into Looney Tunes-esque physical comedy.  Magic martial arts powers that are inspired more by Street Fighter than anything in the Double Dragon game.  Street gangs that work shifts you can set your watch to.  Street gangs on unicycles.

I'm not going to bother trying to explain the plot, beyond "there's a magic amulet and everyone is fighting over it", because frankly none of it makes a lick of sense anyway, and it really needs to be experienced to be believed.

Astonishingly, wonderfully awful.

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