• Double Dragon (MVD Rewind Collection) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: MVD Rewind Collection
    Released on: January 22nd, 2019.
    Directed by: James Yukich
    Cast: Mark Dacascos, Scott Wolf, Alyssa Milano, Robert Patrick, Julia Nickson
    Year: 1994
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    Double Dragon – Movie Review:


    You wouldn’t necessarily think that 1994’s Double Dragon was from a producer of the Transformers movies and one of the writers of Breaking Bad, but there you go. This infamously awful action film meant to cash in on the success of the popular arcade game franchise but it was, quite understandably, panned by critics upon its release. Still, it’s developed a cult following over the years, and upon revisiting it, you can see why. It’s colorful, occasionally pretty funny, and it’s full of bizarre characters and over the top action sequences.

    The movie is set in the future of 2007 where earthquakes have ravaged Los Angeles and turned it into a wasteland where the news is delivered by George Hamilton, Vanna White and Andy Dick (all playing themselves). Here the villainous Koga Shuko (Robert Patrick of Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Hellions) hopes to find the second half of a mystic talisman dubbed ‘The Double Dragon’ in hopes that, by doing so, he’ll gain the powers that he needs to take over the city. He’s already got one half, and has a small army of henchmen, led by whip-savvy Linda Lash (Kristina Wagner of General Hospital) out looking for the second. Little does he realize, for the first chunk of the film at least, that it’s in the possession of Jimmy Lee (Mark Dacascos of Brotherhood Of The Wolf and Only The Strong) and his brother Billy (Scott Wolf of Party Of Five), two teenaged martial artists raised by their mysterious guardian Satori (Julia Nickson of Rambo: First Blood Part II).

    At any rate, on the way home from a martial arts tournament, they run into some trouble with a gang of punks led by Bo Abobo (Nils allen Stewart of Hot Wax Zombies On Wheels and The Scorpion King) but are thankfully saved by Maria (Alyssa Milano of Whose The Boss and, of course, Commando and Embrace Of The Vampire) and her crew. When Koga Shuko finds out that they have the other half of the medallion, he launches an all-out assault on the brothers to get it – but will his wacky powers be enough to defeat their wacky powers, and what’s up with Bo Abobo?

    Misguided and goofy are two words that come to mind when revisiting this slice of mid-nineties nonsense. Now, granted, you’d be foolish to expect high art from a movie based on an arcade game that you could more or less complete once you mastered the art of the elbow (the vaunted arcade machine even makes an appearance towards the end of the movie), but even by some pretty low standards Double Dragon is a mess. Where do we start? Dacascos has moves aplenty and is a legitimately talented martial arts performer but here he is a veritable sinkhole of charisma. He fights well but his acting is… rough. Wolf does fare better, he plays the mouthier, smart aleck of the bunch, but the dialogue is so hokey that, well, it doesn’t matter. Robert Patrick could have veen confused for much of the film, likely wondering what he was doing there, but he chews the scenery well enough. Alyssa Milano, to her credit, is actually just fine as the guys’ spunky ally… despite some unfortunate wardrobe choices. It’s amusing to see Julia Nickson in a supporting role here, particularly when, later in the film, her head appears above our heroes surrounded by sparkly stars.

    The effects aren’t great, but they’re serviceable enough. The action is nearly constant, and well-choreographed. The humor is more likely to make you groan than to laugh, but the movie does have a lot of energy. Sure, it looks like the product of a twelve-year-old-boy’s prepubescent fever dream – it’s garish as fuck and often dayglo colored – but for all the film’s many and obvious flaws if you’re in the right frame of mind for it, Double Dragon is entertaining in its relentless stupidity.

    Double Dragon – Blu-ray Review:

    Double Dragon arrives on Blu-ray on a 50GB disc in an AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. Minor print damage is present throughout but there’s nothing too major here, certainly nothing all that distracting. Detail advances over DVD for sure, but it never reaches the upper echelon of what the format can provide here. Colors look good, the film’s garish color scheme is reproduced well enough, and black levels are decent if a step away from reference quality. Compression artifacts aren’t a problem and the image is free of obvious noise reduction or edge enhancement. It’s clear that this wasn’t given any sort of fancy restoration, but it’s decent transfer, if never reference quality.

    Audio options are offered in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, English Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, and German Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo with optional subtitles offered in English, French and Spanish. There’s no lossless option provided here. The audio here is fine, even if it doesn’t take full advantage of what Blu-ray can offer. Dialogue is clean, clear and easy to understand and there are no problems with any hiss or distortion to complain about.

    The main extra on the disc is a sixty-seven-minute documentary on the history of the film entitled, appropriately enough, The Making Of Double Dragon. This is made up of some genuinely interesting interviews with actors Scott Wolf and Marc Dacascos, writers Peter Gould and Michael Davis and one of the film’s producers, Don Murphy. This piece is pretty solid – the writing team talk extensively about how they were brought on board, how the initial story was penned by Paul Dini (of Batman: The Animated Series) and Neal Shusterman, what they had to change and why, working with the producers and director and more. Dacascos and Wolf share some amusing stories about how they landed their respective parts, what it was like on set, their thoughts on their characters and having to shoot some of the action sequences. Murphy talks about working with Imperial Entertainment on the project, his thoughts on the film’s director and more. Throughout we also hear about some of the different actors that pop up in the film, the effects, how the film has a connection to Shoot’em Up, Robert Patrick’s response to the finished film, the set pieces and plenty of other related topics. It’s interesting stuff and everyone involved here is quite honest about all of this.

    MVD also includes the twenty-four-minute Don Murphy: Portrait Of A Producer featurette that, as you’d guess from the title, covers Don Murphy’s work as a producer in the film industry, starting with how he got into the business fresh out of film school. He’s had a hand in some interesting projects over the years, not just Double Dragon but bigger films like Natural Born Killers, League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen and the Transformers franchise. It’s interesting that Double Dragon did serve as a launching pad of sorts for him and as this plays out we learn how he got into the business and how he became so successful in it.

    MVD has also dug up an archival making of featurette that runs just over four-minutes and an archival behind the scenes featurette (basically just a random assemblage of fly on the wall style BTS material) that also runs just over four-minutes. These are both tape-sourced and very promotional in nature but you get to see some vintage interviews with the cast and crew including Milano and Patrick who aren’t in any of the newer featurettes.

    In addition to all of that, the disc also includes the 1993 Double Dragon cartoon series pilot episode The Shadow Falls. The basic idea here is that Jimmy and Billy were twins separated at birth, with Bill raised by a good guy martial arts teacher called The Oldest Dragon and Jimmy raised by the Shadow Master, clearly not a good guy. Jimmy grows up to be The Shadow Boss, also a bad guy, but when The Shadow Master stabs him in the back, he joins up with his good guy brother and becomes a Dragon Warrior and the pair do battle against The Shadow Master and his cronies. It’s goofy, goofy stuff – they have dragon tattoos on their chest that glow and gives them special powers or something. Still, it’s an entertaining little slice of nostalgia that fans of the franchise will no doubt appreciate. This episode runs twenty-two-minutes.

    Rounding out the extras on the disc is a storyboard gallery, still galleries showing off press photos as well as marketing and behind the scenes photos, a VHS home video trailer, a few TV spots, the film’s original theatrical trailer and bonus trailers for a few other MVD properties. Menus and chapter selection are also included on the disc.

    As far as the packaging goes, this release also comes bundled with a DVD version of the movie inside the clear keepcase that also holds a collectible mini-poster and some keen reversible cover sleeve art.

    Double Dragon – The Final Word:

    Double Dragon is ninety-five-minutes of action-packed gobbledygook! It isn’t good, but it is an entertaining mess of a film. MVD gives it a respectable looking transfer one a disc stacked with extra features covering its history with some great behind the scenes stories. Absolute nonsense to be sure, but there’s fun to be had here if you’re in the right frame of mind for it.

    Click on the images below for full sized Double Dragon Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. paul h.'s Avatar
      paul h. -
      This sounds like its terrible, which is right up my alley! Love that last screen grab.