Director James Yukich’s “Double Dragon” is a nineties anomaly that’s right up there with “Super Mario Bros: The Movie,” and “Street Fighter: The Movie.” It’s so deliriously awful and willingly misses the point of the source material it adapts, and yet it’s delightfully entertaining. As an artifact of the decade, it’s a fun tribute to everything 1990’s (Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf!), as a video game movie it’s a fascinating example of what not to do, and as an action movie it’s a serviceable amalgam of martial arts, comedy, science fiction, post apocalyptic fantasy, and chop socky schlock. If you can divorce yourself from the video game, “Double Dragon” works as a fascinating but entertaining botched cash in on a video game series that was so much better.
Based very loosely on the smash hit Nintendo video game, “Double Dragon” is set in the dystopian world of 2007, where crime lord Kaga Shuko is setting out to find the mystical Double Dragon medallion. It’s been split in two pieces and scattered; when assembled the medallion can grant the user amazing powers. When Kaga garners the powers of one piece, he can become the shadow monster which allows him to possess human. But he wants the other half. When brothers and martial artists Billy and Jimmy Lee learn their mentor and sensei Satori has been guarding the other half of the medallion for years, Kaga learns of the secret and seeks out the trio for the other half. After Satori dies, it’s up to the teenage brothers to avenge their master, and keep the other half safe while fulfilling their destinies.
The 1994 movie is watchable by virtue of sheer nostalgia, as it manages to depict everything that was so weird but fun about the nineties. From the frost hair, flat tops, and wild fashion, to the attempts to mimic films like “Robocop” and “Blade Runner” with a back drop that’s painfully hard to look at, and Alyssa Milano slumming it in goofy genre projects before her career resurgence in the late nineties. To worsen things, the production crew commits to an unpleasant aesthetic by turning every villain in to ugly freaks and mutants. Even Abobo is given a bizarre make over. The casting is also purely nothing but stunt casting with Scott Wolf barely able to sell his role as a martial artist, while Mark Dacascos is fairly misused.
There’s also Robert Patrick still riding high off his iconic role in “Terminator 2” That said, “Double Dragon” packs in some fun and hearty laughs, however unintentional they may be. Not to mention the direction from James Yukich adds some flair to a film that’s fairly unspectacular. Mark Dacascos was always such a fun and dynamic action star that Hollywood never knew what to do with and he gets a good spotlight in a movie where he might have shone brightly if paired with another action star with equal or superior skill. I doubt we’ll ever get another attempt at a feature adaptation, but “Double Dragon” has a ton of kitsch value and is so bad it’s quite good. It deserves a viewing for its unabashed embracing of the decade both excellent and awful.
Along with the DVD copy, there are alternate cover arts for collectors, as well as a special mini-poster. There’s a brand new feature length documentary called “The Making of Double Dragon” which features interviews with stars Scott Wolf and Marc Dacascos, writers Peter Gould & Michael Davis and producer Don Murphy. There’s a brand new featurette called “Don Murphy: Portrait of a Producer” which explores the career of Don Murphy. There’s a vintage “Making Of” featurette, and a vintage Behind the Scenes featurette. As an added treat there’s the original pilot episode of the 1993 “Double Dragon” animated series entitled “The Shadow Falls.” There’s a storyboard gallery, press photos, a marketing gallery, and finally a Behind the Scenes photo gallery. There are a slew of TV Spots, the original VHS home video trailer, and finally the original theatrical trailer.