Review: Twin Dragons aka Brother vs. Brother (Hong Kong 1992)

Twin Dragons is simultaneously very stupid and very fun.  The tale of two brothers, separated at birth and both played by Jackie Chan, is both a cross-cultural fish-out-of-water tale and a rollicking action flick.  It’s not one of the better Jackie Chan films and, in some respects, signposted some of his weaker efforts to come, but is still packed with breathtaking stunts and innovative fight scenes.

No one is winning any awards for acting here – Jackie plays John Ma, the gentrified piano prodigy raised in New York, and Boomer, the Hong Kong hoodlum, so indistinguishably that they might as well be the same character, but none of that really matters.  What matters is that the Three’s Company level farce and identity confusions are played just entertainingly enough to spice up the scenes in between Jackie delivering severe but lighthearted beatdowns to an ever-increasing army of thugs and character actors.

The identity mix-ups are also played as a sex farce, with each brother taking up with a woman who thinks he is the other brother – a nightclub singer played by Maggie Cheung and a nurse played by Nina Li Chi (Jet Li’s wife).  Sadly, the part is a waste of Cheung’s talents, much like the Police Story movies.

More interesting is the directing talent both in front of and behind the camera.  Twin Dragons is co-directed by legends Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam, and is full of cameo appearances by the greatest of Hong Kong directors, including Lam and Hark themselves, John Woo (The Killer, Hard Boiled), Chu Yuan (The Sentimental Swordsman, Killer Clans), Lau Kar Leung (36th Chamber of Shaolin, Heroes from the East).  This isn’t even close to Lam or Hark’s best effort, but the joy in the filmmaking is palpable.

Rating: 2 1/2 out of 4 Stars (Good).

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