Power and Destiny: 'Double Dragon Review
Released a year before Paul W.S. Anderson’s Mortal Kombat, Double Dragon is a really interesting attempt to bring a video game to cinematic life. The problem is that this film never truly knows what it wants to be.
The film, which is based on the video game of the same name, follows a trio of teens as they are chased by dangerous villains led by Robert Patrick’s scenery chomping Koga Shoku. The year is 2007, and Los Angeles is now an earthquake crippled city that is a combination of a dystopian society, Waterworld and a place for gangs all dressed as 1980s punks; almost like something out of Class of 1984. Shoku, a nefarious and evil businessman, is after the legendary Double Dragon medallion – which he believes will make him all powerful. Aside from seeing Patrick chew scenery like nobody’s business, this early video game film also stars a pretty diverse cast of '90s stars including Scott Wolf, Alyssa Milano, George Hamilton as himself and Andy Dick.
There’s an inherent level of camp that Double Dragon gleefully embraces from its opening sequence (which looks like something out of the Mortal Kombat movie) which tells the origin of the Double Dragon medallion. Directed by James Yukich, the film has a very old school adventure feel that doesn’t quite mesh up with the post-apocalyptic scenery or the bizarre cyberpunk aesthetic that it takes. There’s a scene where one of the punks who’s chasing Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos, who play brothers in the film, but after he fails, Shoku decides to mutate him, and the result is one of the strangest visuals or decisions of this entire film. Let’s just say he ends up looking like Bib Fortuna from Return of the Jedi crossed with one of the characters from David Lynch’s Dune. But regarding the adventure feel is where the movie succeeds the most because some of the action sequences, including the hand to hand combat, aren't particularly well shot or visually dynamic.
Without a doubt, one of the best elements of the film is Robert Patrick. There’s a knowing self-awareness in his performance that pushes him overboard and into a performance that is so over the top that it becomes one of the reasons to watch this - if not then it's more like the only reason. He knows that he’s so over the top that its almost like he flat out said, "you know what I’m just going to chew the hell out of this scenery, " and that’s exactly what he does and it’s pretty hilarious to watch.
Other than that, Double Dragon is a fun, schlocky B movie but it’s not a particularly good film. It's fun if you enjoy it with some friends and laugh at it but other than that, I’d still pick the Mortal Kombat movie as a much better example of '90s video game adaptations. There are some fun moments, and Robert Patrick is having a ton of fun, but it just doesn’t come together at all as a cohesive adaptation or as the genre-bending film that it’s aspiring to be.