Finally, I conclude my “Worst Video Game Adaptation” Movie Marathon with . . .
Nothing on God’s green earth could have prepared me for this movie.
A long time ago, an ancient Chinese medallion gets split in half. One half of the medallion gives power over the body. The other half gives power over the soul. If you possess both halves, congratulations: you have, indeed, conquered the world. Naturally, this is what evil Koga Shuko (Robert Patrick) wants to do, and it’s up to orphaned, teenage brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee (Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos) to stop him.
1. Oh . . . my . . . God. This is a terrible movie, far more atrocious than anything I could have ever imagined. And I’ve never even played the game. As far as I can tell, the game and the film have absolutely nothing in common, but that’s not really even an issue here. Just on its own, this movie is so . . . freaking . . . bad.
2. The best thing this film has going for it is Robert Patrick.
I mean, come on. That is a Comic Con costume just asking to be made. (Actually, if you weren’t embarrassed to admit that you’d seen this film, it might be fun to do a group outing, although pity the girl who had to dress up as Marian.) Not entirely unlike Raul Julia in Street Fighter, Robert Patrick does his best to fully commit to the campiness of his character, and while he simply can’t quite beat out M. Bison flying around the room, screaming about being a god, Patrick does have a few genuinely funny lines that I, unfortunately, did not scribble down anywhere.
3. Admittedly, Double Dragon‘s storyline is dumb, but that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as you might expect. The actual dialogue, on the other hand, is a huge problem. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen dialogue quite this bad before. I mean, EVER.
See, I’m guessing that the Brothers Lee are supposed to be roughly sixteen years old. I don’t believe their actual ages are ever said, but they certainly couldn’t be mistaken for anything under that, and they can’t be adults yet—this is very much a “teens have to step up and save the world” movie (more on that later). So, let’s say sixteen.
This dialogue is not written for sixteen-year olds. Rather, it appears to have been written for ten year olds, and not terribly bright ten year olds at that. It’s the kind of movie that substitutes things like “butthead” for “asshole” or diarrhea jokes instead of sex jokes. I can’t think of a teenager in the entire world who would turn to his brother and say, completely seriously, “Let’s kick some butt!” Combine this with the constant high-fives and fist bumps, the exceptionally bad puns at almost every turn, and the incessant need to have your leads simultaneously and oh-so-comically scream—
—it’s grating almost to the point of being unwatchable. Whoever made this movie tried so hard to create a FAMILY FILM that they forgot to make anything funny, believable, or even remotely entertaining. The childish dialogue isn’t just bad, it’s jarring, and while even the best actors in the world couldn’t save it, the “funny faces” Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos pull the entire time certainly don’t help matters any.
4. What really gets me is that, according to imdb, this movie is rated a PG-13. What? Why? I know I was one of those kids who got to watch anything I wanted to shy of hardcore porn, but I simply do not understand why this warrants concern for anyone above the age of eight. Pg-13? Seriously?
5. Another thing I do not understand: what is Alyssa Milano wearing?
Usually, I enjoy the clothing from dystopian futures, but here? Here, not so much.
6. And yes, this movie takes place in a scary future where the quake of 2007 was so devastating that Los Angeles became New Angeles, and the cops allowed the gangs to take over the streets at night because at least they would have the manpower to protect the citizens during the day. Alyssa Milano plays the fashion-challenged, teenage Marian, who secretly leads her own gang, the PowerCorps, in an effort to defend the people from all the other really mean gangs that the cops (like her father) are too cowardly to get rid of.
In a related note, I imagine the cops said a big, “Fuck you,” to this movie. Even for pre-teen fantasy fluff, the cops are portrayed as pretty incompetent here.
7. Finally, remember those corny puns that I mentioned before? One of the worst ones is an awkwardly placed Who’s The Boss joke. You know, cause Alyssa Milano was in Who’s The Boss. And then she delivers her own hospital joke . . . to the actress who was in General Hospital.
Oy. Just . . . oy.
Okay, so Billy and Jimmy have been officially or unofficially adopted by Satori (Julia Nickson). She’s the woman that taught them martial arts. She’s also the one who’s been secretly responsible for hiding the dragon medallion all this time. Unfortunately, Shuko finds one half hidden in cave somewhere, the half that controls the soul.
Meanwhile, Satori gives the half that controls the body to Billy for safekeeping, which seems like an odd choice at first, considering that Billy appears to be the irresponsible brother who shouldn’t be trusted with anything. Later, however, he becomes the slightly more likable brother, considering he’s the one that doesn’t throw his sibling’s only photos of their dead adopted mother in a lake. But that’s for later.
After a quick lesson on the importance of the medallion, Shuko and his goon squad attack Satori and the boys. Shuko uses the soul-half to briefly possess Satori. Lots of silly fighting ensues, and Satori needlessly sacrifices her own life for Plot Development and Main Hero Angst. As far as Main Hero Angst goes, Scott Wolf seems to do a little better at it than Mark Dacascos . . . practice for Party of Five, I suppose. Though it does seem like Dacascos does more of the heavy lifting where the action is concerned. Billy seems to prefer running and jumping around, rather than actually fighting anybody.
Anyway, Billy and Jimmy eventually team up with Marian, and they do a lot more silly fighting together. Throughout the film, Billy keeps trying to get his half of the medallion to do something awesome, but it completely refuses to work . . . until he eventually tosses it away, saying that he doesn’t need it to defeat Shuko (who’s currently possessing Jimmy, naturally). Then the medallion finally kicks into gear, freezing in the air and flying back to him, all nifty powers fully functional. And while it all works out for the best, of course, I’m unclear as to why Billy needs to believe in himself to unlock the power of body, while an evil schmuck like Shuko just has to jam his fists together to unlock the power of soul. It seems unfair.
Anyway, Billy and Jimmy save the day (gaining nifty new uniforms in accordance with their awesome double dragon powers), Shuko is arrested (screaming, “You think I’m bad; you should see my lawyer!” like, UGH), Satori’s fucking ghost actually comes back for a quick blessing, and everyone lives happily ever after. Er, except Satori. She’s still dead.
Oh, and then there’s this guy:
. . . but it might be best just to forget about this guy entirely.
Ugh. I think my brain’s broken. That’s my conclusion.
Robert Patrick. Not that it’s saying much in a film like this.
Yes, I’m actually giving this a lower grade than Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. That’s a bad movie, but this is excruciating.
Believe in yourself. You can do it. Especially if you have an ancient Chinese magical medallion or two. That always helps.