Billy and Jimmy Lee are just a couple of martial arts bros. Little do they know that they are destined to protect the Double Dragon medallion from falling into the hands of evil. Can they stop the eeevil Koga Shuko from getting both pieces of the medallion and taking over New Angeles before it’s too late? Find out in… Double Dragon.
How?! Jimmy and Billy are just a couple of bros living it up in the post-apocalyptic punk/crime world of New Angeles where you best not be found out at night or one of the many street gangs might get ya. Orphans, they are taken care of by Satori, a former work colleague (?!) of their dad, who teaches them martial arts. The entire conceit of the film revolves around a magic medallion that they are destined to protect. The medallion is broken into two parts of the Double Dragon, one piece that allows control over the body and the other that allows control over the spirit. The eeeeevil Koga Shuko has obtained one, but wants both in order to control the world. Realizing that the second piece must be with Satori, he attacks them and kills her, but Billy and Jimmy are able to flee with their piece of the medallion. Using the power of his half of the medallion, Koga combines all the gangs in the city into one giant gang (can you dig it?) in order to find Jimmy and Billy. After a couple narrow escapes they figure that their only shot is to join up with a vigilante gang called the Power Corps that love to stop gang violence, rollerblade, and play video games (duh). Rollerblading their way over to Koga’s HQ they confront him, but are defeated and Jimmy is taken captive. Koga then attacks the Power Corps and a climactic battle ensues that is super rad and in no way terrible and lame. During the battle Billy rescues Jimmy from Koga and they are able to karate chop him a whole bunch and fulfil their destiny of dressing up in silly clothes, calling themselves Double Dragon, and riding around in a dumb car with a monster person (oh, I forgot to mention, there’s a monster person in this). THE END.
Why?! MacGuffin Alert! Our boy Koga is corrupted by power. The power of the Medallion. He was there when the Medallion was uncovered in an archeological dig and tried to get it for himself. Basically he just wants to rule the world using the perfect MacGuffin. As for our heroes, they are mostly naive and only know that they have to stop Koga and avenge the death of their father and Satori. Eventually they realize their destiny is to protect the Dongl…er, I mean, the Medallion. So now they just gotta battle evil and ride around in a ghostbusters car.
Who?! As mentioned below they chose to not have the Lee Brothers be twins in this adaptation, which is horseshit. There were a few cameos as part of some RoboCop-esque news reports featuring George Hamilton, Vanna White, and Andy Dick. Finally, there was only one strange Thanks credit and that was to the Cleveland Indians. I couldn’t recall anything in the film that would require thanking the Indians, but found in my deep research that some of the cast threw out the first pitch at a game… so I guess that means you get thanked at the end of the film.
What?! For every video game film we do I’m required by law to state the obvious, which is that the film itself is a product placement for the video game (and vice versa in a weird way). Interestingly this film also actually does have a product placement for the video game as the arcade version is prominently featured in the climactic fight (which raises all kinds of questions that the film was not equipped to answer). As for props, I obviously would have loved to find the Medallion, but alas, it’s probably lost to the sands of time. In fact I couldn’t find any listings for props from this film for sale. I can only assume that Scott Wolf still has them all.
Where?! Very nice setting here as Los Angeles has been transformed into New Angeles following the destruction of most of the city by earthquakes, war, and rising seas. It even goes out of its way to show you many sights and sounds of Los Angeles in varied states of destruction. Could this have been set in Miami or NYC? Probably, but still pretty solid. B+.
When?! Second film in a row that takes place in a far future that has already passed. In this case it’s the far future of 2007. Getting more specific than that is difficult. I tried to keep my eyes peeled for something more, but couldn’t find it. I did catch both Jimmy and Billy Lee’s birthdays, which only confirmed that they were indeed not twins… very disappointing. Still gets an OK grade because I like to reward when they provide a specific year in the future. B
After a murderer’s row of BMT films to start to year I feel like we’ve settled in for a series of interesting films. This film got me thinking a lot about video game films because this really didn’t feel anything like Double Dragon. They chose instead to steer towards a RoboCop, Warriors, Escape from New York, etc. etc. etc. post-apocalyptic cityscape punk action film. The exact same mistake Super Mario Brothers made the year before. It’s almost like in the early days of adapting video games they fished around for a genre that was hot and then forced the property to conform. As far as the film specifically, the beginning was actually interesting to look at and I was shocked to find myself somewhat engaged for the first hour. Sure it fell face-first into every single trope and cliche in the book, but it looked all kooky with crazy makeup and matte painting and giant gasoline explosions and I was kinda having fun. Then the last thirty minute happened. The end of this film could actually be the worst thing I’ve ever seen. If they could have finished it without falling flat on their faces I could have imagined it being a cult film of sorts. Instead it’s a (rejected) worst film of all time. Patrick?
‘Ello everyone! Jamie and I peering into Double Dragon and realized our destiny: to become karate twins! Who knew this was an actual job you could have? Thanks guidance counselors. Let’s go!
P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t remember much about the film, maybe just catching the boat chase scene every so often and every time just thinking how much it looked like crap (kind of a crazy set though). Along with Super Mario Bros. this film exemplified how poorly the early adaptations of video games went. For some reason they would just like … throw the idea of the film in the trash in favor of post-apocalyptic nonsense. In both of them! It is pretty nuts.
The Good – The beginning of this film is a lot better than I think people give it credit for. It can kind of be described in one word: quaint. It harkens back to when a film like this (or RoboCop, we’ll get to that in a second) could be made, where all of the world building is like: there was an apocalypse, then the gangs from The Warriors took over, but in like … a funny way you know? It is kind of like they were trying to put the horror film formula into a video game mold, film this thing on a budget, and hope the fans come out. They didn’t and it was a financial disaster. Alyssa Milano was kind of amazingly good (also very game for the crazy getup she had to wear during the entire film).
The Bad – Let’s set aside the fact that this film looks objectively like crap. The trailer itself told you that much. Let’s start with the most obvious issue with the film, that the last twenty minutes are just nuts. They are having a big rumble in a warehouse which houses the good gang run by Milano. There is a Double Dragon arcade. There are multiple body swaps. There is a very dramatic scene with the police officers refusing to police the city at night. And there are just problematic fight choreography involving cutting whips, and paint cans, and it really might be the worst martial arts movie ever. The last twenty minutes of this film is a catastrophe. But the biggest crime of the film? That the best part of it, the fake news stories giving us the backstory of New Angeles, is a complete and utter ripoff of RoboCop. Which means you can’t even enjoy that! For shame Double Dragon, for shame.
The BMT – Absolutely. I think it isn’t a bad goal to complete the Bad Movie Arcade, just run the gauntlet of all video game films ever made. And this one is probably in the top 10 as far as video game cred. So it had to be done. I think it also gives you a lot to chew on, has some interesting hot takes (like that it is decent outside of the third act), and is a good tag team with Super Mario Bros. Not much more to ask for there.
Roast-radamus – I don’t think Abobo is a Planchet, although he is something else (like, the ultra dumb bad guy who gets redemption in the end). It probably is a What? (Produce Placement) and much like other video games films is an A+ product placement by literally being an advertisement for the Double Dragon video game series. It definitely gets a Where? (Setting as a Character) for New Angeles, the post-apocalyptic Los Angeles. And finally you could make an argument for the medallion being a MacGuffin, although we kind of do know what it is meant to do, there are a lot of secrets … I’m going to give it to it, also an A+ MacGuffin (Why?). I think it is close to BMT as well, it could end up being one of the more entertaining films we watch this year, I could believe that. Wow, impressive list there.
StreetCreditReport.com – As said this is one of the worst video games films ever made I think, although this Vulture article puts it at 26th which is rather impressive. There was only one real worst of list at the time and it isn’t on it, but hey, it gets its cred mostly from the legacy video game films have left behind.
You Just Got Schooled – What you thought I was going to watch the 1993 animated Double Dragon television show? No way, this time let’s get a glimpse of the wonderful world of speed runs. Double Dragon has an 11-minute speedrun online. You can even see Abobo at about 1:25, he’s the first boss. Speed runs are usually a bit more fun when they can really glitch it, like beating Mario 64 in a few minutes using game breaking jumps and stuff. But this was still cool, seeing how an old game can just be memorized to finish it real quick. That appears to be the third fastest run which is pretty cool.