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Twin Daggers

Lionsgate Home Entertainment // R // July 22, 2008
List Price: $26.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by David Cornelius | posted July 24, 2008 | E-mail the Author
There's much misplaced weirdness in the action movie import "Twin Daggers," leaving the film looking like one of those bargain bin Lorenzo Lamas flicks as if rewritten by an intern over at Troma. Within the first few minutes, we see a killer mime, a Tom & Jerry-esque slapstick routine involving dropping vases, and a guy who uses abacus beads as a weapon.

It's nifty stuff, just bizarre enough to snap us out of our bottom-rung action flick haze, if only for a few seconds. But it's not nearly enough to salvage what's ultimately a pretty awful movie. When I namecheck Lorenzo Lamas, I'm not being sarcastic - with all the wooden acting, bad dialogue, cheap direction, and unimpressive fight scenes, I half-expected the former "Renegade" star to pop up in the lead role. Instead, we get as our star Rhett Giles, veteran of such direct-to-video clunkers as "King of the Lost World" and "Way of the Vampire."

"Twin Daggers" takes place in 1935, which is the first of many mistakes made by the filmmakers; if you don't have the budget to hide the anachronisms, don't go for the period piece. A series of quickie action set pieces introduce us to bookworm Scholar (Giles); vampish surprisingly-not-a-drag-queen Body (Veronica Bero); Lex (Joey Convington), the nimble cat burglar; and an assassin best described simply as The Mime (Vasilios Elovalis).

There should never be a point in any movie where the idea of a killer mime becomes dull - the insanity of such a concept seems too brilliantly nutty to ever lose steam - and yet halfway though "Twin Daggers," we look at The Mime and yawn. That's how out of focus this movie gets. It can't even manage to keep its most bizarre concepts afloat.

The quartet used to be an ace fighting unit, and now they've been hired by the slinky Kay (Coco Su) to kill her twin sister Sue (also Coco Su), but with no witnesses, and with nobody else harmed. They all head off to Shanghai, where Scholar slowly falls for the twin, discovering that perhaps Kay has more sinister intents (as if wanting your twin sister dead isn't sinister enough). Can Scholar protect Sue from the other assassins? Only badly choreographed action scenes can tell!

Oh, there are many fight scenes here, so you can't fault the movie for quantity. Quality, however, is another story. Here are fights laden with clunky choreography and rote execution. These aren't so much rapid-fire moves as they are the first run-though of stuntmen learning the steps. When the awkwardness becomes too evident, director Kuen-Hou Chen speeds up the film, giving some attacks a cartoonish, Keystone Kops look, or else he slows it down, blurring the image in the process. Action fans are usually forgiving of many levels of badness, but if the action stinks, too, then forget it.

"Twin Daggers" is a Chinese production shot entirely in English, and maybe something got lost in the translation. The script (by Allen Shan) is a bore, except in the final ten minutes, when we're tossed a pile of messy twists and accompanying explanations - then the script is an embarrassment. Attempts at offbeat comedy sink like a rock, never gelling with the movie's more serious moments. It's all such a mish-mash of random ideas and oddball eccentricity, and some might enjoy watching thing simply for its what-the-hell-is-this? quality. But only those with the sturdiest of constitutions should attempt such ironic viewing. A lesser viewer's spirit would surely crack by the time the killer mime finishes his introduction.

The DVD

Lionsgate gives the "Twin Daggers" DVD some wildly misleading cover art. Here, two kung fu champions battle in some sort of ancient tournament. That looks so much better than the movie we actually get. Pity.

Video & Audio

The low budget of "Twin Daggers" does the anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) transfer no favors. Grain abounds in darker shots, and colors are always a little too flat, and there's plenty of blurring in the action scenes. The Dolby 5.1 soundtrack fares much better, with crisp dialogue and some clever use of the surround speakers. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are provided.

Extras

In pure exploitation fashion, the Lionsgate DVD trailer for "Twin Daggers" highlights the movie's best stunts and ignores the rest.

A gallery of previews for other Lionsgate releases is also included; these trailers also play as the disc loads.

Final Thoughts

I know quite a few guys who dig even the clumsiest action flicks, but even so, I'd be hard pressed to find any of them who'd willingly sit through all of "Twin Daggers." Skip It.
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