Jean-Claude Van Damme and Jackie Chan; two of the greatest action stars of all time and yet we’ve never seen them in a movie together? Why not? It could have been awesome when both were in their prime. Anyway, that’s a question for another day.
Today it’s beatdown time; both action stars have played twins in Double Impact and Twin Dragons respectively. No one is denying both film’s awesomeness however, which one is the better action flick?
Let’s do this!
Plot: Nearly 25 years after seeing his father killed by Hong Kong crime boss Raymond Zhang (Philip Chan), Chad Wagner (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is living in Los Angeles as a flourishing yet peaceful martial arts trainer. But Chad has a twin brother, Alex (also Van Damme), who suddenly reunites with his less-aggressive sibling and wants to avenge their father’s death. As the pair plans their payback against Zhang, they also struggle to overcome their personal differences.
Double Impact is one of my favourite JCVD movies; it just has everything. Awesome fights, cheese, Van Damme doing the splits, Bolo Yeung and some nudity thrown in for good measure. I also really enjoy the conflict between the two brothers. Alex is resentful that Chad seems to have had a more charmed existence while he has had to live a life of crime in Hong Kong. When the two brothers reluctantly agree to seek revenge on the men who killed their parents their relationship is strained at best but JCVD manages to make them feel like 2 genuinely different people. I also particularly love the character of Alex who is a cigar chomping badass.
I also enjoy Geoffrey Lewis as Frank Avery, the man who raises Chad and brings the brothers together; he’s a complete hero who cannot be corrupted and sticks by the brothers no matter what.
The bad guys are hateful and the JCVD fight with Bolo Yeung is arguably the action highlight. You can never go wrong with an English villain like Griffith who is brilliantly smug; his comeuppance is especially satisfying as he is the man who betrayed the brother’s parents all those years ago.
Interestingly enough Philip Chan who plays the big bad is also in Twin Dragons but in a smaller role and isn’t a bad guy.
The internal conflict between the twins as well as the nasty villains give the film some drama so you are emotionally involved with the story and care about the outcome.
As I’ve said before the effects are a little dated in places and the movie is cheesy but it’s still a great movie and remains one of my favourites.
Plot: Decades after the abduction of his newborn twin, world-famous American pianist John Ma (Jackie Chan) arrives in Hong Kong to perform and finds himself face-to-face with Boomer (Jackie Chan), the identical twin brother he has never known. When the reunited brothers switch places by mistake, John discovers that Boomer is a petty criminal with a knack for getting into trouble. Soon John gets in over his head with a group of gangsters looking for Boomer, and his brother vows to save him.
So Twin Dragons has Jackie Chan also playing two brothers where one was brought up in America and the other in Hong Kong. One has had a more charmed life while the other is a petty criminal… hmm notice any similarities? Well, that’s really where the similarities end as Twin Dragons is quite a different movie from Double Impact. The tone is more playful and comedic and never really has any drama as it’s all played for laughs. It feels more like an Inspector Clouseau film with all the slapstick going on; I’m not a fan of that kind of humour to be honest and the scenes where people keep confusing the two brothers does get annoying after a while.
As previously mentioned Philip Chan is in this but also keep your eyes open for Kickboxer’s Dennis Chan in a blink or you miss him role.
The villains aren’t really developed so you never really hate them but the two brothers and Chan’s martial arts prowess are what make the film such fun.
Jackie Chan’s dedication to the craft is never in doubt and as always there are some spectacular stunts and unbelievably awesome fight scenes. So in terms of action I’d say that just maybe Twin Dragons comes out on top.
Like Double Impact some of the effects are dated but I think the visuals in Twin Dragons stand up better where it’s not quite as jarring.
I love both movies but I’m a lifelong JCVD fan and Double Impact is one of my favourite action films so sorry Jackie, but I gotta go with my boy on this one and say Double Impact. Which do you prefer?