Movies based on video games tend to have a really bad reputation. It’s questionable which ones are successful, though Silent Hill will always be my favorite as I consider it to be the most faithful with the recent reboot of Tomb Raider a close second. Some embrace absurdity and go bonkers like the Mortal Kombat movies, but that’s what makes them so much fun. The problem with some of them is marketing towards filmgoers who don’t play video games. It’s a big challenge to take something like Street Fighter and make it for a universal audience. While they may attract some of the biggest stars to play a part, the story itself is usually lacking and audiences outside the built-in fanbase tend to ignore them. 1994’s DOUBLE DRAGON is one of the movies responsible for giving video game movies a bad name.
DOUBLE DRAGON is given a post-apocalyptic setting (2007 to be exact) but with that classic 80s New York punk attitude. Think The Warriors or even that divisive season two episode of Stranger Things (you know which episode I’m talking about). The Lee brothers, Billy and Jimmy, find themselves with the missing half of an amulet known as the Double Dragon. They have to keep this out of the hands of the evil Koga Shuko, played by Robert Patrick in what would now be an extremely controversial choice, who believes getting ahold of this will give him powers. What ensues are colorful set pieces accompanied by cringe-worthy one-liners that scream straight to video 90s.
With all that being said, DOUBLE DRAGON does hold a special place for early gamers. I myself was excited about this movie as a kid as I loved playing the video games. Even then, the movie didn’t do anything for me. Part of that issue is that the film does not stand out from the crowd. It feels like standard fare that happened to get young hot actors like Scott Wolf and Alyssa Milano.
MVD has now added to their Rewind Collection a high definition version of DOUBLE DRAGON. They seriously did the most by not just creating nostalgic artwork and remastering the film, but there are lots of special features to go through that even sparked my own curiosity. The biggest attraction here is a feature-length documentary following every step of how this movie came about and all those involved. Both cast and crew participated in newly filmed interviews giving their recollections of how the project came to be and their familiarity (or lack of) with the game franchise. I’m going to throw in there that Scott Wolf hasn’t aged a day and could totally still be a dreamboat. A new featurette about producer Don Murphy is also included. There’s plenty of archival material like behind the scenes, storyboards, marketing materials, and even the pilot episode of the 1993 animated series. That episode is definitely the topping of a legit package that fans will be clamoring for.
DOUBLE DRAGON is not for everyone, but gamers of the early 90s will feel like a kid again picking this up and revisiting their childhood. The artwork comes with a reversible sleeve if you prefer the original look and a mini poster inside. I don’t recommend for a blind buy, but those who loved it as a kid should definitely pick this up to add to their collection.
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