Twins Effect II
Hong Kong 2004
Directed by Patrick Leung, Corey Yuen.

Pure entertainment. Light, kids stuff to be sure, but lots of fun anyway. Not even remotely related to the original TWINS EFFECT, the second movie drops the Vampire theme entirely and delivers basically the Hong Kong equivalent of an Italian sword & sandal flick, complete with Amazon warriors, slave men, mole people, and evil queens. No muscleman in the lead, though, instead we've got Jackie Chan's son Jaycee Fong as the man who will be King. Charlene Choi is a slave trader, selling men (called "dumbbells") on the market. Gillian Cheung works for the evil queen and her eunuch (Daniel Wu). Both end up chasing after Jaycee Fong and his pal Wilson Chen, who work as theater performers in a troupe led by Tony Leung Ka-Fai (in yet another of his exceptional supporting roles).

But the movie is really all about "Love." Yes, the evil queen is evil because she thought her man betrayed her, he castrates himself in order to prove his loyalty, but it's no good, she has to enslave the populace. The mole people have gone insane because they can't love each other in peace and were driven underground by the Amazons. And so on, and so on. Eventually everyone finds love, even master swordsman "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" (Donnie Yen), who finds temporary solace in the arms of...well, but that would be telling.

The special effects are completely over the top, with the occasional CGI figures replacing the stars. While that is fine in and of itself, it's a little sad to see CGI replacement when Gillian Cheung does something as simple as, say, a backflip. Hong Kong action stars have sunk to this. Even Jackie Chan, in a brief cameo as a Terracotta Warrior, is CGI replaced and enhanced in several shots during his fight with Donnie Yen. Their fight is not quite as good as their previous fight scene in SHANGHAI KNIGHTS, because of the special effects overload, but it is still fun to watch. Far superior to the special effects (and the acting, such that it is) are the beautiful costumes and set design. In fact the costumes here are among the best I've seen in Hong Kong Cinema for several years.

TWINS EFFECT II is a goofy film, but not self-consciously so, like the half-baked Protege de la Rose Noire. Within its outrageous setting and plot, and to the best abilities of some of the young non-actors, the production is entirely sincere and satisfying because of it. I'm ready for TWINS EFFECT III, if they once again start from scratch and give us another Hong Kong reimagining of a Western genre. A Bondian spy thriller? A superhero movie? Science Fiction? And why not TWINS EFFECT 3-D? Oh yes, I can see it now.

Rating: Recommended (Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on February 23, 2005.

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