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Taiwanese director David Chang’s 2011 Jaycee Chan vehicle “Double Trouble” is what I like to call a lightly-carbonated action/comedy. This, of course, indicates that the film in question offers very conservative portions of both action and comedy. In case you were wondering, this isn’t a compliment. Chan is a natural born charmer, to be sure, and his goofy, cartoonish antics are reminiscent of those perpetrated in his world-famous father’s American endeavors. Here’s the downside: these shenanigans add up to very little in the long run. Which is a shame, really, because Chan is clearly capable of delivering much more if given the right script.
The film follows the misadventures of an overly ambitious museum security guard Jay (Chan), who, as we learn early in the feature, has an extremely hard time following orders. Every time his superiors tell him to remain at his post, he blatantly ignores their orders and handles the current mission however he sees fit. Jay’s seemingly unchecked egotism soon results in the theft of a priceless artwork, a crime executed with surprising ease by a pair of ridiculously attractive female thieves. Because, as everyone knows, if you want a mission done properly, you always send in your sexiest, most conspicuous burglars.
While tracking down those responsible for plotting the heist, our bumbling hero joins forces with Ocean, a security guard from Beijing on a sightseeing tour through Taipei. The ensuing confusion — Ocean initially believes that Jay is the thief — leaves the young do-gooder without the stolen object and the tourist without his group. In order to put things back in their proper place, Jay and his reluctant partner embark on a mission to retrieve the nicked item and return Ocean to his “American Idol”-obsessed tour leader. Typical buddy comedy tomfoolery promptly ensue. Unfortunately, these wacky elements rarely produce laughs.
“Double Trouble”, while enjoyable in a totally superficial sense, suffers from a number of distracting quirks and tics, most of which are inherent to the buddy comedy subgenre itself. One of the key ingredients in this tricky recipe is the script, which needs to give audiences a reason to root for the heroes, to sympathize with their plight. Unfortunately, outside of a quasi-touching moment involving the story behind Jay’s inability to follow orders, there’s really nothing for prospective viewers to sink their teeth into. Chan piles on the charm, but, as most charmers will tell you, that will only take you so far. Personally, I don’t really have a problem with the lack of depth, as I’m a sucker for buddy comedies of all shapes and sizes.
The action sequences, I’m sorry to say, are surprisingly weak. I had expected some jaw-dropping set pieces, scenes that took full advantage of Jaycee and the Jackie Chan Stunt Team. The film’s final fight, in addition to being too damned short, relies heavily on dodgy wire work, which ultimately derails the intensity. The tour bus sequence is definitely cute, but the obvious use of green screen in several shots is just way too distracting. That’s the sort of stuff you’d expect from an American production, not a Chinese action flick.
Overall, “Double Trouble” is just your typical, middle-of-the-road buddy comedy, which is disappointing given the amount of talent working behind-the-scenes. Jaycee Chan still needs a breakout hit, one that shatters preconceived notions and, ultimately, separates him from his father’s work. Benny Chan’s 2007 endeavor “Invisible Target” was certainly a step in the right direction, and I’d love to see him tackle something a bit more dramatic again in the future. I think the guy has talent, and I’m anxious for him to come into his own. Although it pains me to say it, “Double Trouble” isn’t going to win him any new fans.
David Chang (director) / David Chang (screenplay)
CAST: Jaycee Chan … Jay
Xia Yu … Ocean