“The Twins Effect 2” comes to us a year after the box office success of the “The Twins Effect”, a movie about vampires; the sequel, set in ancient China, is a sequel in name only. Simply put, I found the original grossly idiotic at best and grossly moronic at worst. These aren’t films, they’re manufactured commercials for the Twins; and hence, the Twins aren’t actors, they’re products. In any case, the sequel also goes by the title, “The Huadu Chronicles: Blade of the Rose”. You figure it out.
The clearly big-budgeted movie stars Charlene Choi as Spring, a slaver (she sells men) and her partner in crime Gillian Chung as Blue, a serious-minded warrior. Both women lives in a kingdom ruled with an iron fist by an Empress who, because of a past betrayal by the man she loved, has deemed that men are only good for torture and servitude. Blue is ordered by the evil Empress to bring back a stolen object, while Spring goes in search of a traveling actor on the behest of an overweight female General. The two stumble across Jaycee Chan, the most blatant example of nepotism — er, I mean, a traveling actor named Char who is actually dumber than he looks. And the guy looks pretty dumb.
The first thing that is immediately evident about “The Twins Effect 2” is just how “epic” it was intended to be. Set in some indeterminate ancient time, the film has nothing to do with vampires and is more of a fantasy-based story along the lines of “Legend of Zu” and “The Storm Riders”. And like those other films, “Twins” is a victim of its own grand ambitions. The film is chock full of action scenes employing elaborate choreography, “This is soooo cool!” poses, and enough special effects to make the average mindless Hollywood summer fare blush. Every scene is jammed full of extras, great big halls, and elaborate sets. It all stinks of pandering for an “epic” tag just a little too much.
The film claims two directors, Patrick Leung and long-time action choreographer Corey Yuen. You can see some of Yuen’s influences in the film’s many action scenes, but they’re nowhere near the caliber of Yuen’s work in “So Close”. Despite its high production values, the CGI is sometimes thrown at the screen with such wanton disregard that they only end up cluttering the action. The film pulls out all the tricks, including more than a few “Matrix”-like slow-motion fights. Needless to say, the fact that I had to mention the Wachowski brothers’ movie means there’s nothing innovative about the fights in “Twins”. Also, there are so many slow motion and special effects that there is absolutely no believability in the fights at all. If these guys actually know kung fu, I’m the Twins’ long lost sister.
It all comes down to a simple formula: if you like the Twins as celebrities, you’ll probably like them in just about anything, “The Twins Effect 2” included. Despite its big budget and special effects galore, the movie won’t make any new converts. Even though I’ve loosened a bit on my general indifference to the trademarked duo (mostly due to Chung’s surprisingly endearing appearance in “Moving Targets”), this is probably the last film starring the short stuffs I will willingly see again. It’s not that they’re bad actors (they’re slightly average, or maybe just a tad below that), but rather I just don’t care for their peppy and generic brand of entertainment. Having said that, if seeing Charlene Choi slap on a fake mustache and pretend to be a man is your cup of tea, you’ll have tons of fun with this movie.
I haven’t made any bones about my general dislike for the current crop of 20-something Hong Kong pop stars dominating the market at the moment. They’re interchangeable musicians with delusions of acting skills — or interchangeable actors with delusions of singing skills. Aside from their horrid ability to pick decent films, the general sucktitude of those films are akin to watching 24 hours of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera try to out-skank each other (i.e. watching MTV).
Aside from the headlining stars, “Twins Effect 2” is, like everything else about it, loaded to the gills with money. Tony Leung Ka Fai (“The Lover”) shows up as a buffoon, Edison Chen manages to strip away all the respect he had earned from me via “Moving Targets”, and Daniel Wu (“Purple Storm”) plays a eunuch. Donnie Yen shows up intermittently to lend some credibility to the fights, even managing to take part in the film’s only saving grace: a fast and furious fight between himself and Jackie Chan (who shows up just long enough to fight Yen). This scene alone earns the film an extra star; without it, “Twins Effect 2” is a pointless 1-star movie in search of a reason for taking up valuable space in the universe.
And for those wondering, “The Twins Effect 2” also marks the movie debut of Jaycee Chan, son of Jackie, the movie’s producer. How does J.C. Jr. do? Well, Jaycee is basically Jackie, but without the wacky stunts. And we all know no one ever paid Jackie to “act”.
Patrick Leung, Corey Yuen (director)
CAST: Charlene Choi …. Spring
Gillian Chung …. Blue
Donnie Yen …. General Lone
Jaycee Chan …. Char
Edison Chen …. Lao
Tony Leung Ka Fai …. Blackwood
Qu Ying …. Empress
Daniel Wu ….
Jackie Chan …. Lord of Armour