Using manipulative music in movies is nothing new. Steven Spielberg used to make a living off it. Such is the case with “The Twins Effect”, the new “it” movie from Hong Kong starring two popular teen idols, a has-been teen idol, and an old has-been action idol. Every scene of “Twins Effect” is doused with “appropriate” music, meaning the filmmakers don’t trust the material to elicit the proper responses, so the music is meant to tell you, the idiot audience, when the scene is supposed to be funny, cute, exciting, or during the vampire battles, gothic.
And it’s a good thing the filmmakers don’t trust the material, because they’re working with rubbish. Weak, lame, and completely idiotic rubbish. First and foremost, “Effect” is all about camp. There’s so much cheese present that a truck full of Ritz crackers is in order. Also, don’t expect any of the action to wow you, simply because the actors are not proficient in martial arts. The exception would be Jackie Chan and Karen Mok, both of who appears in cameos to provide slapstick “comedy”. Then again, the whole movie is one big slap in the face — er, I mean, slapstick comedy. Like many Hong Kong movies, “Twins Effect” gives us a steady dose of slapstick, and then tries to force-feed us a tragic ending.
It’s no surprise that Ekin Cheng (“The Duel”), the king of Fake Kung Fu movies, leads the cast as Reeve, a vampire hunter in Hong Kong. The year is 2046, and the world is plagued by vampire bats from — gasp — another planet! (And no, I’m not kidding.) Assigned to stop the bloodsuckers are local Special Task Force teams (or STF). After Reeve’s partner is killed in battle, he gets a new partner in Gypsy (Gillian Chung), a teen who also has a crush on him. The duo lives in Reeve’s pad, which is also where Reeve’s precocious teen sister Helen (Charlene Choi) lives. The girls initially don’t like each other, quarrels a lot, and finally becomes buddies.
Edison Chen (“Gen-Y Cops”) plays Kazaf, a member of vampire royalty; he’s in hiding in Hong Kong with his trusty assistant Prada (Anthony Wong, slumming here after some very good work in “Princess D” and “Infernal Affairs”). The rest of Kazaf’s royal family have already been slaughtered, and the killer, the King of Eurotrash vampire (who speaks perfectly (dubbed!) Chinese) has come to finish the job. At stake is an ancient book that can alter the evolution of mankind. And oh yeah, after seeing Helen break up with her boyfriend at a restaurant in a painful scene (not painfully heartbreaking, but painfully written and acted and just generally stupid), he falls madly in love with her.
It’s easy to understand what goes into the making of a movie like “The Twins Effect”. The primary reason is to capitalize on the name of Choi and Chung, who are currently the biggest singing duo in Hong Kong today, although I had to look them up on the net. Apparently the girls (they’re both in their late teens, as far as I can tell) go by the showbiz name “The Twins”, which means the movie’s title is a play on their singing career, and that in itself is not a good sign.
Although the movie is supposed to be about vampires (supposed to be, anyway), there is little to no vampire action in the first 40 minutes. We get a somewhat confusing fight at a train station between Cheng and some Eurotrash vampires as the movie opens, but the next 40 minutes is devoted to the Twins doing their thing, which consists of them acting like babies, making faces at each other, and then a somewhat interesting fight (between the girls) on a rooftop that has action choreographer Donnie Yen’s name all over it. It’s not that I’m trying to dump on the girls; it’s just that they’re not very good actors, which is doubly bad news when the movie is built around them. (Although it should be said that Chung seems to be the more talented of the two, although not by much.)
I’m sure “Twins Effect” will appeal to the teenybopper crowd (in Hong Kong, anyway). It has loads of special effects (in comparison to many Hong Kong movies, even though the sfx is at least 4 years behind its American counterpart), the girls do “cute” very well (but probably too much for the rest of us non-fans), and Ekin Cheng, I’m told, still holds some sway over the swooning girly populace. As for the rest, don’t watch the film for action, because there’s shockingly very little, and what little there is is so poorly executed as to be almost worthless.
Even worst, the use of music is so obnoxious and so overwhelming that the filmmakers sometimes goes through whole action sequences forgetting to put in the sound effects!
Conclusion: “Twins Effect” isn’t a movie, it’s a merchandising ploy.
Dante Lam (director) / Jack Ng (screenplay)
CAST: Ekin Cheng …. Reeve
Charlene Choi …. Helen
Gillian Chung …. Gypsy
Anthony Wong …. Prada
Jackie Chan …. Jackie
Edison Chen …. Kazaf