‘Double Trouble’: Not worth half the price

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Double Trouble

Directed by David Hsun-Wei Chang

Written by Zhang Hongyi and Yeh Sho-Heng

China, 2012

It would be nice for Jaycee Chan to not be held to such an absurdly high standard. The problem is, he has his father’s nose: that daft proboscis which, each time it was broken and re-broken, more deeply signified Jackie Chan’s status as the clown prince of kung fu. Jackie Chan’s films set a near-impossible standard to meet, but worse, Jaycee’s new film Double Trouble (which the elder Chan was not connected with in any way) doesn’t meet the standards set by any good film.

Jaycee Chan plays a Taiwanese security guard who is assigned to protect a priceless painting, but due to a chance encounter with a visiting Chinese tourist (Xia Yu) the painting is lost anyway. Chan ends up chasing the painting with Yu in tow, thinking him a possible culprit; as the title suggests, this is a buddy film. But is this a buddy comedy or a buddy action film? The answer seems to be, “neither.”

The film starts with a brief action set piece intending to demonstrate the awesomeness of Chan’s character, but it is shockingly stingy with all subsequent excitement. There are just two other action sequences of any length in the 100-minute film: a car-on-bus chase and the big finale. Both of those are heavily aided by the digital erasure of obvious wires and support cables, making them harmless and completely unmemorable. The only other action in the picture is a lame running gag in which Chan is repeatedly hit in the groin.

The long gaps between action sequences are filled with something that is supposed to be comedy, but it doesn’t quite get there. Chan’s role is as the straight man, which is all wrong. When you have a funny nose, even if it comes from a father that you’d like to distinguish yourself from, you have to play the clown. There are some nice comedy ideas in the supporting cast – a Taiwanese gang whose members all sport 80s-style perms is worth a chuckle or two – but their scenes are stretched to interminable length as the one-note jokes are beaten to death and well beyond.

Moreover, there seems to be a general laziness in the storytelling of this film. At one point the heroes are in a church praying and a pair of shady-looking characters arrive to talk to them. Then the film cuts to an entirely different scene, the plot having advanced to the next step without explanation, and the shady characters are never seen again. That’s hardly the only example, just the most egregious one: this picture has enough nonsensical transitions to make Tommy Wiseau blush.

In some moments it seems that this film is actually trying to be a satire, to undercut the traditional Hong Kong action film tropes. But even if that were the case, Double Trouble should still try to be a good example of the thing it’s trying to satirize (a la Scream), and it isn’t. It is a flat, uninteresting, unentertaining failure.

-Mark Young

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