Release Date(s)1994 (February 5, 2019)
Studio(s)Gramercy Pictures/Imperial Entertainment/Moonstone Entertainment (MVD Rewind Collection)
- Film/Program Grade: C-
- Video Grade: B
- Audio Grade: B
- Extras Grade: A-
Over the years since its release, 1994’s Double Dragon has been called everything from a failure to a “so bad it’s good” type movie. While it’s true that it didn’t light the world on fire upon its initial release, it’s certainly not a horrible waste of one’s time. Mostly a middle-of-the-road experience, it’s apparent that some amount of skill was put into it in specific areas, but for some, that isn’t enough to overcome its inadequacies.
Based upon the video game series, Double Dragon tells the story of two brothers, Billy (Scott Wolf) and Jimmy Lee (Mark Dacascos), two martial artists in a post-apocalyptic world where gangs rule the streets after sunset and the police are helpless. Meanwhile, a crime lord named Shuko (Robert Patrick) is looking for two halves of a mystical medallion called the Double Dragon, which will allow him to both possess his adversaries and become invincible. Attempting to keep Billy and Jimmy Lee hidden from Shuko (both of whom have a familial connection to the two halves of the medallion), a woman named Satori (Julia Nickson) prepares them for the day that they may have to fight in order to keep the medallion out of evil’s hands. With the help of a feisty gang leader (Alyssa Milano), they go toe to toe with Shuko.
As you can no doubt comprehend, Double Dragon is a movie full of ideas, some of which are pulled off relatively well, while others fall by the wayside. What it mostly boils down to is incredibly inane dialogue, some questionable performances, and a pedestrian, but not totally inept, story. It’s an interesting failure with some decent world-building – the production designers and matte painters clearly went to town on the sets and the environments. Above all else, Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos are likable leads with clear motivations as the story unfolds (which even the worst of movies tend to get wrong).
For its Blu-ray debut, the MVD Rewind Collection’s Special Collector’s Edition release of the film features a print-sourced transfer that actually looks quite good. It’s solid and organic in appearance with grain that isn’t all that intrusive, but doesn’t appear digitally scrubbed. Occasional cue markers pop up from time to time, but the presentation is otherwise clean. The color palette is fairly bold and full of variety, including some of the gangs’ costumes and secret lairs. Black levels are fairly deep and everything appears bright without any real issues. While the original camera negative or an interpositive element might have been a more ideal source (if either still exists), this is a fine representation of the film in high definition regardless.
Audio options include English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 LPCM, and German 2.0 Dolby Digital tracks. Optional subtitles include English SDH, Spanish, and French. The 5.1 track is basically a more spaced out version of the stereo track, right down to a lot of the same panning moments. I personally feel it didn’t add much and I actually prefer its stereo counterpart, which seems fuller with more heft behind it, particularly when it comes to music and sound effects. Dialogue is always discernable and there’s no leftover damage to speak of.
This release also has a nice extras package, which includes The Making of Double Dragon, a new 68-minute documentary on the making of the film featuring producer Don Murphy, writers Michael Davis and Peter Gould, and actors Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf, who speak enthusiastically about the film and their experiences making it; Don Murphy: Portrait of a Producer, a new 24-minute interview with the film’s producer about making the film, as well as other films in his filmography such as From Hell, Natural Born Killers, and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; The Shadow Falls, the pilot for a 1993 animated TV series of Double Dragon; 4 1/2 minutes of random behind the scenes B-roll; a 5-minute vintage EPK featurette; an on-set stills gallery (56 images in all); a rehearsals gallery (20 images in all); a poster and home video artwork gallery (40 images in all); a storyboards gallery (59 images in all); a press photo gallery (17 images in all); 2 trailers; a VHS release trailer; 4 TV spots; additional trailers for other MVD releases Angel Town, Black Eagle, The Man from Earth, Out of Time, Raven, and The Return of Swamp Thing; a DVD copy of the film; a mini-poster; and reversible artwork. Missing from various overseas Blu-ray and DVD releases of the film is a music video, a soundtrack trailer, a German trailer, a French trailer, and a couple of more TV spots.
Long-time fans of Double Dragon are likely to be pleased with MVD’s presentation of the film. It’s a little rough around the edges, but overall, it’s a solid Blu-ray experience.
– Tim Salmons