Blu-ray Release Date: February 5, 2019
Director: James Yukich
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Runtime: 96 Minutes
This product was provided by MVD for the purpose of this review. All opinions are our own. Score is based on the product as a whole and not the film itself.
It’s 2007. “The Big One” has come and gone, and Los Angeles (now New Angeles) has been partially submerged into the Pacific, leaving half the city and island overrun by ruthless gangs and lawlessness.
It’s here that the Lee brothers, Billy and Jimmy, come to the aid of Satori, a young woman looking to keep a sacred and magical talisman from the hands of the evil Koga Shuko, and, with that, begins the incredibly messy adventure of 1994’s Double Dragon.
Based on the hit video game series, the film is directed by James Yukich and stars Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos as the brothers Lee with Robert Patrick portraying the villainous Koga Shuko. Alyssa Milano co-stars as Marian, the leader of a freedom-fighter group determined to bring order to the chaos of New Angeles.
Set in a dystopic, future Los Angeles but filmed in Cleveland, Double Dragon carries a similar aesthetic to that of the Super Mario Bros. movie released one year prior and shares the same comically bad trappings of a film that doesn’t know what it wants to be. It attempts to appeal to all ages by presenting a dark and gritty world filled with violent gangs and martial arts everywhere but incorporates dozens of kid-friendly goofs that further cheapen the plot, resulting in a tonally schizophrenic narrative that’s hard for anyone to unironically enjoy.
That said, there was a certain sense of nostalgia this brought back for me when revisiting it for the recently released Collector’s Edition Blu-ray. I was 10 years old when Double Dragon was released, and, as someone who was (and still is) obsessed with video games, I had a great time with the movie, although even as a youngster I recognized the lack of quality.
It’s the perfect example of ridiculous, ’90s kids media from start to finish, and despite the fact that it’s not a very good movie, there’s something to be said about its place in the pop culture history of the decade. The new Blu-ray edition has been released on the MVD Rewind Collection, a relatively new series of high quality releases, with Double Dragon being its 14th entry.
Unlike some of MVD’s other releases, Double Dragon has not been restored, and although the video transfer is more than satisfactory, there are some noticeable bits of dust and debris that pop up from time to time. The package comes with both DVD and Blu-ray versions, and it’s packed with bonus content, including an all-new, full-length, making-of documentary with interviews from Scott Wolf and Mark Dacascos, writers Peter Gould and Michael Davis, and producer Don Murphy.
The documentary, while not particularly well-produced, is a fascinating look at how the film came to be and the variables that caused it to be less than well received by critics and the public. It’s refreshing to see filmmakers speak candidly about mishaps in a production, and that certainly happens here.
There’s an additional featurette that dives deeper into the life of producer Don Murphy and how Double Dragon shaped his career into going on to produce a slew of blockbusters, including the Transformers series. An additional making-of featurette produced during filming, trailers, stills, behind-the-scenes footage, and a pilot of the Double Dragon cartoon are also included on the disc, making this the definitive version of the cult classic.
Sure, it’s cringey, clumsily scripted and directed and doesn’t hold up in any way, but I had a great time revisiting this little piece of my childhood and applaud MVD for taking the time and care to release such a high-quality package of such a low-quality movie for the niche set of fans it’s sure to have.