Double Dragon is all kinds of 90s. It has dated CGI, some real bad references and catchphrases, and a healthy dose of colors, ninjas, and all sorts of other 90s cliches. But dated-ness is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, yes, it does show that a movie isn't particularly timeless ... or perhaps it is. Bare with me.
Baring Scott Wolf as Billy Lee, every character in this film is entertaining, interesting, and even a bit nuanced. This isn't Oscar season, best Actor nominations nuanced. But they show emotions, character depth, and a lot of things that really I did not expect from this ridiculous video game adaptation. The storyline is engaging, and the villain is accessible, if one-dimensional (though Robert Patrick really does know how to play a villain well, especially one-dimensional ones).
Get it, because he's the floor!
The fight scenes are half very fun and half kinda lame, almost exclusively along the Scott Wolf v. Mark Dacascos line. What I'm saying is Dacascos is pretty fantastic, constantly giving disapproving looks just like I do to the almost insufferable Scott Wolf. The dialogue is many times very funny, but when it isn't funny it is either painful or just services its purpose. The MIDI music is also, by the way, some of the worst, least memorable 90s schlocky synth music they could find.
But storytelling isn't only in the dialogue. The actual plot, the pacing, then danger and culmination of the story, all the set up and the way the exposition is told to the audience, all of that is suprisingly ... superb. There is a great sequence where the cops of New Angeles are too afraid to follow with one of their own as he does the right thing for the first time in years by going out into the gang riots. It isn't funny or silly, it is just a solid scene furthering the stakes of the film. There are satirical news reports, similarly done as the ones in Robocop (though the Robocop ones worked far better as a screenwriting device than here, to be honest) are pleasant and funny, and also allow for time to pass in an understandable way, progressing the plot along. The flick passes the Bechdel! The Bobo villain's moment of realization that his boss made him a monster and his following face turn is surprisingly poignant. Of course, there is also a "let's feed him spinich and let him fart for a full minute" scene ... so you take your good with your bad.
Yup, Alyssa Milano. Yup ... fart jokes ... why am I saying so many nice things?
I think a LOT of people would focus on the bad here, but there is really a lot of good hidden in Double Dragon. This movie is never going to win awards, and truth be told, doesn't deserve them. But it does deserve to be watched, and even more, to be enjoyed. It is a fun, entertaining, sometimes surprising, sometimes shake-your-head-and-laugh-bad action/comedy. I really did enjoy it, and if you go in with the mindset of looking in a time-capsule and enjoying the look 20 years into the past, I think you'll enjoy it, too.