The 1994 action movie Double Dragon, based on the 1987 beat-em-up arcade game, is a surprisingly enjoyable low-budget romp. Science fiction author Zach Chapman says it reminds him of old favorites such as Surf Ninjas and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
“It should be a cult classic,” Chapman says in Episode 429 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “It’s really fun. It seems like people enjoyed making the movie. There’s this kind of synergy, this chemistry.”
“He’s so charismatic, and he just seems like he’s having fun,” Kirtley says. “I mean, I don’t believe he would ever win any fight against anybody, ever. But he’s so adorable, and it was so good to see him again.”
Video game journalist Blake J. Harris was a big fan of Double Dragon for the NES, and was surprised that he’d never heard of the movie before. “There were so many less movies made back then, and I felt like I used to be at least aware of everything that came out, even if I didn’t see it,” he says. “How did this slip through the cracks so much?”
That obscurity is probably due in part to terrible reviews—Double Dragon is currently rated 13 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Fantasy author Erin Lindsey says the movie would probably find a more receptive audience if it were released today.
“Back when this movie came out, most of the critics were ‘serious’ critics in major media outlets,” she says. “There wasn’t this proliferation of blogs and various little corners of the world that would glory in this sort of thing, in the way that there are now. So it’s pretty clear that everybody totally missed the point.”
Listen to the complete interview with Zach Chapman, Blake J. Harris, and Erin Lindsey in Episode 429 of Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
Blake J. Harris on the Doom movie:
“What was so addictive, and what was so memorable, and what was so successful about [the video game] Doom was the frenetic feel that you get, and just the carnage. That visceral ‘hunting’ feeling. They almost shouldn’t have bothered so much with story—which I can’t believe I’m saying—but I feel like it should have been almost like a Saw situation, where you wake up and you’re just in this fight. ‘What’s going on?’ And to just try to capture that pandemonium, which I felt like was how I remember the game, and there’s a feeling to that. … There should be no slow scenes in this movie. It should have just been bam-bam-bam-bam.”
David Barr Kirtley on the Wing Commander movie:
“My memories of the games are maybe rose-tinged, but I remember that—particularly in Wing Commander and Wing Commander II—you feel like you’re a pilot in the navy, and it’s not just like a frat house or whatever. I do remember in Wing Commander III, which is where they started using live actors, there are two women: there’s Angel and a mechanic, and the mechanic is played by an actual porn star. … So just thinking back on that I’m like, ‘Maybe the games were more crass than I remember.’ But I remember them being more grown-up than this. It might just be inaccurate memories, but I was surprised. I felt like this was more like Porky’s than Wing Commander.”
Zach Chapman on the Double Dragon movie:
“There’s some good stuff behind it. Paul Dini was the writer for it, and so was Peter Gould. Peter Gould is a co-creator of Better Call Saul, and wrote a bunch of Breaking Bad. Paul Dini is a co-creator of Harley Quinn. These people&mdashespecially Paul Dini—that dude’s like my childhood. He did Batman: The Animated Series, Adventures of Superman, Batman Beyond, a lot of the Looney Tunes stuff, some of the Star Wars: Clone Wars stuff. The guy is a prolific writer, and a good writer. … It helps that we projected [the movie]—we went into a friend’s backyard and we all stayed far away from each other with our masks on—and watched this movie, and everyone enjoyed it.”
Erin Lindsey on the Hitman movie:
“The setup for Hitman is that he’s got this bar code [on his head] and works for the big secret agency, and when it starts off he’s doing hits in Niger for some reason, but then you’ve got the Interpol guys running around. Anyway, it’s all absurd and bears no resemblance to the real world, and yet that’s not the problem with it at all, for me. Because if you think about a movie like John Wick, the worldbuilding—the frame—is silly on its face, but that’s not really the point. So why does John Wick work, and work really well, at least for me, and why does this not work? Timothy Olyphant should be a solid choice. Keanu Reeves does this deadpan thing with a slight wink. Timothy Olyphant is great at that. It’s a solid choice, it should work, and it totally doesn’t. At all.”