Double Trouble (2012)

Reviewed By Jay Seaver
Posted 06/09/12 15:18:23

"Half quality."
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

There's not a lot of creativity present in "Double Trouble"; it's basically MacGuffin + mismatched partners + colorful henchmen (well, henchwomen, in this case). That doesn't have to be a bad thing - star Jaycee Chan's father Jackie made a career out of movies that can be described that way - but there's got to be a little more effort put into it than this one manages.

Ocean (Xia Yu) is a security guard from Beijing on vacation in Taipei; Jay (Jaycee Chan) has the same job, but at the National Museum there. A 400-year-old national treasure is about to go on display, and it's targeted by international art thief Z (Vivian Dawson) and his sidekicks V (Christina C) and M (Shoko). The heist leaves Jay the fall guy, Ocean tagging along, and his new fiend Jane (Deng Jiajia) being pursued by the folks with the single-letter names.

Double Trouble should be nuts; it's got a ridiculously intense museum security guard, girls who do cat burglar stuff in stiletto heels, patriotic gangsters, and more. But director David Chang (and the writers whose names I didn't catch) seems to have no idea what's entertaining and what's not. For instance, there's not a single scene with Ocean's tour guide (Chan Han-tien) that's actually funny, but the movie keeps going back to him and his stupid American Idol-equivalent jokes, but does it do anything with the kinky twist on alpha villains and underlings we see with Z, V, and M after it spends half a minute introducing them? Nope. Jay is a security guard who talks about going on missions, but that bizarre level of dedication is almost never touched upon. That wouldn't be a particularly original set of gags, but it would be entertaining, as would finding any sort of role for Deng Jiajia's Jane, who is pretty and likable and seems to catch the eye of both Jay and Ocean and has does absolutely nothing that affects the story at all.

She's not the only one who is criminally underused. Xia Yu is given the laid-back half of an intensely-capable/happily-oblivious teaming, and while it's not a terribly deep role, Xia makes Ocean pleasant enough while also being just irritating enough to the audience that he must drive Jay absolutely <I>nuts</I>. Christina C and Shoko are mainly cast for their looks, but they can at least hold themselves like genuine threats, as does Vivian Dawson. Jaycee Chan looks like he'd shine in a better role; the charisma that made him a popular musician in China and Hong Kong comes through even when the character is being a bit of a jerk.

He's not exactly the screen fighter his father is, although he acquits himself well-enough when it comes to that, at least on the technical side. The action is hampered by Chang and company never being able to pick up the pace the way that the film needs them to; for something that is built as a chase, the film never gives the impression of any particular urgency, with the lead characters stopping the movie dead to pull off to the side of the road and talk about their feelings when, hey, Z could be getting the painting out of the country right now for all they know. The two big action scenes with Chan, Xia, and the ladies that should have been centerpieces wind up falling somewhat flat - one playing as bad slapstick and the other a car chase that seems to move too slowly - a perhaps unfair criticism, as there is some technically impressive stuntwork and this movie can't afford something like the finale of Bangkok Knockout, but these scenes never deliver the visceral thrills they should.

Heck, at times the outtakes that play over the end credits without subtitles and which generally end with an actor cracking up often play better as both comedy and action than the main feature. The pieces for an offbeat action-comedy are there, but the filmmakers just can't find a fun way to put them together.

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