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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
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   Twins Effect  


Twins Effect

Reviewed by Soh Yun-Huei

Directors: Dante Lam, Donnie Yen
Writing Credits: Jack Ng, Chan Hing Kai
Cast: Ekin Cheng, Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung, Jackie Chan, Anthony Wong
Genre: Horror
Country: Hong Kong
Language: Cantonese
Year Released: 2003
Rating: ½ star (out of four stars)

Twins Effect really does live up to its name as a vampire movie - just like a vampire, it's bad and it sucks. It's incredible that HK$50 million was wasted on this film, and I could certainly think of much better ways to spend this money (burning it, for example). Twins Effect lacks a proper plot, boasts terrible acting, poorly choreographed action sequences and supremely dodgy special effects. Add to that the lead actors' inability to grasp an accurate comic timing, a lack of internal consistency, and a deeply unsatisfying denouement, and Twins Effect (which bears no relevance to the film's plot other than the fact it stars pop idols Twins) joins the ever-longer list of piss-poor Hong Kong productions that has emerged from the nation in recent years.

Twins Effect unfolds with a battle between a group of Western vampires and master vampire hunter Reeve (Ekin Cheng) and partner Lila (Josie Ho), which ends in tragedy when Lila is killed in the line of duty. It also marks the first time Reeve comes into contact with a powerful vampire of royal stature, the Duke (Mickey Hardt). The Duke is after invincibility, only attainable by unlocking the family treasure of the vampire royal family - a book called Night to Day, which holds the blood essence of the most powerful vampire to have lived (why would he have died then?). The only way to unlock the book is to obtain the blood essences of all the princes of the royal family, and Duke has obtained all but one prince's essence, that of Kazaf (Edison Chen), the fifth prince. Kazaf and his loyal manservant Prada (no joke - and played by Anthony Wong) have taken up residence in an abandoned church in Hong Kong, and are valiantly trying to avoid the Duke's detection.

By chance, Kazaf meets Reeve's younger sister Helen (Charlene Choi), and the two develop a romantic relationship, although Kazaf has doubts of how a vampire-human dalliance will turn out to be. Meanwhile, Reeve finds out that the vampire-hunting agency he belongs to has assigned him with a perky young assistant Gypsy (Gillian Chung), who seems more like a hindrance than help in the beginning - until they start falling in love. However, when the Duke brings his entire posse to Hong Kong to try to subdue Kazaf, Reeve realizes that he needs all the help he could get.

Twins Effect may ostensibly be an action film revolving around vampires, but it is actually a romantic comedy and a star vehicle for the insanely popular pop duo Twins. And unfortunately, it does not function well as any of the three - the romantic sparks are nonexistent, the comedy is sporadically successful, and the roles of the Twins aren't memorable enough to carry the film. The action sequences are lackluster, despite action choreography by co-director Donnie Yen (who also choreographed Blade II, another vampire film). Much of this must be blamed on director Dante Lam, who displays an ineptness when it comes to filming the action, placing the camera too close to the actors. Also, for a budget of HK$50 million, the special effects are really poor, and aren't even on par with CGI of Hollywood films a decade back.

What's even more embarrassing is the complete lack of acting talent among the four leads. Ekin Cheng pulls off the stony look with aplomb but not much else, Edison Chen does nothing except looking alternately cute and sullen, Charlene Choi pouts her way through most of the film, and Gillian Chung is flat and simply unmemorable. There's probably more thespian talent in Maggie Cheung's little finger than the four performances combined. Add to this a lack of comic timing among the leads, and the hit-to-miss ratio of the jokes in the film is alarmingly high. Although an interesting cameo by Karen Mok and the slightly camp performance of Anthony Wong do redeem the proceedings somewhat, they are not onscreen long enough to make the film bearable.

The plot of Twins Effect is nothing you haven't seen before, but even in this aspect the film has several failings. There is a lack of internal consistency and logic in Twins Effect - in the first reel, the vampires are well nigh impossible to kill, only effectively slain by a blade through the heart, but by the final reel, the vampires are dropping like flies, banished with utmost ease. The denouement is also a terribly blatant rip-off of Blade, and ends the film with a limp pop rather than a bang. It's also a denouement that sets up the possibility of a sequel, which I fear, but would no doubt make its way to the cinemas based on the already-successful box office takings of the film in Hong Kong. Make no mistake, Twins Effect is high camp - unfortunately, it's camp done the wrong way, and the end result is one of the worst summer releases I have seen this year.

Final Word: The only horror you'll find in Twins Effect is when you realize, about 30 minutes into the film, that it is a horrific waste of time and money.