THE TWINS EFFECT [Chin gei
Region 2 (UK) Edition
Ekin Cheng, Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung, Jackie Chan
The Twins Effect is definitely one
of the strangest films I've seen. It's a modern-day vampire film that's
clearly been heavily influenced by the Blade movies and Buffy The
Vampire Slayer, but it's also a goofy comedy vehicle for the Hong Kong
equivalent of the Olsen Twins. Oh, and just for good measure (and, no
doubt, to improve its chances of being sold to Western audiences) it
features a cameo appearance by Hong Kong action legend Jackie Chan (who,
incidentally, also sings the film's theme music!)
I don't propose going into the plot in any
detail. If your curiosity hasn't already been piqued, then perhaps this
isn't the film for you! A few comments about the film are in order,
There's nothing in the film that hasn't
already been seen in other movies, but it's an amusing grab bag of
cultural and cinematic influences. It's certainly a film that doesn't feel
the need to explain, for example, how or why the city is overrun by
vampires. It just is. To the uninitiated, it feels a lot like watching a
sequel to a film you haven't seen.
The film has terrific production values,
including numerous CGI-enhanced effects which are perhaps a few years
behind the state-of-the-art work seen in movies like
It boasts a handful of energetic - and generally spectacular - fight
sequences (choreographed by the great Donnie Yen, who was, not
coincidentally, action director on Blade 2), yet there's something
lacking, especially in the scene where Jackie Chan's character, an
ambulance driver, defends his van against an attack by a couple of
vampires. In Chan's best films it's his incredible inventiveness with
props and scenery that make his fight scenes such a joy to watch. Here,
with all the paraphernalia of an ambulance at his disposal, the best the
guest star and his director can manage is a sequence where Chan has to run
on the spot as he hangs from the open driver's door. The film's action
sequences rely too much on gravity-defying wire work, which doesn't help.
It's hard to see who you could heartily
recommend the film to: it's not horrific enough for horror movie fans;
it's not funny enough to stand as a comedy. It's a film that tries to
serve several masters, and does none of them particularly well. The most
appreciative audience may well be teenage girls, but even they may
be turned off by some of the movie's nastier elements. The earlier
comparison to an Olsen Twins movie is a little unfair. Charlene Choi and
Gillian Chung - fluffy pop superstars who perform as The Twins, hence the
film's title - kick some serious butt here, and they're very cute, too.
(To give you some idea of how famous they are, this film was shot
around their existing pop princess commitments!)
The film is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic
widescreen format. The transfer is generally fine, with only some minor
dirt and sparkle. There's film grain throughout, especially evident in
some of the darker scenes, but this isn't at all detrimental, and I
mention it only because some reviews of the Region 1 version note an
absence of grain, which suggests to me that their version has been cleaned
up with a blast of digital noise reduction. Detail level is sometimes
slightly soft, but there is no evidence of artificial edge-enhancement.
Contrast range is fine, and colours are often very vibrant. Picture
quality is certainly better than you might expect from a Hong Kong movie,
and certainly on par with the best Hollywood B-movies. The average
bit-rate is 5.62Mb/sec.
The audio presentation is quite appealing.
There's a choice of Cantonese mixes: a 5.1 version (at 44kbps) and a 2.0
mix (at 224kbps), with optional player-generated English subtitles. The
5.1 offers plenty of front-weighted spectacle, and some nice surround
ambience, too. The audio design is frequently mundane, but occasionally
quite refreshing, with an interesting, spiky score by Kwong Wing Chan
which, sadly, doesn't get as much prominence as it probably deserved.
There's some oddness when the end credits
kick in: suddenly the audio mix goes very quiet, and the audio disappears
from the centre speaker. This may be a deliberate mixing choice, or
perhaps a fault. Either way it's hardly important.
THE BONUS MATERIAL
The lead bonus feature is The Making of
The Twins Effect (which, more accurately, perhaps, seems to be titled
The Arrival of a New World Order - The Making of The Twins Effect).
This fifteen-minute promotional featurette features interviews with key
cast and crew members, including Jackie Chan. The featurette is presented
in non-anamorphic widescreen format. Some of the interviewees speak in
English, others speak in their native tongue, with English subtitles.
There's a fair bit of behind-the-scenes footage, some shots of the Twins
being given martial arts training, and a chunk of a pop video of the
film's theme song (it's a shame this wasn't included in its entirety on
The disc also offers substantial
Interviews With Cast & Crew. Those contributing are cast members
Jackie Chan (14m), Gillian Chung (5m), Charlene Choi (11m), Josie Ho (5m),
Edison Chen (6m), and co-director Donnie Yen (12m). There's some crossover
here with the Making of... featurette, which extracted sound-bites
from these EPK-style interviews, but the vast bulk of the material is new.
The interviews are punctuated with captions that "ask" the questions - the
interviewer is never seen. There's nearly an hour's worth of material
here, so it's worth should not be blithely dismissed.
The disc features four trailers: two
theatrical trailers, an International Teaser Trailer, and an Asian Teaser
Trailer, which, if you didn't already know, reveals the film's origins as
a Summer 2003 blockbuster.
Incidentally, British-born Hong Kong cinema
expert Bey Logan, who has contributed numerous commentary tracks to discs
from specialist labels here in the UK, and has something of a cult
following in his own right, was a producer on the film. Universal has
missed a golden opportunity here, but not getting him to contribute a
The UK disc is much more appealing than
Columbia Tristar's American release (where it's been re-titled Vampire
Effect). Their version offers an alternate 5.1 track in English, but it's
a heavily-edited eighty-eight minute version, tweaked for the domestic
The US disc also lacks any meaningful bonus
materials, with only a handful of semi-related Columbia Tristar trailers
on offer (The Medallion, Underworld etc). The US release
prominently features Jackie Chan on the sleeve, and it's to Universal's
credit that they've resisted the temptation for the UK version.
One unwanted bonus feature is the addition
of a lengthy anti-piracy FACT trailer, which is the first thing you see
when you put in the disc. It's not skippable, and you might find yourself
getting mightily pissed-off by the time that it starts wittering about
copyright theft in Australia.
Universal has made considerable effort with
their Twins Effect disc: a lot more than the film probably
deserved, frankly. Hong Kong movie fans won't be disappointed with the
package on offer, and should be very grateful that the film's longer
version is the one Universal has used, but the film itself is lacklustre.