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Before we start, it’s perhaps a good idea to point out one thing about this movie: it exists primarily because of the success generated by the Hong Kong double-act, Twins, or ‘Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung’, to use their proper names. Known primarily as pop stars, the pair have since branched out into movies and have become an all-consuming brand (think Mary-Kate and Ashley but without quite so many dodgy rumours).

Twins Effect, The
Their eighth movie, The Twins Effect allows the two to showcase some kung-fu in a light-hearted vampire flick.  Filmed in Cantonese, this release has been subtitled—but let’s hope that the plot has not been lost in translation...

Film
The Twins Effect is (deep breath) a romantic-comedy-horror-action film, but rather than melding together the sub-genres, the screenwriters have chosen to handle them strictly one at a time. The beginning and ending are firmly rooted in action, while the leaden middle takes the form of a romantic comedy. The plot, for what it is, is really an excuse for a string of barely related scenes that differ drastically in tone.

Vampires walk the Earth. Don’t be too shocked, because it’s not that alarming to the characters in this movie. No, they all take it pretty much in their stride and let the 'Anti-Vampire League' battle the undead in peace. We’re swiftly introduced to one of the greatest hunters in the business, Reeve (Ekin Cheng), who’s on the look-out for a competent new partner. What he gets is Gypsy (Gillian Chung), an over-excitable groupie, prone to getting them into trouble in a couple of fight scenes. These are generally well-choreographed but something of a missed opportunity since the hero’s opponents lack any sense of menace. A duff make-up job for the vampires consists of colourful contact lenses and wolfman teeth—scary, this aint.

Rather than giving us a little exposition on the vampire hunters and their enemies, the screenwriters instead decide to dump us in the company of Reeve’s sister, Helen (Charlene Choi). She’s just been introduced to the mysterious Kazaf (Edison Chen). During the small-talk, Kazaf neglects to mention that he has a serious penchant for drinking blood and sleeping in a coffin. Despite living with a couple of slayers, Helen doesn’t twig that her new bloke is a blood-sucking vampire. Fortunately, Kazaf is a ‘nice vampire’ and his mind is firmly set on romance rather than biting necks.

Twins Effect, The
It’s at this point, that the film derails into the territory of romantic comedy and the characters of Reeve and Gypsy, and the action sequences for that matter, are shoved into the background until the third act. As a comedy, the film is largely dire with a fair amount of over-acting and a reliance on farce. The chief perpetrator is Jackie Chan in an unfunny and largely irritating cameo.

As a romance, the film fairs little better. The relationships are skimmed over with blatant disinterest from the director. As with the general narrative of the film, the audience is required to fill in the gaps, presumably by drawing on experience of other, better films.

Suddenly forced into giving the audience something that resembles a climax, a macguffin that can give vampires unlimited power is shoehorned into the plot. Together with the awkward convergence of the four characters, that have spent the film apart, the finale brings the movie back into the realms of action and sits at odds with the preceding forty-five minutes. A final fight-scene is stretched out to compensate for the lack of action in the second act and finally, mercifully, the credits roll.

Rather than spreading itself thinly over a selection of genres, couldn't the producers had simply chosen one and concentrated on bringing that to the screen? A mixture of genres, if done well, can generate amazing results (see Shaun of the Dead for a recent example) but when the humour is sign-posted and the action flits between being grit and farce, the end product is usually something of a mess.

The Twins Effect is not without merit and, however daft it becomes, it remains strangely watchable. However, to persevere with this film means you must have popped it into your player in the first place. And that’s something I just can’t recommend.  

Twins Effect, The
Video
The picture quality on The Twins Effect is reminiscent of a relatively high-budget US drama. Definition is missing in the contrast between colours making the images look slightly dull. The ropey CGI is where things start to look patchier, with the bright shades becoming over-saturated and lacking clarity. Occasionally, a bit of grime is present on the print for a frame or two. Overall, this is pretty substandard compared to most Hollywood releases.

Audio
While I'm not going to go into raptures about the quality of the soundtrack—a bizarre mix of classical music, panpipes and trappings that are more befitting of an action film—it does all sound pretty nice on this 5.1 track. The fact that several key scenes take place in churches and railway stations means that we get the occasional echo, which is always nicely handled. Even the overblown effects sound pretty good, although you might want to turn down the volume on the front speaker as the Cantonese dialogue can get pretty overbearing. A 2.0 mix is also included, although once again it's in Cantonese. Alternate languages would have been welcome.

Extras
The Behind the Scenes Featurette is a fairly short (sixteen minutes) promo for the film, mainly revolving around a few interviews interspersed with the occasional clip.

The Interviews with Cast and Crew should perhaps be renamed ‘Interviews with the cast and the co-director', as Donnie Yen is the only crew member who gets a look-in. The interviews vary in length, with Jackie Chan getting the lion’s share of the questions, despite being in the film for just two scenes. View them all together and you have a fairly long insight into the film, but interesting facts are few and far between. Finally we have four Trailers. You’re spoiling us, Universal!

Twins Effect, The
Overall
If you're looking for a nice slice of Eastern culture, then carry on looking. This DVD is strictly for those curious enough to give a bizarre film a rent. The short supply of extras and below-par transfer can do little to redeem a mess of a movie, which can't seem to make up its mind about what type of film it truly is.


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