Even kids won’t get much of a kick out of this high-energy, low-IQ futuristic slugfest, which plays down to, and in many ways, below the level of some Saturday-morning cartoons. While “Double Dragon” has a hit videogame in its corner, “Super Mario Bros.” proved that’s no assurance of box office success, and more discerning tykes will likely bypass this hyperactive romp, squirreling away their cash for more game cartridges.
Beyond name recognition, the best things “Dragon” has going for it are the appealing leads, though both Mark Dacascos (who starred in Fox’s martial arter “Only the Strong”) and Scott Wolf (from Fox Broadcasting’s “Party of Five”) are rendered so dopey by the script that teen heartthrob status will have to wait for better vehicles.
Yet another sci-fi story set in earthquake-ravaged Los Angeles (the big joke is that the Hollywood sign is up to its “H” in water), under musicvideo director James Yukich’s pacing, “Dragon” never slows down long enough to explain half of what’s going on. That would be OK if the dialogue were more palatable, the nonstop action more inventive or the sets and special effects less cheesy.
Dacascos and Wolf play Jimmy and Billy Lee, teenage brothers whose mentor (Julia Nickson) possesses half of a dragon amulet that bestows certain powers on its holder.
The other half has been stolen by Koga Shuko, a power-obsessed mogul played so campily by Robert Patrick that even his bad haircut seems appropriate. Shuko spends the entire movie chasing the boys to get their half of the charm.
Yukich and writers Michael Davis and Peter Gould shoot for a sense of camp fun, but dialogue like “My whole life just flashed before my eyes. Dude, I sleep a lot!” makes it difficult not to laugh at them rather than with them.
“Dragon” does manage a few chuckles but little imagination. As an example, one of the few amusing moments — where the brothers let loose with a “Home Alone”-esque scream — is undercut by going back to the gag at least a half-dozen times.
Patrick, best-known as the evil cyborg in “Terminator 2,” proves a toothless villain here, and the brothers are surprisingly cavalier about achieving revenge upon him, indicative of the whole production’s lightweight tone. Another cheat is the fact that the dragon amulet isn’t made whole until the final reel, and even then, its power seems rather anti-climactic.
On the tech side, sets frequently look like something out of “Pee-wee’s Playhouse.” Matte shots of Hollywood under water are quaint, but a bit too obvious to enthrall sophisticated kids, who will recognize that this “Dragon” is , itself, a little wet behind the ears.