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Twins Mission

(left) Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung, and (right) Wu Jing and a bunch of punching bags.

Let's Steal Together

Chinese: 双子神偸  
Year: 2007  
Director: Benz Kong To-Hoi
  Producer: Tsui Siu-Ming, Amy Lee Fung-Ming
  Writer: Tsui Siu-Ming, Fong Sai-Keung
Action: Benz Kong To-Hoi

Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin, Gillian Chung Yun-Tung, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Wu Jing, Yuen Wah, Jess Zhang, Steven Cheung Chi-Hung, Sam Lee Chan-Sam, Sek Sau, Qiu Lier, Bat Leung-Gum

The Skinny: It's craptastic! Twins Mission is a shining example of manufactured, quality-deficient, big budget Hong Kong Cinema. The action can sometimes amuse, but the illogical narrative, crappy special effects, and general sloppiness make this one to forget. At least the kids will like it.
by Kozo:

They won't go away, and most people don't want them to. Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung, AKA: The Twins, are now their own institution, having created a complete minigenre of sloppy motion pictures packaged entirely around their grinning, uber-cute mugs. In a time when Hong Kong Entertainment is seriously suffering, these two girls have managed to capture the hearts and wallets of numerous preteens (and disturbingly enough, even some post-teens) looking for the latest and not-so-greatest out of Hong Kong.

Still, the girls themselves aren't really that bad, and have shown some talent amidst the sloppy blockbusters, cheesy music videos, and shopping mall appearances their EEG indentured service contracts stipulate. Though they've yet to graduate to true A-list actor status, the girls have something going for them beside marketing support. Unfortunately, Twins Mission doesn't do anything to expand on whatever potential the Twins possess, and instead serves up a messy and frankly inane motion picture that wastes the talents of nearly everyone involved. At least your kids may enjoy it.

The terrible EEG twosome play Jade and Pearl, a couple of acrobatic circus girls who are actually billed as twins, though really look very little alike. The girls spend their days performing in the circus, while sparring over their mutual obsession with David Copperfield. You see, the girls REALLY like David Copperfield, and will even engage in mini kung-fu battles in their dressing room over who gets to be Copperfield's future wife. They also argue over an autographed photo of Copperfield during a circus performance, whereupon the photo ends up in a hungry hippo's maw. This is obviously comedy gold. Forget the fact that neither girl knows David Copperfield, what's scary here is that someone actually wrote this plot point into the film and assumed it would be interesting enough to carry three or four scenes in a major motion picture. It obviously isn't that interesting, but neither is the rest of Twins Mission, which makes those Twins Effect movies look like rich narrative masterpieces. Yes, Twins Mission is that ill-conceived.

Here's the rundown on Twins Mission: before they became drooling David Copperfield groupies, the girls were previously members of a weird organization known as "The Twins", where groups of twins were trained into kung-fu masters in order to perpetrate spiffy feats of high-tech thievery. A former member of the Twins is Lau Hay (Wu Jing), whose twin brother is deathly ill with cancer. Lau Hay is traveling with a roving Buddhist caravan led by Uncle Luck (Sammo Hung), who's charged with protecting the "Heaven's Bead", a cheap-looking MacGuffin that supposedly has mystical healing powers.

However, some evil Twins are after the Bead, because their boss, Mr. Mok (Sek Sau), wants it to trade it with the beautiful Lilian (Jess Zhang), who owns a plot of land that he's after. Mok figures she'll trade the land for the Bead because her sister Happy (Qiu Lier) has cancer. But Mok's shadowy partner-in-crime apparently wants the Bead for other reasons, though its never truly explained. What we do know is that the Bead has somehow ended up with sex shop proprietor Fred (Steven Cheung of Boy'z), who hides out in a shopping mall after the evil Twins force feed rats to his buddy. Fearing a similar fate, he hides in his own shop and doesn't run away like a smart guy would.

Somehow, Uncle Luck and former Twins leader Chang Chung (Yuen Wah) convince Pearl, Jade, and a bunch of good Twins members to join them to stop Mok from getting the Bead. Or maybe they don't want Mok to get the land. Or maybe their goal is simply restoring the estranged relationship between Chang Chung and his former Twins charges, which soured after he left them with the circus, removed their Twins-identifying tattoos by searing them with an iron, and broke his promise to buy them McDonald's hamburgers. Um...yeah.

We'll stop talking about the plot now because if you haven't figured it out already, it's pretty much a mess. As crappy storylines go, Twins Mission takes the cake, because it doesn't even provide a logical reason for any of its onscreen excesses to occur. Is all this hand-wringing occurring because everyone wants to save the crying girl with cancer? Or is there a larger value to the Heaven's Bead that causes people to throw away their lives and enlist in a completely unnecessary crusade? Why can't Mok find an easier, less roundabout way to get the land he's looking for? And is the promise of some kung-fu action worth this completely inane and incomprehensible movie?

The answer to that last question: sometimes. Twins Mission does serve up the requisite doses of energetic martial arts action, and it does it frequently enough that one may forgive the film's other glaring debits. The fights involving the Twins aren't so hot; they're heavily wire-assisted and largely edited to hide the fact that the girls are doubled. Luckily, the lion's share of martial arts action is performed by Sammo Hung, Yuen Wah, and Wu Jing - in other words, guys who actually know their stuff instead of miniature girls who are just faking it. If you're looking for scenes of the three martial artists going at it, then you may find some joy in Twins Mission, provided that you do two things: lower your expectations and hit the fast-forward button to skip all the filler.

The film's action sequences are not inventive or especially noteworthy, though they do provide enough impact and routine flair to entertain. The filmmakers have the good sense to let Wu Jing handle the most key martial arts sequences, relegating the Twins to comic relief duty during the film's loaded climax. There's also the opportunity to see a rare Yuen Wah vs. Yuen Wah match, plus the presumably amusing sight of seeing scads of real-life twins duking it out. In one of the film's unique achievements, real twins were cast as the movie's Twins, meaning these are actors who can fake kung-fu AND have a twin sibling. Apparently you can find anything in China.

Sadly, the action is only one portion of Twins Mission, and the rest is hard to deem as acceptable. Aside from the criminally uninteresting plot, the film is directed in a messy and unconvincing manner, and possesses leaden exposition and a bombastic music score that's never earned. The actors don't play characters as much as they play character outlines, and their personal trials and conflicts are barely developed, if not completely nonexistent. Also, the CG effects are amateurish in a manner unbecoming of a film industry wishing to be taken more seriously. Worst of all, the filmmakers have the gall to set things up for a sequel, which is an iffy prospect anyway because Twins Mission doesn't even generate enough interest to warrant its own existence, let alone a sequel. The characters and situations never interest that much, so why should anyone out there want a sequel? Just so we can get more crappy visual effects and faked fighting by the Twins? Have Hong Kong audiences really sunk that low?

Probably yes, as the current vogue of popstar-fueled everything in Hong Kong Cinema is as much a reflection of the public's tastes as it is of EEG's marketing muscles. Justified or not, people like the Twins, and Twins Mission is fast and silly enough to charm the preteen audience that snaps up their CDs, photo albums, and diet drinks. They may not even mind that the Twins are just ensemble players here, since the girls do appear in their most popular variation, i.e. as adorable, feisty girls whose cuteness is as non-threatening as it is photogenic. The rest of us will merely have to contend ourselves with the decent action, plus another missed opportunity to see the Twins do something other than smile, pout, and act silly. The Twins have been around for six years and fans are forever talking about their potential. They seem to have some, so wouldn't now be the time to build upon it? They can't stay this young and charming forever, so building upon the promise shown in films like Funeral March, Beyond Our Ken, Diary, or even A Chinese Tall Story would be a good way to go for either girl. It would be better for us, too. (Kozo 2007)

Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 3 NTSC
Kam & Ronson
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles

images courtesy of Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen