Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Gweilo Dojo: TWIN DRAGON ENCOUNTER (1986)

How did I miss this one back in the day? This crazy Canuck kickboxing classic is so absurdly entertaining for so little money that even David Prior would have to doff his cap.

A couple of real life, blow-dried, porn-'stached, black belt, kickboxing sensei twins (Michael and Martin McNamara) play a couple of blow-dried, porn-'stached, black belt, kickboxing sensei twins name Mike and Mark who decide to leave the "Tw n Dragons" (sic) dojo and head out to their private island (!) with their girlfriends for a vacation. Of course they can't even get to the island without running into trouble. After leaving work, the brothers decide to meet each other at the beach after dark to solidify their plans. One of them (honestly, I am not sure which one) randomly parks his van in the dark in order to read a newspaper. Suddenly he hears screams coming from a nearby park and runs over to find some "scum" harassing a girl and her dog. We know they are scum because the twin dragon keeps trying to get their attention by yelling "Hey scum! Hey scum!" and out of nowhere the other twin shows up to help kick butt. The best part though is the main scum who seems to be attacking the girl, not so he can rape or kill her, but so he can hold her down and caress her face! Damn, that the problem with Canadians, they can't even properly assault innocent females. They can, however, assault innocent dogs, as our scum dude quickly snatches up the girl's dog when confronted by the twins! Not the dog! Oh he's a bad man.

As if this wasn't enough to set up the main plot, the guys with their girls in tow stop at a greasy spoon. Of course the boys have to prove their machismo by flirting with the waitress who playfully prods them by accusing them of being wild with the girls. To which one twin, oozing with sex appeal, quips "Girls? We don't see any girls. Just a couple of guys in drag!" In addition to being smoother than a glass of Kessler and a Barry White record, these guys just broke the fourth wall. How? Well, we know damn sure that this is a work of fiction because any real woman would give those losers a swift kick in the prairie oysters after a comment like that! Since this shockingly doesn't cause any trouble whatsoever, the truckers at the next table decide it's on them to stir up some action hurling viscous insults like "you better drink your milk and cookies boy, so you grow up big and strong" and "I drive a Mac truck, maybe I'll drive you!"

With priceless lines like those, I don't even care about the fights. This is fortunate because while the brothers may be legit badasses, they cannot choreograph a fight scene to save their lives. To compensate for this all of the fight footage, barring a few moments near the beginning and end, is in comical slow-motion. Still, once the truckers are laid out, we get one of the twins making their exit with the line "Confucius say: When fighting truckers, nail the suckers." Was Confucius drunk when he said that?

These guys would rather be sawing logs...
While unloading their stuff, a group of fatigue-clad hosers in a boat with the words "People's Private Army" crudely painted on the side, decide to hassle the girls and call the brothers kids! Why does everyone do that? After another slo-mo fight scene, the cigar-chewing, peroxide mohawked leader Jake (B. Bob - who?) declares war on the brothers! Well, at a later date anyway. Word has it that every year Jake leads a group of weekend commandos out to the area to hassle the locals and any time someone stands up to him, they disappear! Sounds like a job for the Twin Drago- uhhh, no, they really don't care. It takes gripping canoe confrontation and the reprehensible theft of their promotional poster ("our poster's gone!") which Jake takes back to his camp and kicks a hole in (after a failed attempt), to get their dander up. Even worse after repeated threats by Jake the guys decide that they should go off and do man stuff, leaving the girls behind, not once, not twice, but three times ("there's the water, go swim")! When Jake kidnaps the girls, the knuckleheads decide that the girls must be playing a joke on them. Says one of the twins "I bet right now they're in the bushes laughing and giggling waiting for us to do something stupid." Uhhh, that won't take long.

It is really amazing that these guys have any friends at all, and quite frankly, they probably wouldn't even care. Twins are weird. Their idea of funny consists of beating up some friends of their friend Frank who is teaching them how to poach game on the island. After beating the hunters into unconsciousness, they steal one of each of their shoes.  If that wasn't hilarious enough, after leaving their girlfriends alone at night after death threats have been levied against them, they decide to sneak up and scare the shit out of them while they toast marshmallows, shivering by a campfire. Maybe they are guys in drag. Clearly the brothers don't want to get laid here. In order to make it up to the girls, they bust out the big surprise that they had been promising for the entire trip. In addition to being what seems to be the initiators of the rather brief "kickboxing twins" fad of the late '80s and early '90s, apparently they inspired the creation of "Duck Dynasty" too, as the big surprise turns out to be a small blind built in a tree. These guys must have off shore bank accounts and dicks the size of telephone phone poles to keep these ladies from dumping them faster than Taco Bell goes through a college student.

Eventually the twins get geared up for war. Fortunately they packed their camo karate gis with matching bandannas and set out to take down Jake and his possee, in slow motion.

Canada is known for its hilarious comic talent such as Dan Akroyd, Bob and Doug McKenzie, Rob Ford... but the McNamara brothers take themselves deadly serious, even when they are trying (I say "trying") to be funny. Of course this is a good thing as this is one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. Not only is it peppered with amazing dialogue, but it also sports a spectacular opening sequence and theme song by a man that puts the "butt" in "buttrock" that plays out like a mashup of NINE DEATHS OF THE NINJA (1985) meets MIAMI CONNECTION (1987). With lyrics like "after every night comes another day, after every day comes another night" the track insists that you have to "Fight! Fight for the right to fight!" If this doesn't turn you into a giggling mess on your sofa, you are reading the wrong blog.

To their credit, the brothers have been hugely influential on the sport of kickboxing and quite possibly inspired the classic 1987 video game Double Dragon. The brothers unsuccessful sued Jackie Chan over his completely unrelated 1992 film TWIN DRAGONS, while completely ignoring the only vaguely more similar 1991 Jean Claude Van Damme vehicle DOUBLE IMPACT. TWIN DRAGON ENCOUNTER was successful enough to pave the way for a sequel, DRAGON HUNT (1990), in which Jake returns to ruin yet another vacation, and a quasi-documentary about oppressive martial arts regulations that the twins (I swear I'm not making this up) have refused to release as a protest to the obstructive laws that the film is protesting! Yeah, tell me that isn't genius.

Moments of Clarity:

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