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千機變II花都大戰 (2004)
The Twins Effect II

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 11/07/2008
Summary: I was expecting better, believe it or not...

Men are “dumbbells”: slaves to women to be bought and sold and used by the superior sex as they see fit. However, a plaque exists that can release men from slavery and banish the evil Queen who forbids love.

The first TWINS EFFECT movie was a decent enough romp with a few enjoyable touches. The sequel, though, is a sequel in name only, and has absolutely nothing at all to do with the first film. This is a shame, as I was up for revisiting more lightweight vampire-bashing fun. Instead, the action shifts to an ancient fantasy setting with a frankly preposterous premise.

One thing that strikes the viewer right away is the lavish production. Quite simply, the film looks fantastic, and it’s obvious quite a bit of money was spent on it. It does feel as though the budget all went on the visuals, as the script is somewhat limp at times. As you would expect, there is an emphasis on special effects, and for the most part, they don’t disappoint, but the fight scenes are CGI’ed to death in what is now becoming as common a practice in Hong Kong cinema as it is in the west.

The leads, apart from the Twins themselves, are mostly unremarkable: Wilson Chen is entirely forgettable and Jaycee Chan plays the kind of overly earnest hero that begins to grate after a while, and both seem far too gawky to be given such prominent roles. As for the Twins, Charlene is intermittently irritating and Gillian is obviously stronger on the more physical aspects, but neither is pushed into unfamiliar territory. It’s only Tony Leung Ka-Fai, as a truly oddball sex-shifting character who really stays in the memory for longer than five minutes. Donnie Yen doesn’t do anything particularly memorable and Daniel Wu’s eunuch to the dark Queen will probably only be remembered for his massive (and I MEAN massive) hat.

And that’s really the problem with TWINS EFFECT II – it’s not bad at any point; it’s just really, really forgettable. Again, Jackie Chan is wheeled out to give a brief action cameo and again he actually distracts the viewer away from the rest of the material in his duel with Donnie Yen. The fight is enjoyable enough for fans of fantasy CGI, but when the action shifts back to the stars of the film, you do get the impression that the scene was shoehorned in to get more of an audience.

It’s ironic that a genre that’s supposed to be so imaginative usually ends up with so many samey devices like “chosen ones” and generic prophesies to be fulfilled, and TWINS EFFECT II falls into just about every cliched trap it can. Like so many blockbusters, it passes the time but is so lightweight it would fly up to the heavens with the slightest breeze.

It contains a few laughs, a couple of good effects, a bit of (slightly) post-teenage romance and angst and some lovely visuals. Apart from that, it’s sadly empty. Now, I never expected to ever write this, but I was really hoping for something like the Twins had done before.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 10/14/2007
Summary: Twins fans only

At first glance one might think “what are Gillian Chung and and Charlene Choi doing in an action movie?”since “Twins Effect II” is both directed and action directed by Corey Yeun and features Donnie Yen and Jackie Chan. But a second look, providing one has been paying any attention at all to Hong Kong cinema over the past five years, confirms that the Twins and their youthful male counterparts are the stars here while the martial arts guys (along with an unrecognizable Big Tony Leung) are just along to fill time and perhaps draw a few ticket buyers or DVD renters from an older demographic.

The movie is of no consequence at all. The digital doubles for Gillian and Charlene are impressive during the first stunt but after that, when we have seen that Charlene can’t even look good while running it is just too obvious that any type of action scene would be impossible. The audience doesn’t have to think that an actor is really able to carry out high flying wuxia stunts but there should be some basis, however slight, to suspend disbelief. It isn’t provided here. Charlene continues to do cute very well but needs roles that require more of her. Gillian seems a bit more invested in her part but still winds up acting serious in a cute way.

The set design is opulent, highly detailed and the best part of the movie. The costumes are gorgeous and the overall look of “Twins Effect II” is excellent--clearly a lot of time, money and talent went into it. The use of CGI is intrusive and obvious. Jaycee Chan brings new meaning to the term “wooden”—his father, while still encased in the eternal armor of a terra cotta warrior, was a more convincing actor. Neither Chan nor Wilson Chen shows any reason for them to be cast as teen heartthrobs. They are not particularly pleasant looking—not ugly, just plain and common—which stands out in this type of project which is full of extremely attractive actors. First among them is Qu Ying as the Empress, an extremely comely performer, blessed with great beauty in, in this film at least, with charisma to burn. She is one of those very fortunate film actors that the camera simply loves. Another is Fan Bing-Bing whose make-up and hairstyle emphasized her strikingly angular look.

This, like most of the Twins movies I would imagine, is recommended only for fans of the duo.

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 09/18/2007
Summary: charlene strikes back!

in the land of huadu, the evil empress ya ge (qu ying) rules with an iron fist: men are second-class citizens, known as dumbells, who are bought and sold as slaves. however, all is not lost, as a prophecy tells how a man will discover excalibur, become king and overthrow the empress' tyrannical regime.

when a map comes into the possession of two travelling performers, charcoal head (jaycee chan) and blockhead (wilson chen), they decide to set out to find the treasure, they think, it is pointing to, unaware that it is showing them the location of excalibur. accompanying them on their journey are 13th master (charlene choi), a dumbell trader who wants the treasure for herself, and blue bird (gillian chung), a member of the empress' guards who is trying to steal excalibur for her.

well, i suppose that the first thing to say is that, apart from a few cast members, this film has nothing, at all, to do with the first 'twins effect' film. if, like me, you can count 'the twins effect' as a guilty pleasure, then you'll probably enjoy this as well. if you're expecting something wonderful, packed with stunning choreography and assume that the confrontation between donnie yen's crouching tiger hidden dragon (a mysterious warrior, who is doing all he can to see the empress overthrown) and jackie chan's wei cheng (an incarnation of the former lord of the royal armoury, who now guards excalibur) is going to rank among the best ever, on-screen, combat you've ever seen, then you're going to be sadly disappointed.

the film, as you should expect, is pure fluff; a silly, light-weight, adventure, with a couple of laughs, a touch of romance, good versus evil and a mixture of some nice, and not so nice, cgi assisted action sequences. the twins (charlene and gillian) are as good (or, bad) as usual, with charlene going for cuteness, whilst gillian has a stab at being glacial, even though you know she's going to thaw out...

jaycee chan does a reasonable job, considering it's his feature debut, and wilson chen does what is required. still, it is the supporting cast of characters that add a bit more substance; big tony leung is just plain weird as the leader of the travelling troupe of performers, fan bing-bing (swoon) is suitably lovely as the evil empress' evil spy, donnie yen strikes a few poses, jackie chan turns up for a fight which, although it is by no means great, is the best bit of action in the film and, finally, daniel wu turns up and does his best to win some kind of prize for the most ludicrous on-screen hat.

fluff, but enjoyable fluff...

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/08/2006

My understanding was that Twins Effect 2 was changed from a proper sequel to the Twins' vampire-busting film to a period film because the (mainland) Chinese authorities wouldn't allow a film to be released that featured "supernatural" elements, such as vampires. I am a bit puzzled now though, because Twins Effect 2 features plenty of supernatural things - no monsters, but lots of magic powers and what-not (and prophecies of destiny etc). It's slightly reminiscent of The Stormriders, but less epic and vastly more juvenile :)

Gillian & Charlene play "Dumbbell Traders" - women who trade in male slaves, in a land ruled by an evil queen where all men are slaves and love is outlawed. Jackie Chan's son and some gawky teenager play two such dumbbells, who come across an artefact that implies one of them might be the true king of the land - thus begins a quest, of sorts, and a love story. Aw, how sweet?

Charlene is in full on sassy mode again, whilst Gillian has the quieter, more serious role (again). The film makes it clear just how much Ah Gil has outgrown Ah Sa in every way - her acting and her appearance are much more mature, and I think the time for the Twins phenomenon must be running out. I think this is the debut film for Jackie Chan's son, and I'm sure nobody is at their best when they're thrust into a leading role for their first performance, but I have to say he comes off especially badly - he has zero acting ability or charisma, and he's sadly inherited his father's looks (but without the talent to compensate). Daniel Wu gives a fairly good performance, and Donnie Yen has presence as a character called "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon", but the only really great performance in the film is a hilarious cameo from Leung Ka Fai.

The film does have high production values, with some great sets and costumes, but they're kind of wasted on the juvenile story and direction. There was potentially a great film in here, but not with this cast and crew.

The film does have quite a few fight scenes, choreographed by Donnie Yen I would assume, since they rely heavily on over the top wirework and his personal favourite, digital stuntmen. There are some very innovative wire sequences, but the quality of the computer graphics is very poor, and the digital scenes are very unconvincing and unimpressive. The special effects in this film are actually worse than those in Stormriders. The action scenes also suffer from some major plagiarism - there are lots of moves and shots lifted from any number of Yuen Wo Ping films, which is to be expected from Donnie, but there are also a couple of shots ripped off blatantly from Ryuhei Kitamura's AZUMI. Does he really need to resort to that? Worse still, the highly anticipated Jackie vs Donnie fight is almost a remake of the Donnie vs Jet fight in HERO. How short does he think people's memories are?

All in all, Twins Effect 2 is not a good film - but it has moments that are enjoyable, especially if you think of it as a kid's film, which I guess you have to expect with a vehicle for Twins. Given the time and budget they had for making the film, it's somewhat unforgivable that they didn't do a better job though.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: j.crawford
Date: 07/23/2005
Summary: pretty, entertaining film

Talented directors, Corey Yuen and Patrick Leung, cobble entertaining film from convoluted screenplay. Pop music sensations, The Twins, are cast in fantasy wuxia with veteran movie stars Donnie Yen, "Big" Tony Leung, and Daniel Wu. Five, count 'em, 5 screenwriters contributed to weak pastiche of genre cliches unrelated to first film in any way other than the title.

Lots of fun and hijinks in a strange world were an evil powerful queen subjugates all men as slaves. As in the first film, Jackie Chan has a cameo role as a terra cotta warrior who does battle with Donnie Yen in sequence that is a joy to behold. Action direction by Cory Yuen is up to the usual standard of excellence. Movie has excellent production values; cinematography, costumes and set design are top notch. Like the original film, CGI special effects achieve mixed results.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 12/09/2004

Yay! Another Twins movie! You know that we couldn't go more than three months without yet another on-screen pairing of the cutsey pop duo, right? Anyway, I have to admit that I actually liked the first Twins Effect movie. Sure, it was a dopey picture, but the girls had a certain amount of charm that made it enjoyable. However, like a batch of cotton candy that you've had one too many bites of or a six-pack of Mike's Hard Lemonade, Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi's sweet antics are starting to make me nauseous.

The results here aren't as bad as the duo's previous teaming in Protoge de la Rose Noire, but honestly, that's not saying too much. A lot of people have been saying Hong Kong cinema is dead in the water. I will grant that the output as a whole is nowhere near as good as it was during the "golden age" of the late 1980's-early 1990's, but there have still been some solid movies coming out of Hong Kong recently, like the excellent One Nite in Mongkok, a film which came out with little fanfare that has managed to impress most everyone who has seen it. However, The Twins Effect II is yet another example of what's wrong with the "big-budget" (relatively speaking) productions coming out of Hong Kong nowadays -- it just seems like the film-makers are throwing everything at the proverbial wall to see if anything sticks. Nothing really sticks here; it just kind of stinks.

There's a lot of stars, a veteran director, and a big dose of special effects, but none of these elements really seem to gel together to create a good movie. I'm sure I'm probably not the target audience for this film (since I'm a male over the age of thirteen), but even "bubblegum" or "popcorn" films can be highly entertaining if they're done right -- The Twins Effect II isn't. The script is meandering, the characters are under-developed, there's too much computer trickery in the action sequences, and (worst of all) the picture is just downright boring in parts.

I'm sure some of you might still want to check out The Twins Effect II since it's the on-screen debut of Jackie Chan's son, Jaycee. Well, based on his performance here, don't hold your breath waiting for him to take his dad's place in the Hong Kong movie food chain. He doesn't have the charisma or the moves of Papa Chan, and his acting is average to say the least. I'm not saying that he won't become a good actor one day (hell, I've even grown to somewhat like guys like Ekin Cheng and Edison Chen, actors which used to make bile rise in my throat) but as for now, the mantle of the "next big star" in Hong Kong cinema is still up for grabs.

Speaking of Jackie, there is a decent fight scene between him and Donnie Yen (who plays a character named "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" -- with five writers on the movie, you would think they could come up with a better moniker than that) but it uses too much CGI and doesn't create any real excitement. There's a lot of bells and whistles, but there's nothing genuine under the layers of special effects and fancy camerawork. It's a good metaphor for The Twins Effect II as a whole.

This is a nice-looking movie that has some good moments in it, but there's nothing here that really compels the viewer and actually pulls them into the film to make them truly care about the characters and what happens to them. Again, I know that The Twins Effect II isn't supposed to be a deep drama or hard-hitting action movie, but I have to think that even major fans of the Twins (or the other pop stars like Wilson Chen who were stuffed into the picture for marketing's sake) are starting to expect more from them than middle-of-the-road pablum like this.

[review from]

Reviewed by: PAUL MARTINEZ
Date: 11/11/2004
Summary: Don't Take it Seriously

Part 2 of the series goes into an entirely different direction. Nevertheless it retains the light-hearted fun the first one had. Focusing on Humor, CGI, a little Martial Arts and absolutely stunning leading ladies.

The story was simple to put it mildly. But compared to some of the overly convoluted storytelling I've seen in recent HK productions, it was very welcome to see. Any so-called plot twists you can see coming a mile away and the ending seemed to be missing something. Overall though, it was enjoyable.

The acting could have been better. Although I think Charlene Choi has incredible screen presence. I found myself visibly smiling during her scenes. Jackie's offspring could definately benefit from some more acting lessons.

The use of CGI graphics were ok not TOO overdone. I've come to realize this is part of HK film making now and I've become more tolerant of it. I thouroughly enjoyed the fight scene between Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen. Good action with no clear-cut winner. Of course their battle made no sense but who cares.

This is a fun movie just as the first installment was. I would love to see another starring the Twins. I think they are ready to do something more serious now. We'll have to see what the film studios think. As for this one, go see it don't expect to be moved or wowed. Just enjoy it.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 10/23/2004
Summary: Worst than the first!!

No way related to the first except that its a BAD movie!! The fight between Donnie yen and Jackie chan doesn't fit into the storyline, the characters are all different, action was boring, characters annoying but you do see "mini Jackie" just look for the family nose!!

Wasted my time i can't get back watching this!!


Reviewed by: barrst
Date: 10/04/2004
Summary: Inventive, somewhat fun

In a land where men are slaves, you really want the Twins to be your masters.

The downsides to this movie are some of the acting and the weak plot.

Beyond that, the fights are inventive (if heavily CGI enhanced), the look of the film is very comic-book like, and Charlene Choi is very fun to watch as she hams it up. Go in with low expectations and you won't be too disappointed.