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The Twins Effect
|     review    |     notes     |     awards     |     availability     |


Twins Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi make like Buffy in The Twins Effect.
AKA: The Vampire Effect (US Title)  
Chinese: 千機變  
Year: 2003  
Director: Dante Lam Chiu-Yin  
Action: Donnie Yen Ji-Dan
Cast:

Charlene Choi Cheuk-Yin, Gillian Chung Yun-Tung, Ekin Cheng Yee-Kin, Edison Chen, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Mickey Hardt, Josie Ho Chiu-Yi, Jackie Chan, Karen Mok Man-Wai, Cheung Tat-Ming, Chapman To Man-Chat, Spencer Lam Seung-Yi, Matthew Chow Hoi-Kwong, Mandy Chiang Nga-Man, Winnie Leung Man-Yi,Michael Clements

The Skinny: It lives up to the hype! That is, if there ever was any. The Twins Effect is silly, disposable, and loaded with cheesy hijinks and crappy acting. It's also efficient and amusing brain dead fun, and at the very least cuter than your average Hollywood blockbuster. Pick your poison.
 
Review
by Kozo:

If there's any doubt left that the diminutive duo of Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung have taken over Hong Kong, then this film should dispel it. Ostensibly, The Twins Effect is an action-comedy about a couple of vampire-killing cuties, with timeouts for comedy and romance, some kickass kung-fu choreography by Donnie Yen, and a mega-publicized cameo by Jackie Chan. In reality, it's the Emperor Multimedia Group's marketing masterstroke, a 100-minute commercial for their resident pop superstars The Twins and associated other properties (Ekin Cheng, Edison Chen, etc.). It was also Hong Kong's highest-grossing film of Summer 2003, and the movie on which the hopes of many HK Cinema fans have been placed.

So does it live up to the hype? Well, the easy answer is: No. The Twins Effect does not reinvent the wheel, nor does it create a fantastic new genre of special effects Hong Kong movies. The fighting contains obvious wirework, the acting is full of egregious highs (nearly the entire cast overacts at certain moments) and annoying lows (Edison Chen's "cool" act borders on comatose), and the film's comedy can be unfunny and even sophomoric. Those hoping that the The Twins Effect will herald in a new era of HK commercial cinema could be disappointed. But when actual filmmaking aspirations get stripped away, something rather amusing and even fun is left. The Twins Effect has popstar panache to spare, and even though it fails to be anything but a commercial piece of crap, fun can be had.

The Twins star as a couple of cute young things, but we don't even get to see them until twenty minutes in. Nope, the first twenty minutes of the film are spent educating the viewers in the intriguing (not) backstory of the made-to-order Twins Effect world. Apparently, there is a "League" of elite vampire hunters who rely on vampire blood to provide them with the power to take down the undead. Among them is Reeve (Ekin Cheng), a dashing hunter who loses his partner/lover Josie Ho in the film's opening moments. Depressed, he vows never to fall in love with his partner again. Sudden idea: why not get a male partner?

Meanwhile, vampire royalty Prince Kazaf (Edison Chen) moves into a church somewhere in Hong Kong with attendant Prada (Anthony Wong). There's apparently some inter-clan vampire strife going on back in vampireland (or wherever these fiends hail from). Kazaf happens to be a good vampire, who only drinks blood from bottles, and doesn't suck from the necks of victims. Never mind that the blood had to come from somewhere (Kazaf's royal dad probably does the killing and bottles the brew), Kazaf is a character to be liked and sympathized with. He's nice, sleeps in a dope tricked-out coffin, and is played by Edison Chen. That mean's he's totally hot and ultra-sensitive to the needs of teenybopper-type girls everywhere. If all vampires looked like Edison Chen, victims would be beating the door down to get to him.

And with that set up, enter the main attraction: two pint-sized popstars with more spunk and cuddliness than should be humanly possible. Taller Twin Charlene Choi is Helen, the sister to depressed vampire stalker Reeve, and a wacky sort of a girl. When we first meet her she's giving her ex-boyfriend (Chapman To, appearing in his 300th Hong Kong film of the year) hell. Luckily she meets Kazaf, who immediately takes a shine to her. The two begin an odd courtship, hampered by the fact that Kazaf is suspiciously averse to sunlight and has other odd habits like drinking blood. You'd think the sister to a vampire hunter would have some clue where all this is going, but strangely Helen has no idea. Yes, the screenwriters possess ungodly power.

At the same time, Reeve gets a new partner: Gypsy, played by shorter Twin Gillian Chung. Like Helen, Gypsy is a character that could only exist in the movies. She signs up to work with the dashing Reeve because he's the hottest vampire hunter around, and besides, he has amazing hair. Reeve doesn't want to fall in love with his partner again, but how could he not? This is a Twin we're talking about. Even more, Gypsy wants to tend to Reeve's every need, i.e. cleaning, cooking, and acting like little Missy Homemaker. It could be every young man's dream.

So where does this all lead us? Well, nowhere really, but there are two major, major events in the offing. One: the girls will one day team up to fight vampires themselves, which promises for major buttkicking and wirework courtesy of Donnie Yen. This plotline proves to the "important" one, as an evil western vampire (Mickey Hardt) shows up in Hong Kong to snake Kazaf's hide. Apparently, taking out the hottest vampire ever is the only way to lay one's hands on "Day for Night", an ancient book which gives great power, or something like that. That's the mega-conflict that leads to the film's blowout final action sequences, involving wirework, cute screaming fits, and lots of semi-convincing stunt doubles.

But it's the second conflict which should get everybody's blood boiling. That's right: the Twins must take on each other! Midway through the film, there's a battle royale between Gypsy and Helen over—get this—a teddy bear! The girls go wushu wacko on each other and unleash a flurry of wire-enhanced moves and gravity-defying acrobatics. They also pause to pout, mug, and taunt each other with funny faces. To some people, this display of cute ass-kicking would probably be the cinematic equivalent of armageddon, but there's also something amusing and even winning about the whole thing. Say what you will about the Twins' talent, but they've got something—call it cuddly charisma or sweet screen presence—that makes them wholly watchable. It's like witnessing a blowout battle between Hello Kitty and Kerokeropi. Sure, it's silly and totally preposterous, but it's just so damn cute. No matter who wins, you'd like to give them both a hug.

Basically, it's popstar power which saves The Twins Effect. Aside from the Twins (who turn in effective, if not notable performances), Ekin Cheng is likable and self-effacing as the "old" popstar, and Anthony Wong and Josie Ho manage their small parts well. Jackie Chan's cameo is more than a little out-of-place, and probably could have been done away with, but there's some amusement to his minor turn as a harried groom, which is made all the more fun thanks to a cameo from Karen Mok as the bride. The good-natured silliness of the whole affair proves somewhat charming, such that the bad screenwriting, disjointed plotting, annoying music, egregious supporting actors, and even Edison Chen don't seem to hurt much.

Which is pretty much where we came in. The Twins Effect fails at being an honest-to-god good film, and is as forgettable as your average WB television show. But really, is that what people came to see? If The Twins Effect came with any hype at all, it was that two cute girls would be occupying the screen with their enormous heads, and that there'd be some occasional fighting. In that case, mission accomplished. The girls are cute and there is fighting, and some of it is actually pretty entertaining. If you are disappointed at The Twins Effect, you could blame the filmmakers, but if you paid to get in then you should really just blame yourself. What could someone expect from a film starring the Twins as vampire hunters and the rest of the EEG stable as their co-stars? Did we expect a good film? Or even a coherent one? If anything, the film brandishes its marketing savvy effectively: this is fluff starring a fluffy pop group, and it breezes by fast enough that its essential weightlessness doesn't seem to matter. And hey, at least it's not mind-numbing, insultingly bad like, say, The Wesley's Mysterious File. The Twins Effect is not a good film, and it pretty much hangs all its marbles on the photogenic charm of its terrible twosome. But in some ways, that may be enough. (Kozo 2003)

 
Notes: • Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video has released The Twins Effect on Region 1 DVD. Retitled The Vampire Effect for American consumption, the film is 19 minutes shorter than the original Hong Kong version.
Awards: 23rd Annual Hong Kong Film Awards
• Winner - Best Editing (Chan Kei-Hop)
• Winner - Best Art Direction (Lui Chor-Hung)
• Winner - Best Costume Design and Make-Up (Yee Chung-Man)
• Winner - Best Action Design (Donnie Yen Ji-Dan)
• Winner - Best Sound Effects (Kinson Tsang Kin-Cheung)
• Winner - Best Visual Effects (Eddy Wong, Yee Kwok-Leung)
• Nomination - Best Supporting Actress (Josie Ho Chiu-Yi)
40th Annual Golden Horse Awards

• Winner - Best Action Design (Donnie Yen Ji-Dan)
• Winner - Best Visual Effects (Eddy Wong)
Availability: DVD (Hong Kong)
Region 0 NTSC
Universe Laser
2-Disc Set
16x9 Anamorphic Widescreen
Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1 / DTS 5.1
Removable English and Chinese Subtitles
Making Of, Trailers, Music Video
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image courtesy of EMG

   
   
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