“It’s not how hard you hit,” one of Double Trouble’s heroes says to the other after a fight, “it’s how much you can take.” Action comedies ought to follow a similar maxim: It’s not how many fight scenes there are, it’s whether each delivers. The precious few brawls which populate this film regrettably do not. And because Double Trouble is quite transparently intended as a star-making vehicle for Jaycee Chan, son of Jackie, it carries the unfortunate burden of his father’s legacy—a legacy built on not only ingeniously conceived fight sequences, but nearly always flawlessly executed ones. Even by the time of the popular Police Story films in the ’80s and ’90s (and even, arguably, through the Rush Hour franchise as well), Jackie Chan’s signature kung-fu acrobatics never mellowed, and his reckless impulse never felt restrained. It’s worth remembering that the thrill of a film like, say, Drunken Master is derived from its intense physicality, a tactile feel diminished by a film’s reliance on excessive cutting or computer-augmented effects. Double Trouble, by comparison, feels downright ethereal, a result of its heavy use of bad CGI and seemingly nonstop in-fight edits. Which is to say that if the young Chan means to mimic the work of his father, he’s gotten closer to The Spy Next Door than to The Fearless Hyena. That’s probably not the best way to live up to your family name.
To its credit, Double Trouble boasts at least two novel set pieces, though they’re more interesting conceptually than they are in practice. The first, an opening scene in which sword-wielding security guards try to subdue an art thief without damaging the rolled-up painting she’s brandishing, probably seemed quite clever on paper, a sort of inverted sword fight that’s as fun as it is novel. But director David Chang has a poor understanding of on-screen fight dynamics, and his failure to convey any coherent sense of space makes the whole thing unnecessarily difficult to follow. The other, an elaborate game of keep-away on top of a moving tour bus, might have been a fun revision of the ridiculous truck fight in The Matrix: Reloaded, but the laughably dismal CGI and unintelligible editing make the action borderline incomprehensible. Jackie Chan, in his prime, devised stunts 10 times as novel and a hundred times as ludicrous as any of the half-baked ones crammed into Double Trouble, and he didn’t need bad digital effects to pull them off convincingly. Maybe it’s unfair to hold Jaycee to such a high standard, but there’s a very easy lesson to be gleaned from even Jackie’s oldest, lowest-budget features: If you can’t manage something beyond your means, just scale it back and keep it physical.