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September 2011

Twin Daggers

cast: Rhett Giles, Coco Su, Veronica Bero, Joey Covington, and Vasilios E

director: Chen Keun-hou

98 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 16:9
2020 DVD Region 2

RATING: 4/10
review by Ian Sales

Twin Daggers

"If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire..." Well, perhaps not the A-Team. This is 1935, after all; and the Vietnam War is decades away. Instead, you might be able to hire a crack team of martial artists/ assassins comprising Captain Scholar (Rhett Giles), Body (Veronica Bero), Ghost (Vasilios E), and Lex (Joey Covington).

Which is precisely what Kay Moi (Coco Su) does. She wants Scholar's team to kill her twin sister, Sue (also played by Coco Su), who runs the family business, Moi International, in Shanghai. Sue was also responsible for killing their parents and for disfiguring one of Kay's hands. But there are conditions: no one but Sue must die, and there can be no witnesses (which, explicitly means no one can witness the murder, not that witnesses must be killed).

The team hot-foot it across the Pacific to Shanghai, but decide to each try for the prize themselves. Scholar goes for the direct approach, and introduces himself to Sue as a man looking to do a business deal with her company. He is surprised to discover that Sue is beautiful and charming, and does not at all seem capable of the acts of which she is accused by her sister. He wines and dines Sue, finds himself drawn to her, and so begins to doubt Kay's story...

The remaining three assassins have no such scruples. Scholar is well aware of this. He teams up with Lex to kill Body, on the promise of splitting the fee 50:50 with him. But then he turns on Lex and so on... until there is only one. There is a twist in Twin Daggers but it is not, to be honest, especially difficult to guess. This is plotting by Agatha Christie and her ilk, but mixed - bizarrely - with martial arts from a Hong Kong actioner, except the fight scenes are not especially high quality. The choreography never seems quite right, and camera tricks - essentially speeding up and slowing down the action - do little except annoy.

The cast, with the exception of Coco Su, are not very good. Scholar is apparently an American, but speaks with an obvious Australian accent. The script possesses its fair share of cringe-inducing lines, and the direction veers from the competent to the 'it probably looked like a good idea on the storyboard...' An example of the latter sees Sue and Scholar playing 'catch me' on a climbing-wall in Sue's private gym, a game which ends with the pair of them hanging onto long banners tens of feet above the floor and slowly swinging about, and wrapping, a concrete pillar. I vaguely recall a similar scene in a wuxia film, but there it looked neither cheap nor silly.

And yet, for all its faults, Twin Daggers will provide an evening's entertainment. It's perhaps best not to think too hard while watching it, or the twists and turns will not surprise. But you may have to concentrate, if only to make out what the cast are saying. Few of them enunciate properly - their accents should not be a hurdle to understanding them, but it is sometimes more difficult than it should be.

Interestingly, the DVD cover art shows a pair of generic Asian martial artists, and not any of the film's actual characters.



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