The Guilty Pleasure Pile: The Twins Effect

Generally Speaking, we at Forced Perspective love great films and detest bad films. But what happens when one of us grows fond of a film that we know in our hearts is total crap? This is where we stash such films: The Guilty Pleasure Pile.

Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi slay vampires and keep up with the latest fashion.

For our inaugural film from the heap, I’ll be looking at Dante Lam’s 2003 film The Twins Effect. For the uninitiated, the Twins (Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi) became one of Hong Kong’s most ridiculously popular music acts in the early naughts. While in Hollywood it isn’t uncommon for a pop star to take a turn to the silver screen, in Hong Kong it’s practically expected. In fact, many of Hong Kong’s most popular and beloved actors also have music careers. Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai, Jackie Chan (who has an extended cameo in this film), and Leslie Cheung (possibly the best actor Hong Kong has ever seen) are all well known for their music as well as their film roles.

So why is this film a notorious case if so many singers in Hong Kong act, anyway? For one thing, the Twins don’t play twins at all in this film, and yet the title The Twins Effect remains to draw their fans in. For another, other pop star turned actors also appear in major roles, notably Ekin Cheng and Edison “the most hated man in the Sinosphere” Chen. On top of all that, this film was produced by Emperor Media Group, who just so happened to be managing most of these artists’ musical careers at the time. In other words, this film is, for the most part, a 105-minute commercial for the EMG merchandise.

But it’s also ridiculously entertaining.

Ironically, neither of the Twins show up for the first 20 minutes of the film, and don’t actually share much screen time until the climactic battle. We first are introduced to Reeve (Ekin Cheng), a Vampire slayer who loses his partner on a mission. It is revealed in voice-over narration that he was in love with her, and he vowed never to fall in love with another partner of his again. Then we are introduced to a family of vampires which consists of Prada (Anthony Wong) and Prince Razaf (Edison “yo dawg I’m from da streetz fo’ sheezy” Chen), the latter of whom insists that they be that variety of vegetarian vampires that refuse to harm people. I feel like there was a much less entertaining movie about a similar type of vampires five years later, but its name escapes me…

At a restaurant, the two vampires run into Helen (Charlene Choi, the smilier Twin), who has just been dumped by her boyfriend (Chapman To) and isn’t taking it very lightly. Prince Razaf is instantly attracted to her, and spends the greater portion of his part in the film trying to woo her. Gypsy (Gillian Chung, the hotter Twin) is sent in as a new partner for our vampire hunter Reeve, who is an older brother to Helen, who is being romanced by a vampire. Yeah.

Helen takes an instant disliking to Gypsy in the forms of a really annoying continuous high pitched scream. But it’s okay, because the next morning the two of them get in a kung fu battle, which is quite possibly the cutest action sequence ever filmed, though the fight choreography from Donnie Yen is actually pretty decent, too. Actually, all the action in this movie is much better than I expected it to be, despite the high level of CGI in the film’s climactic blowout.

There’s also some plot about guy named Duke Dekotes who is an evil vampire trying to become the most powerful vampire in the world by extracting stones from the mouths of all the vampire princes in the world. Don’t ask. It’s not really an interesting plot until the end. Jackie Chan’s cameos are entertaining, too, first as a groom at a wedding getting married to a badass Karen Mok, then later showing up as an ambulance driver who assists Helen and Prince Douche Razaf in escaping attacks by more vampires.

This film isn’t exactly horribly crafted; the action sequences are, at worst, average for a Hong Kong action film, and the cinematography has some pretty neat shots. The cheesiness comes in the form of the music and the acting. The constant music seems to be replacing the fact that most of the scenes don’t really work on an emotional level thanks to the acting, which is subpar from almost everyone involved. Ekin Cheng, normally a wooden board, actually comes off the best of the four main characters. Edison “the Ed is On dawg” Chen is his usual talentless self. The gweilo playing Duke is par for the course of gweilo actors, which of course means that he sucks despite the fact that he’s speaking English the whole time. Neither of the Twins are especially great in this film; Gillian Chung fares a bit better but is average at best, and Charlene Choi comes off as a bit irritating.

But they’re so cute!

So why is it that I’m not only able to tolerate this film, but actually enjoy it despite its exploitative commercial nature, cheesy acting, numerous plot holes, and annoying music? Besides the inherent cuteness of the Twins and decent action, I’m still a bit confused by this myself. It’s not exactly a “so bad it’s good” style guilty pleasure thanks to the overall competence of the craft. Who knows? Perhaps it is just the inherent cuteness of the Twins and decent action, or maybe that the film doesn’t really beg to be taken seriously like recent blockbuster-style films are trying to do. Maybe it’s just that I came into the film expecting it to be even worse and it exceeded my low expectations, but that kind of negates the fact that I enjoyed re-watching scenes from this film while writing this up.

In fact, the only thing that really grates on me in this film is Edison Chen, who is a terrible actor and a horrible person in general. Or maybe I’m just jealous that he slept with both Gillian Chung and Cecilia Cheung and I didn’t. Whatever. His career is over, anyway.

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About Adam DiPiazza
I love Peach Snapple.

One Response to The Guilty Pleasure Pile: The Twins Effect

  1. Pingback: Twins Effect II « Forced Perspective

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