Double World (2020)

Posted in Reviews by - August 14, 2020
Double World (2020)

This film was another coronavirus-related release casualty, heading straight to streaming services simultaneously in China (via iQiyi) and internationally (via Netflix), despite a budget of $43m and mad CGI landscapes. The film, which is 80% visual effects, would have benefitted from a big-screen release, but it retains much of its bonkers charm even on a small screen. The premise is designed around the pairing of Peter Ho and Henry Lau, who play a contrary double act from the same clan who journey into the gladiatorial heart of the fantastical Phoenix City to take part in an all-out crazy martial arts tournament. The winner gets to assume the prestigious role as the Emperor’s top bodyguard. Based on the popular online game, Zhengtu, this is quite a hair-brained departure for a director like Teddy Chan (Kung Fu Jungle, Bodyguards and Assassins), who drops us in a seemingly familiar jianghu setting, only goofed-up to the max on every conceivable computer-generated excitement you can imagine. This includes a giant, lion-esque, furry-fanged beastie; a fight scene with a giant scorpion; and green-screen tournament scenes placed in a ritualistic, Colosseum-like hyper-dome with a rotating chain floor, spikes, and huge metal balls flying around like some kind of human pinball machine. And this is all before our plucky heroes steal an egg from the lair of a dragon where the fauna comes alive and starts attacking them. Tonally, it’s a bit all over the place, jostling somewhere between a teen romance, a light fantasy comedy, and quite a bloody action film with scenes involving sharp impalements and people getting their limbs hacked off. Its weightless and completely inconsequential, too, but nevertheless a diverting watch.

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