Hong Kong Cinema

Twins Effect

  • Made: 2003
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: Region 2 PAL
  • Release Date: 01 Nov 2004
  • Company: Universal Pictures UK
  • Length: 102 mins
  • Picture: 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Sound: Dolby 5.1
  • Language: Cantonese with English Subtitles
  • Extras: Behind the scenes, interviews, trailers
  • Classification: 15


Dante Lam (Donnie Yen co-directed)


Ekin Cheng, Edison Chen, Charlene Choi, Gillian Chung, Jackie Chan, Anthony Wong, Mickey Hardt, Josie Ho, Karen Mok

Twins Effect has two elements that make it an intriguing proposition; it blends yesterday's heroes with today's young upstarts and managing to storm the Hong Kong box office in 2003. With five weeks at the top, it grossed HK $28m during its release in summer 2003! The central characters feature the pretty boys, Ekin Cheng and Edison Chen, alongside the latest pop craze, the Twins. Supporting roles include Jackie Chan, Anthony Wong and Karen Mok. The action choreography was done by the increasingly impressive Donnie Yen (after stars turns in Blade 2 and Princess Blade). Director Dante Lam's résumé includes the stylish Beast Cops (1998), but he clearly upset someone at Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG) who gave the sequel's direction to Patrick Leung and Corey Yuen!

The canto-pop Twins (Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung) have taken Hong Kong music industry by storm in recent years and they have translated this into box office success. Throwing pop stars into movies roles has never been unique to Asia, with the likes of Britney, Madonna, S-Club, J-Lo and Mariah Carey providing Western audiences with some of the most traumatic cinema of all-time. The lure of pretty Hong Kong girls kicking vampire butt was always going to be too much to resist for hungry international distributors, so it was inevitable that Western audiences would soon be allowed a slice of the action. Columbia TriStar picked up the US rights for the movie and performed the now obligatory name change and 20 minute cut for their easily distracted film fans (now called Vampire Effect). The UK rights were snapped up by Universal Pictures UK, who had the good grace to retain the name and provide an uncut version for UK fans (do wonders never cease?)


The plot is ultimately very simple, but there is a lot of clutter and distraction that drags the movie from left to right. Ekin Cheng's character, Reeve, is the vampire slayer (think a canto-pop version of Blade) who loses his partner to evil vampire, Duke Dekontes (Mickey Hardt). After this traumatising event, Reeve swears never to fall in love with his partner again. Before you can utter, "I'm sure I've heard that line before" in steps his new partner Gypsy (played by Twin Gillian Chung). The other Twin, Charlene Choi, plays Reeve's sister, Helen. She manages to fall in love with the reluctant vampire; Prince Kazaf (Edison Chen). Even being the sister of a vampire slayer does not provide Helen with enough common sense to distinguish a vampire from a human (even when Kazaf starts burning in sunlight, she still doesn't get it). I would like to think that the Twins were acting as dumb pop-girls, but I have a terrible feeling inside of me that they were just playing themselves!

Although the Twins start out hating each other, they grow to like each other, and are ultimately drawn together when Reeve and Kazaf are captured by the Western vampires. Apparently, if the evil Duke gets his way with Prince Kazaf, he will be able to open up the ancient 'Day for Night' book, which will allow vampires to walk in sunlight. It is a terrifying prospect, but probably not a bad as some of the acting in this movie. The Twins never seem sure whether they need to say something or just look cute / smile / giggle / scream (I think those are their four main actions). Edison Chen's acting, is like his character, completely lifeless (after an impressive performance in Infernal Affairs 2). His attempt to play the reluctant and charming vampire is more stomach-turning than an in-flight-meal during turbulence! In every action scene he manages to flop in the corner and look helplessly handsome. He recently got beaten up by a couple of teenagers in Hong Kong and remarked at the press conference; " Then they attacked me and I was on the ground. Many people were on the street but no one helped me. I don't understand why ?" Maybe he should have another look at his performance in this movie if he is struggling for reasons.


The vampires are not scary and the Bey Logan factor strikes again here with an unnecessary twenty second cameo as a balding vampire. The only central character to come out with any credit is Ekin Cheng, who puts in a bearable performance. I would suggest, however, that if the best performance is by someone who cannot act, sing or fight, this is probably more to the detriment of his fellow cast than to his credit. Credit should really go to the supporting cast, particularly Anthony Wong's comic role as Prince Kazaf's butler, Prada, which is beautifully understated. Jackie Chan's cameo is surprisingly long, but completely irrelevant to the rest of the movie. From a Jackie perspective, there is nothing new here, just the usual clowning about routine. The phrase "same meat, different gravy" springs to mind.



Donnie's action carries this film and has saved several thousand TVs from being thrown out the window in disgust. He gives the film a real edge, with a hugely limited cast. None of the main characters know the difference between a tonfa and tofu, but Donnie puts together some excellent scenes. The highlight of the movie is when Ekin takes on a vampire skilled in monkey kung fu, this is great fun, great action and great editing all rolled into one. Unfortunately, getting the Twins to handle their action in an engaging and plausible manner was one bridge too far. The climax is lots of CGI, wires and doubles running about in a Kazaf's church. It is disappointing and apart from the obvious 'borrowing' of ideas from Blade and Buffy, there are similarities between this final fight and the church fight in Drunken Master 3. Both shot in similar locations, using similar weapons, similar props and the token Westerner as the bad guy. Originality is one thing this film cannot boast, but I am certain it never intended to anyway.


Main Menu - EkinSpecial Features


The Universal Pictures UK Region 2 PAL disc is an uncut (102 minutes) presentation. The film is a tidy anamorphic widescreen print with Cantonese language and an impressive Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. It has been awarded a 15 certificate and the extras include behind the scenes footage, interviews and trailers. Both Columbia TriStar and Universal wanted distribution rights to this movie, so EMG decided to split up the rights to keep both companies happy. Columbia predictably changed the US title to Vampire Effect and released a version cut by 19 minutes. Massive credit must go to Universal Pictures UK / New Media Maze for producing a high quality disc that features an uncut presentation and original language options, plus avoiding the temptation to try and sell this as a Jackie Chan movie. This disc can happily stand side by side to a Hong Kong Legends title.


This film was made for one reason; to cash in on the popularity of EMG's canto-pop minions. It never attempts to hide from this all too obvious conclusion. After watching this movie, I wanted nothing more than a Happy Meal and some little plastic 'Twins Effect' toy to collect. The Twins are just about bearable in this movie, but that is because they are so easy to overlook. I'm sure many people will be violently irritated by their presence on screen, but I just found them bland, much like Edison Chen. This film has won many awards in Asia, but it is no coincidence that these are for sound, editing, action, costume etc rather than acting. The execution behind the camera is absolutely first rate, ensuring that Twins Effect is super-stylish if nothing else!

For all the slating I have given this movie, I found it a really entertaining way to spend a hundred minutes of my life. There are some really good moments to enjoy, and some scenes where you laugh at the movie rather than with it. Donnie's choreography ensures a fresh sparkle to all the fight scenes. It is just a shame that they went for cute looks over talented actors / martial artists, but it seems that cuteness puts more bums on seats these days. Anthony Wong has a small part, but out-performs everyone else without even breaking into a sweat. I am not particularly anticipating the sequel to Twins Effect, but will inevitably watch it. I will expect another bland performance by the leads, but remain confident that the older and wiser heads involved in the sequel will once again make it a forgettable yet hugely entertaining experience.