Double Dragon is a 1994 live-action film adaptation of the video game franchise of the same name. It stars Scott Wolf as Billy Lee and Mark Dacascos as Jimmy Lee, along with Alyssa Milano as Marian Delario and Robert Patrick as Koga Shuko, the primary antagonist. It was directed by James Yukich and written by the team of Paul Dini (of Batman: The Animated Series and others) and Neal Shusterman. The film takes place in a post-earthquake Los Angeles, now referred to as "New Angeles".
Cut to a monk village somewhere in China, where the residents are under attack by a group of ninjas looking for the dragon medallion, only to discover that the monks' tongues have been cut out to prevent them from revealing its location. One ninja, Lash, notices a villager fleeing and she gives chase following him into cavern dressed as a shrine where the medallion is located. After retrieving the artifact, she reports back to Shuko via satellite link.
Back in 2007 New Angeles (Los Angeles after the big quake of 2000), Shuko reveals his plans to have total domination of the city, stating that the quake was like a trumpets blow "heralding [his] arrival". He then discovers that Lash only recovered one half of the medallion and berates her for it. He places the medallion in his fist and turns into a shadowy, wraith-like figure and orders Lash to find him the other half.
The second half of the medallion is revealed to be in the possession of Satori Imada, caretaker of Billy and Jimmy Lee, who are in the middle of a martial arts tournament. The match is going well until Billy's antics get the best of him and cost them the match and, consequently, the prize money as well. After a smart remark from the winning team, Billy jumps on them followed by Jimmy, and shortly the entire arena is fighting each other.
After a short news segment, basically setting up the city's curfew and the LAPD's truce with the gangs, Team Lee find themselves out after curfew and in gang territory. Billy sees a girl leaning into the hood of a car and begs Jimmy to pull over saying that she is his type. After parking, the girl stands up and pulls off her wig revealing she is actually a guy in a skirt. Just as Jimmy quips that she is Billy's type, their car is surrounded by Mohawk gang members, led by Bo Abobo (Nils Allen Stewart). His sidekick, Hawk, demands $50 from them but Abobo sees something he likes better than cash: the dragon medallion. He tries to take it from Satori as Jimmy and Billy tell her to let him have it, but she refuses because "it has sentimental value". Abobo finally pulls it from her neck, but she stabs him in the hand. As Hawk laughs at his partner's misfortune, the Lee brothers and Satori escape. Abobo and Hawk give chase in their truck, determined to collect their toll. The pursuit goes on for several minutes until Billy puts an aerosol can into the combustion chamber of the car's afterburner engine. They end up down a dead end alley where Abobo and Hawk finally catch up with them. As Abobo jumps out of the truck, he unknowingly drops something. Billy and Jimmy prepare to put up a fight, but the "Power Corps" appear from the shadows and drive the Mohawks away with their superior numbers. Marian (Alyssa Milano) tantalizes the two about needing help and then reveals that she was there for the GangNet Linkup that Abobo dropped earlier. Satori informs them that the Mohawks will be back shortly with reinforcements and that they should leave.
Back at Shuko's office, it turns out that Abobo is actually working for him and says that he thought the medallion was "just a piece of cheap jewelry" and that Lash should put out an APB on it since "it's her fault". As punishment for his failure, Shuko decides to subject Abobo to his submolecular steroids, which will give him the "strength of ten men". Abobo says that since he already has that kind of strength, the machine will kill him. Shuko responds by saying the he considers Abobo as a son, "and like any good son, I can always have another. But there is only one Double Dragon". The scene closes with the machine opening up and Abobo screaming in fear of the events to come.
The Lees' car is shown to be parked outside the closed down Deville Theater, which turns out to be home to Satori and the Lees. She explains to them the significance of the dragon medallion she wears. One half of the amulet gives power over the body, making the wearer invincible and super strong. The other half gives power over the soul, allowing the user to enter anyone's body and control them from within. She separated the two halves many years ago, keeping one for herself and hiding the other in a place no one will ever find it. Later that day, there is a knock at the door and Satori answers it only to be surprised by an old face: Victor Guisman. He says that no one has called him "Guisman" in many years and that he is now known as Koga Shuko. He demands to know where her half of the Double Dragon is, only to be told that he'll never find the two pieces. Shuko laughs and, to Satori's horror, unzips his coat to reveal his half of the medallion. After spotting the other half around Billy's neck, he attempts to grab it but is stopped by Satori. His henchmen, Huey and Lewis, go after the Lee brothers in an almost cartoon-like chase throughout the theater. After having incapacitating the henchmen, Billy and Jimmy are confronted by a giant, mutated Abobo. They attempt to take him down with some bricks, and in the process, accidentally break the gas line. Satori appears and knocks Abobo out with a punching bag and then orders the boys to get out and leave the medallion with her. Billy refuses, asking how it works, but Satori gets impatient and reaches for the medallion as her voice deepens to reveal that she is actually being controlled by Shuko. She is quickly locked behind a fence and Shuko leaves her body, and makes one final offer to the Lees to give up the medallion or else Satori will die. Believing he is bluffing, they turn back to Satori as Shuko sets fire to the theater. They realize that the gas is broken when Lash draws their attention toward her, and rush to get Satori free. They eventually get the gate open and start to leave, but are confronted once again by Shuko, although Satori knocks him away to give Billy and Jimmy a chance to escape. She closes the door behind her, locking the boys out, to keep Shuko distracted. As the Lees run around to the front of the theater, the fire reaches the gas line and the entire theater explodes with Satori inside. Outside, Lash is wondering where Shuko is, and he appears in his limo behind her. He orders her to set up a meeting with the gangs to employ their assistance in finding the dragon medallion.
Meanwhile, Billy and Jimmy mourn the loss of Satori, the two realize that they must get things together without her, but suddenly, they confront random gang members assembled by Shuko and they end up fighting, and being chased by them, Billy and Jimmy then hide in a den where Billy finds a motorcycle to escape, although it breaks down. The two then find a boat and they ensue in a chase with the gang members through the Hollywood River (Hollywood after the big quake of 2000), after a long chase and passing through a tour boat, the boat explodes, leaving Billy and Jimmy in the water, escaping from the gang members, and seek refuge in the Power Corps hideout. Marian agrees to help them, using this as an opportunity to get rid of the gangs once and for all, and the three of them decide to go to Shuko's office building to steal his medallion. They ultimately fail and are forced to flee, but Jimmy is captured in the process.
Billy and Marian return to the Power Corps base, and lament about how none of them have been able to figure out how to use their Dragon piece. Marian points out a discovery they made that the wearer of the medallion is immune to the powers of its counterpart, meaning Shuko is not able to possess him as long as he has it. Suddenly, the gangs attack the hideout. In the mélêe, Jimmy reappears. Billy is elated; however, Jimmy is merely being controlled by Shuko as he tries to pummel his brother into submission. Billy then accidentally activates his medallion's ability, which is the power of the body and effectively makes him invulnerable to harm. Knowing this, Shuko threatens to kill Jimmy instead. This doesn't succeed either, so he releases Jimmy to distract Billy long enough to get the medallion.
Shuko unites the halves and turns into a pair of shadow warriors with katanas that disintegrate anything they slice through. The Lee brothers fight, but cannot beat him. Abobo, who had previously been taken prisoner and since reformed, reveals to Marian that Shuko's weakness is light. Marian reactivates the hideout's generator and the shadow warriors are rendered powerless. Billy and Jimmy attack, forcefully recombining the shadows into Shuko, and acquire the Double Dragon halves. They combine the two pieces, granting them matching uniforms and the medallion powers, and they briefly see a vision of Satori's spirit as she gives them encouraging words. The brothers pummel Shuko and Jimmy possesses him to make him do embarrassing things. During this time, Marian's father arrives to bring Shuko to justice and to take care of the gangs once and for all. Jimmy has Shuko write a check to the police department for $129 million before encouraging the police chief to arrest him.
Shuko is sent to jail, the police department has renewed strength to fight the gangs instead of compromising with them, and Billy and Jimmy can now keep both halves of the medallion safe.
- Scott Wolf as Billy Lee, the younger Lee brother in blue. He was the protagonist in the original game.
- Mark Dacascos as Jimmy Lee, the elder Lee brother in red. He was the second player's character in the original game.
- Alyssa Milano as Marian Delario, the leader of the "Power Corps". She was the damsel-in-distress in the original game and a love interest for both brothers.
- Robert Patrick as Koga Shuko/Victor Guisman, a businessman and a former crime lord seeking to possess both halves of the Double Dragon medallion. Although not from any of the games or other media, he is apparently based on the Shadow Master, the lead villain from the Double Dragon animated series that aired around the time the movie came out. Other video games and media had similarly-named and skilled villains, such as the Shadow Boss from Battletoads/Double Dragon.
- Julia Nickson as Satori Imada, the caretaker of Billy and Jimmy.
- Kristina Wagner as Linda Lash, Shuko's henchwoman. Linda is one of the only two enemy characters from the original game featured in the film.
- Nils Allen Stewart as Bo Abobo, the leader of a street gang known as the "Mohawks". Abobo is the other enemy character from the game in the film.
- Henry Kingi plays the mutated Bo Abobo during the later part of the film, who reforms and befriends the Lee brothers and Marian at the end.
- Jeff Imada as Huey, one of Shuko's two personal bodyguards.
- Al Leong as Lewis, the other of Shuko's two personal bodyguards.
- George Hamilton appears as himself, working as an anchorman.
- Vanna White appears as herself, working as an anchorwoman.
- Andy Dick appeared as himself, working as a weatherman who deals with the "fogcast", giving warnings over (implied acidic and radioactive) black rain.
- Dwid Hellion as Skateboard Hoodlum.
Reviews by critics, such as the review of the movie by the Washington Post, were not favorable. In 2009, Time listed the film on their list of top ten worst video game movies. The movie was also shunned by fans and public opinion alike; however, it did achieve considerable sales figures in many South American countries when released on VHS.
The Nostalgia Critic also gave a negative review of the film, citing the low quality and cheesy villains. For instance, he named the main villain of the movie the "Vanilla Ice 1000" (since the character is played by Robert Patrick, famous for his role as the T-1000, and because he looks like Vanilla Ice). The Critic also cites the pointlessness of the death of an underdeveloped character.
According to Box Office Mojo, The film grossed only $1,376,561 in its opening weekend at 1,087 theaters and $2,341,309 in its finished theatrical run.
Universal released the film on VHS and Laserdisc in 1995 in the United States, while CFP released the film on video in Canada. Goodtimes Home Video released the film on DVD and made another VHS in early 1998 and another DVD on August 31, 2004. Both DVDs are currently out of print.
Plot and visual elements of the film were reused in the 1995 fighting game version of Double Dragon produced by Technōs Japan. This includes the transformation that the Lee brothers go through during the film's climax, which appear in the game as a special move for both characters, and the use of footage of the film in the game's introduction and Marian's stage.
Face/Off writer Mike Werb was planning to write a new Double Dragon film, stating: "It's actually been done once before, but it's such a classic, it deserves to be done better."
- In the film, Billy and Jimmy Lee are only described as brothers rather than twins, presumably to explain the differences in ethnicity.
- Top 10 Worst Video Game Movies at Time.