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APRIL 19, 1999: 

Twin Dragons

Following Jackie Chan's boffo box-office success with Rush Hour, Dimension Films appears to be looking for quick, easy spoils by dumping this 1992 Hong Kong caper on the American public, adding only a hacked-up dub job and a minimal distribution campaign -- the same stunt that was pulled with Supercop and Operation Condor. Much like Jean Claude Van Damme in Double Impact, Chan plays both sides of twins separated at birth. One, John Ma, is a world-renowned pianist and conductor. The other, Boomer, is a rough-and-tumble auto mechanic with Speed Racer driving skills and top-flight martial-arts expertise. Mistaken identities and near-meetings factor in large as the two Chans weave through the congested streets of Hong Kong, the maestro on his way to a concert performance, the brawler trying to save his neophyte sidekick from the mob. John can't fight, of course, and it's a devilish, if overplayed, sight to see him caught in altercations with the mob. Naturally when Boomer gets into the mix, the film delivers the Chan goods: daunting, high-flying fight sequences replete with the star's legendary stunt work and tongue-in-cheek physical comedy. The action gets a big boost from the always engaging Maggie Cheung and a ditzy, curvaceous Nina Chi Li as the love interests of the brothers. There's nothing cerebral about Twin Dragons but it is entertaining fluff that will make your jaw drop.

-- Tom Meek

Goodbye Lover

Director Roland Joffé, the man responsible for Demi Moore in The Scarlet Letter, unleashes yet another unrepentant hussy for cinema's umpteenth look at the lives of the hopelessly ruthless. Patricia Arquette is no Barbara Stanwyck, but with her little dagger teeth, platinum pageboy, and petite va-va-voom, she's the embodiment of self-absorbed depravity in this noir-tinged tale of double-crossers and double indemnity. Obvious, however, she's not: a devotee of motivational tapes and, yes, The Sound of Music, Arquette's Sandra is as quick to polish the church silver as she is to polish off anyone in her way.

She's the sexy center of a twisty, ultimately exhausting caper that convenes Dermot Mulroney as her drunkard husband, Don Johnson as an organ-playing PR pro, Mary-Louise Parker as a high-strung junior exec, and Ellen DeGeneres, as a cynical, take-no-guff cop. It's familiar, Coen Brothers territory, yet the film packs enough sly dialogue, narrative surprises, and arty touches to hold its own. The world is a shitty place, it says, rife with hypocrisy, artifice, and self-realized amorality. Still, any world that scores a murder scene to Julie Andrews's "So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye" can't be all that bad.

-- Alicia Potter

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