DOUBLE WORLD (征途) (NETFLIX) (2020)
SYNOPSIS: Keen to bring honor to his clan, young villager Dong Yilong embarks on a perilous journey to compete in a tournament that selects warriors for battle.
Double World is the kind of CGI loaded movie that gives you bad vibes all over after watching the initial trailer.
Based on the popular MMORPG game of the same name, ex-member of Super Junior-M, Henry Lau and Peter Ho (The Truth About Jane and Sam) plays a pair of villagers from Qing Yuan who volunteer to compete in a tournament. Organised by an evil Grand Tutor who is secretly planning to overthrow the South Emperor, Dong Yilong (Lau) and Chu Han (Ho) must team up with a heroic gal, Jinggang (Lin Chen Han) to overcome three set of dangerous games in order to win the coveted order of Grand Marshall.
However, that’s only scratching the surface of a story plot that probably deserves a mini-series to flesh out the various characters’ past and desires. Yilong may seems like an ordinary orphan child but who knows, he might be the heir of the North Yan Kingdom after all. Chu Han on the other hand is planning to avenge the wrongful death of his brother. Then there is Jinggang, a gal who pins for the love of a brother figure and a slave (Jiang Luxia) who struggles to forget about her past. And then there are the various clan members, one of them notably played by HK actor Him Law and the Grand Tutor (Hu Ming) elaborate scheme of overthrowing the King.
Despite the unnecessarily complex plotting, HK director Teddy Chan (Assassins and Bodyguards, Kung Fu Jungle) manages to keep things tightly in rein under two hours. At least, audiences are kept mesmerised by the relationship between Yilong, Chu Han and Jinggang although the frequent mention of political dynamics between the different states are nothing more than mere filler and confusion.
For a Mainland title that feature CGI by local visual effects house, MoreVFX, the overall result is much better than expected although the design of some of the creatures seem to resemble those seen in Clash of the Titans and Dragonheart. We wouldn’t call the effects stunning but it’s a notch higher than the average Mainland production. The intricate set designs and physical sets are built quite handsomely and values are certainly rich enough to warrant the US$42 million price tag.
Double World works mostly in the hands of experienced veteran director Chan, producer Soi Cheang (SPL II, The Monkey King 2) and action director Stephen Tung Wai. It’s a conventional movie in terms of story but it’s shrouded with state-of-the-art technology to produce some spectacular, pretty cool chases and duels. Is it a remarkable, memorable flick in the end? Let’s just conclude by saying that Double World follows the footsteps of contemporary wu xia action flicks with a CGI twist. At least it’s much more enjoyable than last year’s Jade Dynasty.
Review by Linus Tee