Plot: Billy Lee has been trained in the martial arts since he was a child, so his skills have reached an impressive level. His master taught him to adhere to the noble Code of the Dragon, so while he has incredible fighting abilities, Billy only uses his martial arts when he must protect himself or others. What Billy doesn’t know is that while he trained with his master, his long lost twin brother Jimmy was also being trained, but by a much different type of master. Meanwhile, Billy tries to use his skills to protect the streets of the city and in the process, runs afoul of criminal Shadow Master’s forces. As the brothers start to cross paths, will they reunite and join their skills together, or have their pasts made that impossible?
Entertainment Value: This animated series was inspired by the popular video game of the same name, but Double Dragon doesn’t stick close to the source material and makes some odd decisions. The video games are driven by martial arts action above all else, but the cartoon series all but abandons those elements. So if you want to see Billy and Jimmy battling through the streets, unleashing wild attacks and martial arts mayhem, no such luck here. As the show makes it clear the two are martial arts masters, it is a strange choice, but Double Dragon opts to have the brothers wield magic swords instead and of course, that feels out of place. But it does allow for some action scenes and that’s more than welcome, despite the lack of wild street brawls. The show veers from the games in other ways also, from the narrative to how the brothers are portrayed to the general vibes, so fans might be in for surprises there. Despite the obvious lack of direct source inspiration, Double Dragon does feel in line with typical action cartoons from this period, so that’s likely why this approach was taken.
The animation isn’t going to turn heads, but it again falls in line with similar programs from the time. I have to think this wasn’t a high profile project for the studios involved, as the animation comes off as rather and simple or even cheap at times, though more than watchable. I’ve seen other shows from the 90s that have much more creative or dynamic animation, but for a lower tier show, Double Dragon looks fine, just not an eye popping experience. As the show chose a more basic approach to the action, dropping the martial arts fights, I do wonder if budget concerns were what led to the sword combat, which is less visually intensive. In any case, a higher level of animation would have helped, but given that the stories and design elements are middling at best, I’m not sure it would have had a huge impact. The voice work is passable, but not memorable and the music is on the cheesy side. But there is a distinct 90s vibe about Double Dragon, which will likely lure in some nostalgia seekers. The show ran for only two seasons, with a total of twenty-six episodes.
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