A Shadow Falls: Long-lost twin brothers reunite to become the legendary “Double Dragon”

By on September 30, 2019

The complete 1993-1994 syndicated cartoon Double Dragon: The Animation Series — a spin-off from the beloved late-’80s “Beat ’em up” SEGA video arcade game of the same name which also spawned a Marvel Comics six-issue comic book, first published in 1991 — is our newest vintage Saturday Morning-style animated series, now streaming on Night Flight Plus, although the first episode actually aired on a Sunday (September 12, 1993).

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All twenty-six half-hour episodes of “Double Dragon” — an American/Canadian production, produced by Dic Entertainment and distributed by Bohbot Entertainment — originally aired during the 1993-1994 TV season, on what we then the newly-launched UPN network.

It also aired in syndication on the USA Network (a few years after “Night Flight”) as part of the cable network’s “Action Extreme Team” block of cartoon programming.

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The plot of the series veers away from the source material and tells the tale of a martial arts master and his twin brother, “Billy Lee” (voiced by Michael Donovan) and “Jimmy Lee” (voiced by Scott McNeil) who were separated at birth.

As we learn later, they’ve ended up on opposite sides of the law.

The story begins with a prologue during which “John Lee,” a Kung Fu master, retreats to his Dragon Dojo after a massive fire, leaving his young son Billy, our hero, in the care of an old timer known as “The Oldest Dragon.”

Because Billy has a glowing birth mark which resembling a dragon, The Oldest Dragon declares that Billy will be a Kung Fu master and great warrior himself, living his life by the Code of the Dragon, which is essentially to never to harm others intentionally and not get into fights if he can avoid it.

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We flash-forward to the present day, sometime far off in the future, in Metro City.

The city’s crime is out-of-control because of the “Shadow Master” (voiced by Jim Byrnes) and his criminal organization, known as “the Shadow Warriors,” including two of his henchman, “Abobo” and “Willy.”

The Shadow Master has many powers — including shape-shifting and teleporting — and he’s able to trap warriors who fail him into something called the Shadow Mural.

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Billy Lee, just as The Old Dragon had predicted, is now a master Kung Fu fighter, having become a Dragon Master by his eighteenth birthday.

He lives in the dojo, where he’s shadowed by an acolyte, “Michael,” and possesses a magic laser-blasting sword, dispatching the bad guys easily if not exactly lawfully.

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Then Billy meets police officer “Marian Martin” (voiced by Cathy Weseluck), who recruits Billy to join an official new Metro City police task force. Their challenge is to get rid of the bad guys without breaking any laws themselves.

It’s at this point that Billy’s long-lost twin brother Jimmy gets back in touch with his brother, asking Billy for his help. We learn he was raised by the Shadow Master, who had fooled Jimmy into believing he was his father.

Jimmy has been instructed in the dark ways of the Black Flame, becoming an evil Shadow Boss, with a scythe-like weapon which had a detachable sword in its lower half.

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Neither brother knows that by coming together they’re actually fulfilling an old prophecy foretelling that they would become superheroes known as the Double Dragon.

Billy can transform himself even further by using something called “Dragon Claws,” and later he acquires a new armor, made by Kami, which gives him two swords which can be brought together to form a propeller (“Dragon Blaster”) on his back for flight.

Both brothers now possess the magic swords that contain special powers, and both wear cute little color-themed costumes (Billy regularly wears a blue outfit, and a red dragon mask when he transforms; Jimmy, meanwhile, regularly wears a red outfit, and a blue dragon mask when he transforms).

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Read more about Double Dragon: The Animation Series below.

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The first episode (“Shadow Falls”) premiered on September 12, 1993, airing during the Amazin’ Adventures cartoon lineup.

The “Double Dragon” series was occasionally criticized by many who expected the cartoon to replicate the actions of original video game, which had been developed by Technōs Japan and distributed in North America and Europe by Taito, just a few years earlier, in 1987.

In the video game, both sides used their fists as well as baseball bats, whips, and various other instruments of violence.

For the TV series, this was given an additional twist in that the good guy heroes were given “laser blasting” swords, which were essentially non-violent weapons, which meant (in addition to being made available as toys) meant the fighters could continue to live to fight another day.

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The “Double Dragon” animated series lasted for two seasons, twenty-six episodes, before coming to an end with the last episode in December 1994, right after a live-action movie was released to theaters, starring Mark Dacascos and Scott Wolf.

The animated series was released on VHS home video, but it did not get a DVD/Blu-ray release until earlier this year, which comes to us courtesy of Invincible Pictures and MVD, Night Flight’s content partner, which is why we have it on Night Flight Plus!

Incidentally, the first episode of the first season, “The Shadow Falls,” was later used for the next game in the video game franchise, Double Dragon V: The Shadow Falls, which was based on the animated TV series rather than on the previously-released video games.

Watch Double Dragon: The Animation Series on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.