Finally, someone has written an in-depth article about the cultural ethos of classic 1980s beat-em-up Double Dragon. Dan Whitehead:
Like its closest peers—namely Renegade and Streets Of Rage—Double Dragon represents the vigilante myth at its most naked and vicious. In brief: The hero is a square-jawed white guy, clad in a blue-collar uniform of wifebeater and sleeveless denim jacket. ... It’s the Reagan-era fantasy in a nutshell—the “one good man” of frontier myth updated for a world of crack dens and moral sleaze, taking down feral street punks with a bone-crunching kick to the face rather than a six-shooter.
A great article. However, I'm going to be that guy and suggest that he's not quite nailed the time period. Double Dragon was more a delayed echo of gritty 70s crime flicks such as Death Wish and The Warriors than Reagan-era neon paranoia (in arcades: Narc). Likewise, Double Dragon's elements of mysticism were more akin to Roger Moore Bond movies and kung-fu exploitation flicks than the contemporaneous Big Trouble in Little China. The lurid late-eighties glow--as resurrected in a 2012 reboot that owes as much to Ninja Turtles cartoons as the original game--only became the focus with the movie and later franchising. And that stuff about corn-fed Skynyrd types fighting Grandmaster Flash? Nah.
How it saddens me that Charles Bronson was not recalled from advanced retirement to play the the bad guy in a modern, Tarantino-esque Double Dragon film.