HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Sorry to Bother You
Last Days, The
Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot, The
Being Frank: The Chris Sievey Story
Once Upon a Time in London
King Lear
Under the Silver Lake
Satan's Mistress
Border
Lemonade Joe
Earth Maiden Arjuna
Sons of Katie Elder, The
Soldier, The
Mr. Topaze
Aquaman
One, Two, Three
Bad Times at the El Royale
Caretaker, The
Old Man and the Gun, The
Song of Bernadette, The
Creed II
Anna and the Apocalypse
Return of the Hero
White Reindeer, The
Lizzie
Wicked, Wicked
Faces Places
Strange Woman, The
Ralph Breaks the Internet
Sky Bandits
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Devil's Sword, The
Leprechaun Returns
Man in the Wilderness
Mug
Love Me Deadly
Look Away
J.C.
Filmworker
Sixty Glorious Years
   
 
Newest Articles
For Christ's Sake: Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Temptation of Christ
Not In Front of the Children: Inappropriate Kids Movies
Deeper into Ozploitation: Next of Kin and Fair Game
Between the Wars: Babylon Berlin Series 1&2 on DVD
Hard Luck Story: Detour on Blu-ray
Oh, What Happened to You? The Likely Lads on Blu-ray
Killer Apps: The Rise of the Evil 60s Supercomputers
How 1970s Can You Get? Cliff Richard in Take Me High vs Never Too Young to Rock
A Perfect Engine, An Eating Machine: The Jaws Series
Phwoar, Missus! Sexytime for Hollywood
He-Maniacs: Ridiculous 80s Action
All's Welles That Ends Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 1 on DVD
Shut It! The Sweeney Double Bill: Two Blu-rays from Network
Network Sitcom Movie Double Bill: Till Death Us Do Part and Man About the House on Blu-ray
No, THIS Must Be the Place: True Stories on Blu-ray
   
 
  Death Duel, The There can be only oneBuy this film here.
Year: 1977
Director: Chu Yuan
Stars: Derek Yee, Ling Yun, Candice Yu, Ku Feng, Ou-Yang Sha-Fei, Chen Ping, David Chiang, Fan Mei-Sheng, Teresa Ha Ping, Lo Lieh, Ti Lung, Yueh Hua, Norman Tsui Siu-Keung, Goo Goon-Chung, Ngaai Fei, Gam Lau, Yeung Chi-Hing
Genre: Martial Arts, Weirdo, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Grim swordsman Yen Shih-San (Ling Yun) aims to be number one in the Martial World. To that end he agrees to eliminate Third Master, supposedly the finest swordsman in the world, on the orders of the evil Mu-Yung clan led by sultry siren Mu-Yung Chiu-Ti (Chen Ping). But when Yen Shih-San reaches the fabled Supreme Sword Mansion, he discovers Third Master has died from natural causes.

Meanwhile, a starving beggar named Ah Chi (Derek Yee) earns some food performing odd jobs at a high class brothel. Other courtesans tease him about his ragged clothes, but the sweet and lovely Hsiao Li (Candice Yu) leaps to his defence. After Ah Chi has his arms slashed protecting Hsiao Li from an abusive client, kindly street vendor Miao Tzu (Ku Feng) and his dear old mum give him shelter and heal his wounds. He soon discovers they are none other than Hsiao Li’s family, who are unaware she has been turning tricks to support them. Triad bully boys from the White Tiger Society try to kidnap Hsiao Li to serve as their boss’ personal plaything, killing her mum in the process, prompting Ah Chi to explode into a whirlwind of death-dealing fury. Soon his secret is out: Ah Chi is the Third Master. Now everyone wants him dead.

Not to be confused with Joseph Kuo’s 1971 chop-socky effort of the same name, Death Duel is another Shaw Brothers Gu Long adaptation from Chu Yuan, and one of his very best. Red is the predominent colour onscreen (red leaves, red lanterns, backlit mist), perhaps signifying lives steeped in bloodshed, although in Chinese culture it traditionally symbolises heroism and happiness. “It’s not easy even to be a nobody”, muses Ah Chi as the unfolding tragedy echoes themes prevalent in an array of more mainstream movies, from Cold Sweat (1971) to A History of Violence (2005) wherein heroes seeking a peaceful life are driven to kill in order to maintain their precious anonymity, even as this increases their notoriety. This sense of inescapable tragedy harks back to the classic Gregory Peck western: The Gunfighter (1950) as suddenly all sorts of wacky, would-be assassins crawl out of the woodwork itching to pit their skills against Third Master, who just wants a quiet life. Inevitably, fate does bring Ah Chi together with Yen Shih-San but in most surprising and unexpectedly poignant circumstances.

While some Chu Yuan films tend towards the esoteric, Death Duel weaves a powerful, compellingly human story, distinguished by its gut-wrenching nihilism and exhibiting real empathy for the disenfranchised and downtrodden. The film marked the screen debut of Derek Yee, who went on to headline some of the wildest martial arts fantasies produced by the Shaw Brothers studio - e.g. Buddha’s Palm (1982) - before he switched careers to serve as the writer-director of an array of groundbreaking, critically-acclaimed dramas: e.g. The Lunatics (1986), People’s Hero (1988), One Night in Mongkok (2004), Protégé (2007) and his romantic masterpiece C’est la vie, mon chéri (1994). Truth be told Derek Yee is a far better director than he was an actor, however his performance here ranks among his most impassioned and affecting. The Shaw Brothers surrounded their burgeoning matinee idol with an impressive array of special guest stars: Yueh Hua plays a duplicitious herbalist whose evil actions result in an unexpected plot twist. Lo Lieh pops up as a righteous hero who hides an enormous circular saw under his hat! An unshaven, poncho-clad Ti Lung briefly reprises his role from The Magic Blade (1976) as a master swordsman-turned-humble-woodcutter who saves Ah Chi’s life and gives him some handy advice. Most surprising of all, Derek Yee’s real-life older brother, Shaw superstar David Chiang makes an insane in-joke cameo, cast way against type as a crazed, cackling kung fu master held in a golden cage, who abruptly slaughters two thirds of the cast!

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1765 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Paul Shrimpton
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
George White
Stately Wayne Manor
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: