HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Day Shall Come, The
Scandal
Buzzard
Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown
Shaun the Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, A
Sons of Denmark
Light of My Life
Umbrellas of Cherbourg, The
Jerky Boys, The
Chambre en Ville, Une
Joker
Relaxer
Mustang, The
Baie des Anges, La
Ready or Not
Seven Days in May
Bliss
Hollywood Shuffle
Uncut Gems
Wilt
Daniel Isn't Real
Presidio, The
Curvature
Puzzle
Farewell, The
Challenge of the Tiger
Ad Astra
Winslow Boy, The
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Demy-Wave: The Essential Jacques Demy on Blu-ray
The Makings of a Winner: Play It Cool! on Blu-ray
Sony Channel's Before They Were Famous: A Galaxy of Stars
Start Worrying and Hate the Bomb: Fail-Safe on Blu-ray
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
   
 
  Duel, The Fiiiight!!!Buy this film here.
Year: 2000
Director: Andrew Lau
Stars: Nick Cheung, Vicky Zhao Wei, Andy Lau, Ekin Cheng, Kristy Yeung, Tin Sum, Patrick Tam, Geng Le, Elvis Tsui, Norman Tsui Siu-Keung, Ng Chi-Hung, Lee Wai-Sheung, Wong Yat-Fei, Lamb Hiu-Fung, Wong Ban, Zhan Xiao-Nan
Genre: Comedy, Martial Arts, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Agent Dragon 9 (Nick Cheung), a fast-talking, gadget-wielding, kung fu kicking secret agent working for the Imperial government, lands in trouble on the trail of a notorious bandit known as the Ghost Thief (Norman Tsui Siu-Keung). Luckily his best friend, master swordsman Snow the God of Sword (Ekin Cheng) flies in to bail him out with his legendary sword skills. During the fight, the despicable Ghost Thief sacrifices three of his beautiful sword maidens trying to save his own skin, but Snow rescues the fourth girl, Ye Ziqing (Kirsty Yeung), who happens to be in love with him. They settle down in married bliss.

Meanwhile, Agent 9 and his feisty childhood friend, Princess Phoenix (Vicky Zhao Wei), who happens to be the Emperor’s kid sister, find themselves in an awkward position when Sword Saint Yip Ku-Sing (Andy Lau), a powerful sword master he greatly respects and whom she loves, challenges Snow to a duel. News of this battle between legendary combatants perks the interest of the Emperor (Patrick Tam), who invites them to stage their duel in the Forbidden City and tasks Agent 9 to sell tickets. For his part, Agent 9 wonders why a righteous man like Sword Saint bears a grudge against his good friend Snow. Together with Princess Phoenix, he uncovers the tangled conspiracy that pits these righteous heroes against each other and threatens the heart of the empire.

Having scored big box office with Storm Riders (1998) and A Man Called Hero (1999), the hit-making team of writer-producer Wong Jing and director-cinematographer Andrew Lau reunited for another effects laden extravaganza with The Duel. This time, rather than adapt another “manhua” (Hong Kong comic book), the duo decided to rework a classic Gu Long wu xia novel, previously adapted for the screen as The Duel of the Century (1981) by Shaw Brothers maestro Chu Yuan. However, the film’s tone is wildly removed from both the chivalric stoicism of the Shaw Brothers output and the bombast of earlier Wong Jing/Andrew Lau hits. Leads Andy Lau and Ekin Cheng play it straight as the stern superheroes, but the film is actually driven by the zany antics of former Hong Kong policeman-turned-actor-comedian Nick Cheung and an adorable Vicky Zhao Wei, one year away from being shot to superstardom with Shaolin Soccer (2001). It is an irreverent semi-spoof wherein our bickering sleuths trade bawdy jokes, wield ridiculous gadgets (look out for the umbrella with forty-nine deadly functions), indulge in anachronistic movie references, and repeatedly break the fourth wall to address the audience.

Surprisingly paired with engagingly human characters and detailed relationships, the scattershot result works remarkably well, considerably more so than the overblown melodramatics of (the admittedly much-loved) Storm Riders. Andrew Lau’s stately pace sometimes seems at odds with Wong Jing’s anything goes ethos, which encompasses his trademark scatalogical humour and those frenetic gambling scenes found in everything from his critically-respected God of Gamblers (1989) right back to his Shaw Brothers debut, Challenge of the Gamesters (1982). Consequently, the energy flags now and then despite committed performances from funnyman Cheung, an alternately amusing and affecting Zhao Wei, and a supporting cast that includes cult character actor Elvis Tsui as a triad boss and Taiwanese sex bomb Tin Sum as Agent 9’s sultry girlfriend.

Nevertheless, the complex narrative juggles multiple plot-lines, tangled relationships, star-crossed love affairs and even a murder investigation with real panache, and touches on familiar Gu Long themes: duality, chivalry, the hardship of living by the sword, secret conspiracies. Also the denouement comes as a genuine and tragic surprise. The CGI-enhanced fight scenes choreographed by the great Ching Siu-Tung crackle with insane slapstick verve with some wildly imaginative flourishes (e.g. Sword Saint first appears in the sky in the form of a spectacular multi-headed dragon; Shaw Brothers veteran Norman Tsui Siu-Keung transforms into a giant sword-wielding snowball!). The production design and art direction are equally eye-catching as the film was shot in the real Forbidden City.

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1833 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Andrew Lau  (1960 - )

Hong Kong director and cinematographer responsible for some of the biggest hits in recent HK cinema. Born Wai Keung Lau, he photographed classics such as City on Fire, Curry and Pepper and Wong Kar-Wai's Chungking Express. As a director, Lau brought a flashy, commercial style to films like Naked Killer 2, Modern Romance and To Live and Die in Tsimshatsui, all produced by the prolific Wong Jing.

In 1996 Lau directed the hugely successful gang movie Young and Dangerous, which he followed up with four sequels and a prequel. His other notable films include the effects-laden fantasy epics Storm Riders, A Man Called Hero and The Duel, as well as co-directing the hit cop thriller Infernal Affairs and its two sequels. Not to be confused with actor Andy Lau.

 
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 is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Butch Elliot
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
   

 

Last Updated: