HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Beach Bum, The
Kill Ben Lyk
Into the Mirror
Support the Girls
Werewolf
Little Monsters
Spider-Man: Far from Home
Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans
Pentathlon
Anna
Moulin Rouge
Ray & Liz
African Queen, The
Helen Morgan Story, The
Golem, Der
Yentl
Finishing Line, The
Triple Threat
Mysterious Castle in the Carpathians, The
Driven
Planet of the Dinosaurs
Gwen
Big Breadwinner Hog
Thunder Road
Moby Dick
Frankenstein's Great Aunt Tillie
Mad Room, The
Phantom of the Megaplex
Night Sitter, The
Child's Play
Power, The
Midsommar
After Midnight
Dolemite is My Name
Varda by Agnes
Toy Story 4
Master Z: Ip Man Legacy
Man Who Never Was, The
Greener Grass
Scobie Malone
   
 
Newest Articles
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
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
   
 
  Duel of the Century, The A Right Royal RuckusBuy this film here.
Year: 1981
Director: Chu Yuan
Stars: Liu Yung, Yueh Hua, Jason Pai Piao, Ching Li, Choh Seung-Wan, Tang Ching, Sun Chien, Yeung Jing-Jing, Ngaai Fei, Helen Poon Bing-Seung, Goo Goon-Chung, Lam Fai Wong, Wong Yung
Genre: Martial Arts, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ace detective Lu Xiaofeng (Liu Yung) and blind-but-intuitive pal Hua Manlou (Sun Chien) are perplexed why Ye Gucheng (Jason Pai Piao), a swordsman both hold in high esteem, has challenged righteous hero Shimen Chuishiue (Yueh Hua) to a duel to the death, to be staged at the Imperial court. When questioned why he wants Shimen Chuishiue dead, Ye Gucheng proves frustratingly evasive. Torn between his respect for both heroes, Lu resolves to crack this mystery and uncovers an elaborate conspiracy involving imposters, scheming lamas, and ninja assassins lurking around every corner.

The Duel of the Century marked the second Shaw Brothers film where Liu Yung played super-sleuth Lu Xiaofeng for director Chu Yuan, following the equally lacklustre Clan of Amazons (1978). This time, not only does Yung sport the pencil-thin moustache, absent from the last film, that earned this literary hero the nickname “Four Eye-Browed Swordsman”, but co-star Yueh Hua vacates the role of blind swordsman Hua Manlou to essay the intrepid Shimen Chuishiue. Duel of the Century was later remade by director Andrew Lau and writer-producer Wong Jing as effects-laden extravaganza The Duel (2000), marking a rare instance where a bombastic remake outdoes its source.

By the early Eighties, Chu Yuan’s wu xia (swordplay) mysteries had grown overfamiliar. He later revised his formula with doses of comedy and surreal detours into psychedelic science fiction - as was the case with Descendant of the Sun (1983), The Hidden Power of Dragon Sabre (1984) and The Enchantress (1984) - but here falls back on rehashing stale clichés. The dense, though not impenetrable plot is overeliant on scenes of lengthy exposition to decipher its Chinese puzzlebox-like structure of schemes-within-schemes, villains-within-villains. Of course, die-hard fans (who, to be honest, include this writer) will find this another agreeable journey into Chu Yuan-land with secret cults, philosophical musings, improbable plot twists and sumptuous sets bathed in candy-coloured lighting. The gravity defying wire-fu proves arresting as every along with the outrageous super-weapons that include a gang of ninjas wielding flame-shooting candles, mad monks spinning cymbals like lethal flying frisbees, and death-by-exploding Chinese takeaway. Surely a cinematic first!

While the film teams prolific Shaw swordplay stalwart Jason Pai Piao with one of the studio’s most versatile leading men: Yueh Hua, the man to watch is Liu Yung. Yung tries something a little different with his light-hearted, mischievous take on the stock Chu Yuan detective hero. Although every bit the martial arts master, Lu Xiaofeng is a hero increasingly baffled by the labyrinthine mystery in which he is enmeshed, quite unlike the usual unflappably intrepid protagonists essayed by Yuan’s regular lead: Ti Lung. But Yuan makes too little of Lu’s moral dilemma as the plot grinds along laboriously. There is a surprising interlude in a gay bar, something one might not expect to see in a period martial arts film. Chu Yuan has been feted for the sympathetic depictions of homosexuality and transsexuals in his films, notably Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (1972), but the comedic sequence here falls on crude caricatures. Rather more amusing is the violent sword battle that develops into a game of one- upmanship between Lu Xiaofeng and Shimen Chuishiue as they compete to see who racks up the highest bodycount.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1544 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
Andrew Pragasam
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
  Rachel Franke
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: