HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
Let's Scare Julie
Okko's Inn
Shaolin vs. Wu Tang
Fatman
   
 
Newest Articles
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
They're Still Not Sure It is a Baby: Eraserhead on Blu-ray
   
 
  Duel, The Fiiiight!!!
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, AdventureBuy from Amazon
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 2213 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: