HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Shortcut
Stray
Butterfly Murders, The
Pimp
Feedback
Lady is a Square, The
Zack Snyder's Justice League
Dark Rendezvous
Silk Road
   
 
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
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
   
 
  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 2292 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
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: