review by Jerome
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This was Andrew Lau's third film in a trilogy of CGI wu xia films. Although not directly wu xia, it has a mix of comedy and drama. The plot is easy to follow in some parts and other times a little distorted such as Andy Lau being an illegitimate child of the former emperor, forced to take his mother's name and falling in love with his half sister, princess phoenix (Vicki Zhao). We never actually see Simon the Snowblower communicate with Yip Gu Sing until the actual duel, which ponders the question of how Simon the Snowblower finds out about it because Dragon 9 never actually tells him the following verses: “tin ngoi gu sing, yat gim fei sin, yuen siu ga jit, gu yuet dong hung, yu gwan yat jin, ji gam ji din" which translates as "heavenly cool son (gu sing) like a fairy swordsman, on the 15th of the first month the moon shines like the sun, we fight just this once atop the forbidden city"
Swords Saint, Cool Son Yeh/ Yip Gu Sing/Yeh Gu Cheng (Andy Lau) sets to return a royal jade seal stolen by the ghost thief in exchange to fight Simon the Snowblower (Sai Mun Chui Suet /Xi Men Chui Xue ), the God of Sword (Eking Cheng) at the summit of the forbidden city. The emporer (Patrick Taam Yiu Man)issues Dragon 9 (Nick Cheung) with 8 gold medallions to allow certain people to watch the duel. However, news spreads out about this duel and many people desperate to watch it have their own medals made so they can enter the palace to watch the duel of the century. However, a series of murders occur before the duel takes place, so Dragon 9 investigates to unravel a plot to kill the emporer...but who is so eager?
This film is sort of a remake of the Shaw Bros classic Duel of the Century with a minor change to one character, this being Dragon 9. In the orginal Dragon 9 is Luk Siu Fung, to which this character belongs from Gu Lung's novels.
There is a cameo appearance
from Norman Tsui/Chu playing the ghost thief/tian shan clan leader to whom Ekin's
character fights in the beginning. It's quite funny to see Nick Cheung's Dragon
9 get scarred stiff from scorpions. The inclusion of the innovative umbrella
provides some comic relief at the beginning of the film.
We also see Kristy Yeung reprise her role as Ekin's lover.
Being a film based on a wu xia novel we have the outer space flying fairy sword stance to watch out for from both duelists and some amazing CGI effects. However, it would have been nice to see more physical sword fighting but maybe the comedy makes up for it. Some people have commented that Ekin and Andy's acting appears to be a little wooden during the film and by all means it certainly appears that way.
I've watched this film roughly ten times on VCD and surprisingly for VCD, the subtitles are quite good.
Unlike its previous films The StormRiders and A Man Called Hero, the Duel is the weakest of the three.
I rate it 7/10
on this movie on HK Neo Reviews Forum
Director: Director: Andrew Lau
Cast: Nick Cheung, Andy Lau, Kristy Yang, Ekin Cheng, Vicki Zhao
Reviewed by Jerome (Bart Simpson), September 2005