The Duel (2000)

Directed by
Just about passes as entertainment
Reviewed by Simon on 2006-01-16

At some point in the late 90's, Wong Jing seems to have got the idea in his head that Nick Cheung could be "the new Stephen Chiau"... based on what evidence, I have no idea. The man is not too bad in understated dramatic roles, but has nothing like the charisma to be in a film like this, and is *especially* bad at comedy.

No wonder then, that the film was mostly advertised as an Andy Lau and Ekin Cheng swordplay film... which it really isn't. The film is based on a Ku Long story that was made by Shaw Brothers as Duel Of The Century and spoofed by Stephen Chiau in Forbidden City Cop - a more clear influence on this particular film (Cheung's character is numerically related to Chiau's).

After their smash hit with STORMRIDERS, Wong Jing and Andrew Lau proceeded to drain the bank drier with every subsequent attempt to do a big CGI martial arts film, mainly because they put far less effort or money into the actual films and hoped to sell them to the audience by subterfuge. THE DUEL is probably the weakest of their collaborations, with poor scripting, acting, comedy, action and special effects - and little of Andrew Lau's visual style showing through. Vicky Zhao and Elvis Tsui make some effort to act but they can't defeat the charisma void that is Nick Cheung. It's obvious the film wasn't exactly cheap by HK standards, but money certainly wasn't spent wisely, and the result is a film that just about passes as entertainment but certainly isn't something I'd be inclined to watch again or recommend to others.