決戰紫禁之巔 (2000)
The Duel

Reviewed by: Hyomil
Date: 04/07/2011

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/16/2006

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 Chow"... 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/Ekin Cheng swordplay film... which it really isn't. The film is based on a Ku Long story that was made as DUEL OF THE CENTURY and spoofed by Chow 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 THE 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.

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: Arshadnm6
Date: 04/11/2005
Summary: Better results than expected, but some obvious flaws....

The Third installment in the Trilogy of manga-style martial arts / fantasy stardom movies, with fortunately a lot less co-stars that simply appear in the movie for a few minutes before miraculously disappearing from the face of Andrew Lau’s World. The legendary tale of master swordsmen Yip Koo-Sing and Sai Mun Chiu Suet is retold by the same team that brought you ‘The Storm Riders’ with plenty of special effects on the table but a little less emphasis on budget.

Andy Lau play ‘Yip Koo Sing’, master of the Heavenly Flying Fairy Stance (a bit over doing it with the names of the stances), whom wishes to challenge the dull and honorable swordsman Sai Mun Chiu Suet (Ekin Cheung) at a duel. The whole duel-deal causes a big ruckus in the court and plenty of people are simply dying to watch this duel, that will be held in the Forbidden City. The Emperor of China (played by Patrick Tam, from other memorable roles in ‘Beast Cops’ and ‘The Legend of Speed’) issues 8 Golden Medals, to Luk Siu-Fung (played by the audacious ‘Nick Cheung’, from the Conman Series), that allow the bearer passage to watch the duel. However things start getting out of hand when a bunch of murders occur and no one knows whom is to blame, although some fingers point to poor old Sai Mun Chiu Suet as the guilty party. ‘Vicky Zhao’ also stars in this movie as the Emperors young but quirky sister, Princess Phoenix, whom has a crush on Yip Koo-Sing and also helps out Luk Siu-Fung in the investigation. But things go from bad to worse when Sai Mun Chiu Suet is set-up for one of the murders, and the family members of those murdered start taking things in their own hands.

This movie, I rate, better than ‘A Man called Hero’ but still not as good as ‘The Storm Riders’. Andrew Lau had fewer actors to juggle with in this movie although, although sometimes you wish a few cameos might have helped, from say ‘Shu Qi’ or ‘Anthony Wong’, whom came in the earlier two movies. Regardless this is definitely a good entertaining value for money movie which will not disappoint, provided your hopes aren’t too high up in the first place. My advise is not to take this as a serious movie at all, and simply watch it for the laughs, (**SPOILER**) although Andy Lau does die at the end of the movie, as always, so disappointments are few in hand.

Overall Rating: 7.6/10

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 12/07/2004
Summary: Quite good

With special effects getting better in HK movies, i had some expectations of this movie.

Oh the movie is more comedy than action or mystery. Nicky Cheung plays his role well!!

The action scenes are quite good, but not up to STORMRIDERS standards. Unfortunately, the ending was a disappointment. It relies more on special effects rather than good old fashion sword fighting till the death.

If you like this, you will like to see the
1981 Duel of the century,
a Shaw brothers production which basically has the same premise but does the plot twist a little better and has more characters involved in it. The Duel is a re make of this but is almost a completely different movie though there are obvious similarities with both.

I miss this type of sword movies so i maybe generous giving this


Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 09/25/2003

A reclusive kung-fu master known as "Saint Sword" (Lau) challenges another master known as "The God of Swords" (Cheng) to a duel. The challenge sets the city abuzz with anticipation and brings old rivalries out into the open. After a mysterious murder, an Imperial Guard called Dragon 9 (Cheung) begins to investigate and eventually uncovers a conspiracy to topple the Emperor himself.

Basically, The Duel follows the formula for many of Hong Kong's recent box office hits, with a large cast of good-looking people, lavish sets and big special effects. Many people have decried this latest trend in HK cinema, calling it too "Hollywood" and lacking that "certain something" of the films from the mid 1980's-mid 1990's. While I do agree that many of these films lack the power of the films produced during John Woo, Tsui Hark, Ringo Lam, etc.'s heyday, at their core, they provide some decent escapist entertainment. The Duel is no exception. It's the old adage of a little "something for everybody" -- action, comedy and romance.

You may not get any "cool points" with the HK film fanboys for liking this movie (my guess is if they had their way, we'd all be watching The Killer 5 or something like that) but if you're looking for a good way to kill a couple of hours, you could do a lot worse than The Duel. At any rate, it's a lot better than Lau's last effort A Man Called Hero, mostly because Ekin Cheng only has about 10 lines in the movie.

Reviewed by: Wu'xiaBadger
Date: 01/22/2003
Summary: Andy Lau, Andrew Lau-a perfect combination

I really dig Andrew Lau movies. He's got an excellent eye for detail (probably because he used to be a cinematographer), and a keen sense of style. While not as fast paced as "Stormriders", I'm glad he tried something new instead of cashing in on what made a lot of money. This movie has an excellent cast, although Sonny Chiba is sorely missed.
The plot seemed to contradict some of the events in "Stormriders," but that was a minor complaint. I liked the comedic element, and Nick Cheung was excellent. I just hope the Lau's (Andrew and Andy) work together again. Once again, the skill of the fighters gets second fiddle to the effects, but so long as you expect that, I doubt anyone would be dissapointed.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Wurms
Date: 07/21/2002
Summary: Snore!

This movie was horrible. It makes you wait the entire movie to see a big Duel (hint, the title of the movie) then it gives us this garbage fight at the end!

The entire movie is boring. Nothing happens. Go waste your money on some other Ekin Cheng fantasy adventure like StormRiders (cool movie) or A Man Called Hero (semi-cool movie).

Only see this if you want to know what Andy Lau looks like with bad hair extensions.


Reviewer Score: 1

Reviewed by: Kyashan
Date: 06/06/2002
Summary: Not so bad, not so well

This is 3rd movie of Andrew Lau about new age of martial arts. A good plot-story but is bad if comparisoned with The Storm Riders or A man called Hero.
Ekin Cheng and Andy Lau are always the bests.


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: Dyogenez
Date: 05/27/2002
Summary: Nice story, bad action

This is really not an action movie. For something titled "The Duel", set in ancient time (Ming Dynasty maybe?), and that starts with an assassination attempt it turned away from action to comedy and mystery. This wasn't a bad misconception. Nicky Cheung does great job as the comedy relief as Dragon 9 -- the main character of this film. He was definetely the high point of the story. Andy Lau and Ekin Cheung have overall minor screen time in comparison to Nicky Cheung, but are the two duelists of the film. The main twist and mystery that is played out is done great as well. Kristy Yeung, Charity from Storm Riders, again plays Ekin Cheungs love interst in a great, but quiet romance. There always seemed to be a great actor or actress on the screen, keeping my attention throughout. I enjoyed this one a lot, and I'm glad it's on DVD in the states now! 8/10.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 02/19/2002

For the martial arts genre, this movie is nowhere near as good as the average stuff that came out in the early 90s, but it is still one of the best in the last couple of years. As a general film, it is slightly better, but there's nothing special about this, and the special effects are rather standard. The Storm Riders was masterpieceful; A Man Called Hero was pretty decent but not as good; and A Duel is still not bad but shy of A Man Called Hero. In short, the trilogy gets worse as it decends. Ekin Cheng shows up for 2 minutes at the beginning and doesn't make an appearence again till the end of the movie. He's in maybe 15 minutes tops. Nicky Cheung is, of course, the best element of this movie.

Still, it's a lot better than, say, China Strike Force.


Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: tomliffe
Date: 06/23/2001
Summary: Quite good....

I thought I was really going to like this but I didn't, it was still fairly enjoyable though. It's the usual story about emperor's, princes and princesses with a lot of comedy. Not much sword-fighting but then it's not a swordfighting film, more like a spoof on the genre and 007! I quite liked the swordfighting in it, it looked good to me but most people seemed to think it was really bad. I didn't really find this film funny though so that's were it fell down for me. There were a few funny scenes but it tried to hard to be funny and failed IMO. From the three films the same team have worked on I'd say right at the top would be Stormriders which I loved, then this in the middle and A Man Called Hero at the bottom which I hated.

Reviewed by: runo_jp
Date: 06/14/2001
Summary: the duel

I went to watch a movie with Andy Lau and Ekin Cheng. I saw a movie with a few minutes of Andy Lau, and a few seconds of Ekin Cheng. Laughable!
3/10 (I liked all the parts with Nick Cheung very much though!)

Reviewed by: shelly
Date: 02/09/2001

THE DUEL is an adequate exercise in translating comic-book-superheros to the screen. Nothing more. It was one of the most popular films in 2000 in HK, though, so if you're curious about what HKers are still going to their cinemas to see, then it's worth watching. That said, I sort of enjoyed the movie more than my brain wanted to: director/d.p. Andrew Lau makes a lot of pop-junk (and a few pop-masterpieces), but he has an amazing visual imagination, and can concoct the occasional momentarily breathtaking images on the screen.

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Paul Fonoroff
Date: 11/23/2000

Anyone hoping that there might be new life in a new millennium of Chinese New Year blockbusters will have their hopes dashed by The Duel. Co-written and co-produced by Wong Jing and Manfred Wong, the movie takes on two commercial formulas but fails to make them into a cohesive—or entertaining—whole. One strand is the costume martial arts farce made popular by Stephen Chiau in the early 1990s; the other thread is the comic book-based superhero genre that was a box office bonanza two years ago with Stormriders. Both producers have considerable experience in these types of films, and The Duel director-cinematographer Andrew Lau Wai-keung’s credits include Stormriders. Add to the mixture Stormriders star Ekin Cheng Yi-kin and singing idol Andy Lau Tak-wah, and The Duel seems a surefire gold mine. While the box office returns have been okay, they are nowhere near that of this Chinese New Year’s champ, Toy Story II. Just a few years ago, it would have been unthinkable for a Hollywood picture to out-gross the homegrown product. But in the year 2000, Hong Kong audiences are choosier than a decade ago, and formulaic spectacles like The Duel no longer satisfy the masses.

For one thing, audiences are getting wise to these producers’ tricky star billing. Last year, Wong Jing’s The Tricky Master top-billed Stephen Chiau, and viewers were disappointed when it turned out to be Nick Cheung Ka-fai in the lead with comedy master Chiau in for an extended cameo. This time around, it is Cheng and Lau who loom large on the posters. But they make only brief appearances every fifteen or twenty minutes, until the big duel in the last reel. Once again, Nick Cheung, a talented comedian lacking star quality, has the biggest role. In 1999, he was the second busiest actor in Hong Kong, starring in eleven films. But it is ultimately the public who chooses its stars, and so far they haven’t cottoned to him in a stellar way.

It is as if two different movies are going on in The Duel. The part with Nick Cheung is a silly spoof with the comedian as Secret Agent 009 in the Forbidden City. Though the era is the Ming Dynasty, the dialogue is the twenty-first century’s latest Canto slang. It is a stale reminder of Stephen Chiau’s 1996 farce Forbidden City Cop, in which he played agent 008. There are occasionally amusing moments, references to the Ming version of paparazzi and such. Lots of silly stuff, like an ancient umbrella with 82 functions a la one of James Bond’s gadgets. But the gags are so scattered that they never build up any momentum or a sustained sense of mirth.

The part with Andy Lau and Ekin Cheng is a non-comedic martial arts fantasy. Yip Ku-sing (translated as Cool-son Yeh in the subtitles, played by Lau) and Sai-moon Chui-suet (translated as Simon the Snow Blower, played by Cheng) are adversaries, swordsmen with special powers who eventually duel to the death. There are plenty of computer-generated special effects that look exactly as such. The grand finale, the “Duel on the Summit of the Forbidden City” (which is the movie’s Chinese title), looks particularly phony, with the fighters flying about, and brilliant light streaming through the ancient buildings and reaching the heavens.

The “serious” story is extremely muddled and never meshes with the comic shenanigans. Neither swordsmen nor agent are very interesting, a quality shared by the ladies in their lives: Ching (Kristy Yang), Simon’s pretty but insipid wife; Yuk Yu-yi (Taiwanese pin-up Tian Xin), a bubbly courtesan employed by 009; and Princess Phoenix (Vicky Zhao Wei), Cool-son’s pouty lover. Zhao enjoyed a meteoric rise to television superstardom last year, but if she is ever to make the transition to the big screen, she sure needs stronger material than The Duel.

This review is copyright (c) 2000 by Paul Fonoroff. All rights reserved. No part of the review may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Reviewed by: MilesC
Date: 06/09/2000
Summary: Well...

I saw this movie while the database was on hiatus, and I can barely remember a thing about it now, let alone write a real review. Instead, a list of impressions:

Only a handful of very mediocre action.

Either I was too tired to be watching movies, or the plot wasn't especially engaging.

Vaguely amusing for English speakers, probably funnier in Cantonese... But still seemed like a weak comedy.

Not as painful as The Storm Riders or A Man Called Hero, but that's not much of a recommendation.

In short, I don't recall feeling assaulted by this movie; it was a relatively painless experience. On the other hand, you can probably tell it didn't do much for me either way.

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 05/26/2000
Summary: Director Parodies His Own Films

When I saw that "The Duel" was an Andrew Lau film, produced by Wong Jing, I expected a great deal. Nobody is better at deflating and spoofing the absurdness of the movie business than Wong Jing. There are a couple of good spoofs on Lau's own "Stormriders" and "A Man Called Hero," unintentional or not, but they are far and few in betweeen.

Pop stars Ekin Cheng and Andy Lau are the duelists. The two work well because they portray archetypes that allow them to be veneer and wooden. Andy Lau has never been better in a costume piece than in "The Duel." Andy Lau's acting is getting better. He seems to be concentrating on this aspect of his career. When Andy's coup attempt to usurp the emperor fails, the grand tragedy actually works. We empathize with Lau's Yip Cool Sing. Ekin's blandness also works in this film. That is more to do with the fact that we don't see much of his Snowblower character except as a glorified cameo.

Nick Cheung tries to provide the comic relief, but I kept on thinking that this would have been a perfect vehicle for Stephen Chow, but he probably cost too much. The more I see Nick, the more I miss the antics of Chow. Nick just seems a little too lackluster. And that cheapo mustache looked terrible.

The movie suffers from long periods of tedium and very little action, save for the beginning and the end of this movie. The film could have used some editing to tighten up the pace and to get rid of the extraneous characters. Nick being one of them--he didn't add or subtract from the film, only diverting the attention from Andy and Ekin's duel. Wong Jing shied away from more parody, probably because Andrew Lau was on hand to direct and he wanted to spare him some of the lampooning.

"The Duel" was a half-hearted attempt, which could have been better if Wong Jing took the reigns and went for the jugular, to either go all the way to parody the comic book superhero genre or to play it straight. The movie straddled the fence and turned out to be just another bland costume piece.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: ryan
Date: 02/26/2000
Summary: Show off of Nick Cheung

Out of the four Chinese New Year Hong Kong movies, Andrew LAU's "The Duel" is the one that we cannot easily predict what will be in the movie. With the other three movies, you can tell their genres or even the plot summary quite easily. This movie is all the more interesting when we consider the casting -- Andy LAU, Nick CHEUNG and Ekin CHENG in an action comedy.

"The Duel" is a story partially adapted from CHA's popular novel using only the duel between Yeh Cool-Son (Andy LAU) and "Simon the Snow Blower" (Ekin CHENG). Dragon 9 (Nick CHEUNG), one of the emperor's main ministers, is assigned to sell the eight available tickets for an audience to watch the fight at the top of the palace. At the same time, Princess Fifung (Vicky CHIU) who admires Yeh, falls in love with him. However, she is ignorant of the conspiracy behind Yeh ....

"The Duel" is an action comedy which is a bit suprise when you consider the casting of Andy LAU and Ekin CHENG; it looks more like a decent historial action movie. In fact, it is really a historial action comedy! The main reason is the casting of Nick CHEUNG Ka-fai in the movie. Without the presence of Dragon 9 in the movie, the movie would become a typical historical action movie rather than a comedy.

The function of Nick CHEUNG becomes apparent in the first 5 minutes of the movie with the fight between Thief Ghost (TSUI Siu-keung), Dragon 9 and "Simon the Snow Blower". Dragon 9's dirty character in the movie has the audience laughing. Later on, when he returns to the minister, the sub-plot involving him, Dragon 7 (LAM Hiu-fung) and Minister (WONG Yat-fei) proves that it is a comedy. Throughout the movie, Nick CHEUNG has every chance to show off his skills as a good comedy actor. The lovemaking joke is a bit risque but really entertaining.

Andy LAU and Ekin CHENG seem to be cast in this movie only to attract an audience with their name rather than by their roles. Having seen Andy's box office drawing power for his films suggests that this is the reason for his presence here. In fact, he has done no more than what is expected in the movie. Perhaps Ekin CHENG's image as a hero from roles such as "Storm Riders" (1998) and "A Man Called Hero" (1999) is too deeply ingrained, his role in "The Duel" looks very close to that of "A Man Called Hero" (1999). Usually for Ekin's role there is a girl around him and Ziqing (Kristy YEUNG Kung-yu) fills this role in this movie.

Kristy YEUNG Kung-yu plays Ekin's girfriend; at first, after being misled by the real Ghost Thief, she mistakes "Simon the Snow Blower" for Ghost Thief but during the ensuing battle Simon saves her and she then becomes Simon's girlfriend. Her role in the movie is the female romantic lead which she plays quite adequately. However, her performance is overshadowed by that of another actress, Vicky CHIU.

Vicky CHIU, who commenced her rise to popularity in Hong Kong by playing a servant in a TV Drama about a Dynasty, now plays the mischievous Princess Feifung. One of her roles is to pair with Nick CHEUNG for laughs; she is cute in this movie though it is reminiscent of "Little Swallow" in TV Dramas, Vicky is natural in her acting.

Being an action comedy, action is important to the movie. CHING Siu-tung has done a great job with the action design. There are several major fights in the movie. The beginning and the end of the movie are well-done.

In short, "The Duel" is an historical action comedy as well as a showcase for Nick CHEUNG Ka-fai. His contribution to the movie is really remarkable. Without him, the movie wouldn't be at all outstanding.

Written by Ryan Law, from Hong Kong Movie DataBase, on 6 February, 2000.