Blu-ray Review: Duel to the Death

Ching Wan and Hashimoto looking out to sea

When Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was released in 2000 it became a massive box office hit and captured the imagination of film fans across the world, spawning a number of imitators. However, its popularity didn’t come as a surprise to some. Ching Siu-tung, aka Tony Ching, had been working as a director and stunt coordinator for decades. He found success with the Swordsman and Chinese Ghost Story films, and went on to be an action choreographer on international hits like Hero and House of Flying Dagger. His directorial debut was Duel to the Death.

Every ten years, a duel is held between the greatest swordsmen from China and Japan. The two competitors are chosen by the respective leading martial arts houses to battle to the death. Ching Wan (Damian Lau) and Hashimoto (Norman Chu) are chosen to represent the honour of their countries. The former is a peace-loving devotee, trained by shaolin monks, whilst the latter is a merciless samurai. As the time of the match approaches, they find themselves embroiled in a larger plot.

Duel to the Death is a livewire martial arts saga which is overflowing with inventiveness, framed in bold and bright colours. Whilst the story is full of intrigue and conspiracies, it’s the almost constant action which captures the imagination. It’s just so well done and the wider confrontation between ninjas and shaolin monks mixes in well with the central arc. Duel to the Death is thoroughly entertaining and provides a great dose of beautifully choreographed swordplay.

Special features:

  • Limited Edition O-Card slipcase featuring new artwork by Darren Wheeling [2000 copies]
  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray from a new 2K restoration from the original film elements
  • Original Cantonese audio
  • Optional English dubbed audio
  • Optional English Subtitles, newly revised for this release (including correct translations for the Japanese characters, incorrect on all previous English language releases of the film)
  • Brand new feature length audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival)
  • An Interview with Manfred Wong – an extensive interview with the screenwriter, covering his involvement in Duel to the Death and his illustrious and varied career in the Hong Kong entertainment industry
  • Duel Identity – Archival interview with actor Norman Chui Siu-keung
  • Flora Cheung on Duel to the Death – Archival interview with actress Flora Cheung
  • Alternate English credits
  • Stills galleries including rare production stills, artwork, and ephemera
  • Trailers
  • A LIMITED EDITION collector’s booklet featuring new writing by James Oliver; and a reprint of Frank Djeng’s original liner notes from the US laserdisc release [2000 copies]

Duel to the Death is released on Blu-ray by Eureka Classics on 20 September

Previous Premiere: Brisbane artist Aren't unveils debut single, the transfixing 'The Black from the Dark ft McKisko' and announces debut EP.
Next EP: Night Thieves - Spiral

No Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.