Issue #256            HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES            March 21st, 2005

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The Duel of the Century
(1981; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Luk Siu-fung ji kuet jin chin hau
Mandarin: Lu Xiaofeng zhi jue zhan qian hou
English: Luk Siu-fung (Lu Xiaofeng): Duel, Before and After


RATING: 5/10


Resourceful martial hero Lu Xiaofeng (Liu Yung, sporting the regulation moustache this time and bearing an uncanny resemblance to Melvin Wong Kam-sun) finds himself in the middle of a new conundrum when it is announced that matchless swordsmen Shimen Chuishiue (Yueh Hua) and Ye Gucheng (Jason Pai Piao) will fight a duel to the death. Lu’s attempts to determine the reasons behind this development are stymied by Ye, who admits that there is an ulterior motive but refuses to elaborate until after the fight. In the meantime, Lu has plenty to occupy his time in the form of booby traps, poisoned beverages, imposters sporting MISSION IMPOSSIBLE-style peel away faces, scheming llamas, and would-be assassins waiting for him around seemingly every corner.

Liu Yung Jason Pai Yueh Hua

Much of THE DUEL OF THE CENTURY will seem familiar to anyone who has seen THE DUEL (issue #116), as it was based on the same source (though less faithfully). Liu does as well playing "The Four Eye-Browed Swordsman" (a reference to the character’s pencil-thin moustache) as he did in CLAN OF AMAZONS (issue #240), but this partial adaptation of Gu Long’s multi-volume "Luk Siu Fung" novel is neither as engaging or stylish. Consequently, one is less inclined to keep up with the seemingly endless machinations and double-crosses Gu’s stories thrive on. Even with all of this scheming and swordplay (though there is still probably not enough of the latter to keep martial arts fans happy), the story often seems repetitive, particularly in its reliance on Lu’s ability to render enemies powerless using his vice-like "Marvellous Finger". Never the most animated actor, Jason Pai is more wooden than stoic and Yueh gets less screen time than expected, given how significant his character is to the plot. Martial arts mysteries have a built-in fascinatation, and can be especially satisfying if one is exposed to an excess number of plotless slug and kick fests, but THE DUEL OF THE CENTURY is merely marginal in terms of story and execution and ranks as one of director Chor Yuen’s lesser works in this realm. Watch for appearances by Sun Chien (in a non-fighting role as the blind but brilliant Hua Manlou), Cho Tat-wah, Ching Li (as Ye’s frail love), Lau Siu-kwan, and Yeung Ching-ching.

Jason Pai (left), Ching Li Sun Chien Liu Yung


Aside from slightly different packaging, this Taiwanese release should be identical to the HK version offered by Intercontinental. No complaints about the image – details are very good, hues are lush and contrasts are strong. Plus, in a very welcome switch from the norm (and CLAN OF AMAZONS), no complaints about the audio – left in the original mono, it is perfectly fine as is. The familiar Celestial supplements are on-hand.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Deltamac Taiwan. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.

DVD Specifications

  • Taiwan Release
  • NTSC Region 3 Only
  • Deltamac Taiwan Co. Ltd. #SBD2208
  • Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Post-synced Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 94 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Ontario: R
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG
  • Contains moderate violence


  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful