Duel to the Death (1983)
Director - Ching Siu-Tung
DVD Released by : 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment/Fortune Star
Player reviewed with : Malata 520
Receiver reviewed with : Sony 925
Cantonese and English Soundtracks 5.1 Dolby and DTS
Chinese Subtitles
Enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs
Region 1
Running Time : 87 mins.

DUEL TO THE DEATH features Chui Siu Keung as a Japanese Shogun warrior and Damian Lau as a Chinese warrior from the Shaolin Temple who must compete in a duel to see which is better. A lot depends on this as each represents their respective discipline. While the two accept their fates as warriors and want an honorable fight, a Japanese Monk, played by Eddie Ko Hung, has other plans. The Monk, assisted by Ninjas, steals secret Shaolin scrolls in hopes of wreaking havoc on all who oppose them.

Directed by Ching Siu-Tung, DUEL TO THE DEATH is a fantasy swordplay film that is full of action. The action sequences are very well filmed and include liberal amounts of gore. The Ninjas have lots of trick up their sleeves including suicide bombers and flying on gliders. They also have an odd one where what appears to be one giant Ninja is actually several naked female Ninjas. This film is great for fans of fantasy swordplay as well as old school kung fu movies.

Fox's DUEL TO THE DEATH has trailers as an extra feature. Like the other Fox releases in this wave, it has Dolby 5.1 and DTS in both English and Cantonese.

DUEL TO THE DEATH is average in regards to the image. While the print itself is in good shape and free of damage, the transfer shows some minor mosquito noise during night scenes and is especially noticeable in the beginning of the movie. I watched this on my 47 inch Panasonic so it's possible that a smaller screen may lessen this effect. The scenes during the day looked very good and showed good color and detail. Overall, I'm not as impressed with this transfer as the others from Fox/Fortune Star but it is by no means bad.

There are English and Cantonese Dolby 5.1 and DTS tracks. I used the 5.1 Cantonese track and it is mixed very well. The surrounds are used for sound effects and ambiance. The dialogue is never drowned out by the music or effects and sounds natural. This is a well done mix even though the original theatrical mix would be preferred.

The subtitles are easy to read and there are no misspellings or grammatical errors. These are dubtitles, which is when the subtitles are exactly what is said on the English dub. The text is well timed with what is being said and stays on the screen long enough to be read.

As mentioned above, the extras consist of only a trailer.

DUEL TO THE DEATH is a classic movie and some consider it to be one the best swordplay films ever made. I haven't seen other versions of this film on DVD to compare so I can't say if others may have a better transfer. While the night scenes show some noise on the big TV, the overall image is quite watchable. If you are a fan of the movie, I would still recommend this DVD and would even say it's a good blind purchase for those interested in swordplay movies.

Reviewed 12/28/2003