The Duel

Eager to please, Hong Kong director Andrew Lau (The Storm Riders) concocts an uneasy mix of farce, fantasy, and martial arts in this 2000 Hong Kong period piece about two rival Beijing swordsmen of the Ming dynasty (Cantonese pop stars Andy Lau and Ekin Cheng) wending their way toward the mother of all duels, while an imperial minister (Nick Cheung) tries to solve a series of murders. The director trots out an assortment of fitfully funny sight gags and one-liners as the film ambles through a series of confusing plot twists, and even the lengthy fight scenes seem tiresomely juvenile, relying more on computer-generated effects than on choreographer Ching Siu-tung (A Chinese Ghost Story). 109 min.

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