Duel to the Death – Eureka Video (Blu-ray)
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1983
Director: Siu-Tung Ching
Writers: Siu-Tung Ching, David Lai, Manfred Wong
Cast: Norman Chu, Damian Lau, Flora Chong-Leen, Eddy Ko
Release Date: September 20th, 2021
Approximate Running Time: 87 Minutes 19 seconds
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Widescreen / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVCC
Rating: 18 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono Cantonese, LPCM Mono English
Region Coding: Region B
Retail Price: £24.99
"Every ten years, a duel is held between the finest Japanese and Chinese martial artists to determine whose Swordmanship is superior. During the Ming Dynasty, as the next duel approaches, the chosen candidates are caught in the middle of a battle between Ninjas and Shaolin monks. Only a Duel to the Death will settle the countries’ conflicts and stop the bloodshed." - synopsis provided by the distributor
Here’s the information provided about this release's transfer, "a new 2K restoration from the original film elements."
Duel to the Death comes on a 50 GB dual layer Blu-ray.
Disc Size: 44.1 GB
Feature: 27.7 GB
The source used for this transfer is in excellent shape. Colors are nicely saturated, image clarity and black levels look strong throughout.
This release comes with two audio options, a LPCM mono mix in Cantonese and a LPCM mono mix in English. Both audio mixes sound clean, clear and balanced throughout. Range wise ambient sounds are well-represented and action sequences sound robust. Included with this release are removable English subtitles for the Cantonese language track.
Extras for this release include US home video trailer (1 minute 48 seconds, LPCM mono English, no subtitles), original Hong Kong theatrical trailer (3 minutes 20 seconds, LPCM mono Cantonese with removable English subtitles), stills gallery #1 (37 images-production stills), stills gallery #2 (17 images-artwork & ephemera), alternate opening/closing credits from the English language release (3 minutes 54 seconds, LPCM mono), an archival interview with actress Flora Cheung (9 minutes 26 seconds, LPCM stereo English, no subtitles), an archival interview with actor Norman Chui Siu-keung (18 minutes 57 seconds, LPCM stereo Chinese with non-removable English subtitles), an interview with screenwriter Manfred Wong (32 minutes 28 seconds, LPCM stereo Chinese with English voiceover narration, no subtitles), an audio commentary by Asian film expert Frank Djeng (NY Asian Film Festival), limited edition O-Card slipcase [2000 copies] and a limited edition booklet [2000 copies] featuring new writing by James Oliver; and a reprint of Frank Djeng’s original liner notes from the US laserdisc release.
Duel to the Death was Siu-Tung Ching’s directorial debut. HIs other notable films include A Chinese Ghost Story trilogy, Swordsman 1-3 and Dr. Wai in the Scripture with No Words.
The narrative revolves around Chinese versus Japanese fighting styles. With China and Japan sending their best fighters to compete in a duel to the death. Also, thrown into the mix are shaolin monks and ninja’s that come with a wide array of weapons including bombs strapped to their bodies.
Content wise, Duel to the Death has elements synonymous with Wuxia and Chambara cinema. From its opening moments, Duel to the Death is a wall to wall action extravaganza that moves at a breakneck pace. And though the action sequences are the main attraction, it should-be noted that the narrative is best described as basic exposition. That said, what Duel to the Death is lacking narrative wise, it more than makes up with its impressive fight sequences.
Duel to the Death gets an excellent release from Eureka Video that comes with a solid audio/video presentation and comes with a wealth of insightful extras, highly recommended.
Written by Michael Den Boer