This movie was amazing. The acting, the story, the directing, the setting, the costumes, the fight scenes, the visual effects—seriously, I could go on and on. I was constantly amazed while watching it. Like I said, I'm not a film student or anything, and I normally only watch movies for entertainment... but I also love a movie that is willing to go beyond the standard edge-of-your-seat mentality, and use actual film techniques in order to tell the story. It's movies like these that remind me that film can be more than just entertainment--they can be a form of art too.
That’s one of the reasons I love watching Period movies and dramas—I’m so rarely disappointed with them, and they’re always entertaining and engaging. Duelist was no exception: everything was so vivid, so entrancing, and so surreal. I just couldn’t get enough.
As usual, one of the main things that drew me to this movie was the fantastic chemistry between the male and female leads. Every scene they appeared in together had me captivated—I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes away. All they had to do was just look at one another, and you could literally feel the sparks flying off the screen; watching them duel was like watching an intricate, beautiful dance. Whatever it was, it sure wasn’t fighting!
I love how on the surface they seemed very different: the man, known only as Sad Eyes, a lonely, tortured soul, nearly unrivaled in combat; the woman, Nam-Sun, a bad tempered detective, who half the time, acts like a wild, untamed animal, and yet is capable of holding her own against this highly skilled sword-fighter. Despite their apparent differences, there seems to be an unspoken kinship between them... as if they're connected in a much more basic, primitive way... but the only way they know how to express it, is through fighting.
Honestly, I don’t think I’ve been this impressed with a movie couple in a long time. Usually, because of the time constraint, I have trouble getting as emotionally invested in the pairing as I'd like to--something that comes easily when I watch dramas and anime's. But here, I felt they got it just right—not too little, not too much. I was hooked from the moment their eyes met. Heck, even when she was freaking out, and casually tossing food at him, I was thinking what a cute couple they make, lol… yeah, I’m a little messed up, but I don’t care. J
One thing's for sure: Kang Dong-won and Ha Ji-won are amazing actors. To be fair, I've seen them in many other movies and dramas (actually Kang Dong-won was in Temptation of Wolves, which I reviewed earlier), and there isn't a project of their's yet, that I haven't enjoyed. Plus, this movie is very reminiscent of Damo which I absolutely loved (and which Ha Ji-won also starred in) so that could be another reason why I loved it so much!
Oh! And the music in this movie was beautiful… it fit each scene perfectly, and really added to the tension. I was very impressed—same goes with the directing. In a movie like this, if you don’t notice the varying camera angles, freeze-frames, and brilliant use of colors… then you’re missing out on much more than you realize. This isn’t just a typical action/martial arts movie. It’s a form of art.
The only problem I had with this film, was that there were several parts towards the end that were a little confusing--but even then, I was too interested in the character interaction to care. They could have stopped a climactic fight and started singing 'I have a lovely bunch of coconuts' and I would have sat there, enthralled.Wow. I really have it bad for this movie, don't I?!
In conclusion: this is a movie you really need to see. If you can't make it past the first 10 minutes, then consider yourself one of the haters, and resign yourself to the fact that we'll probably never have similar tastes in movies. If, however, you loved it, and sat on the edge of your seat from start to finish... you may show me your gratitude in the form of cookies and flowers. ^_^