Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Review: Duel of Fists

  • Directed by Chang Cheh
  • Starring David Chiang, Ti Lung, Pawana Chanajit, Chan Sing
  • A Shaw Brothers Production, released in 1971, filmed on location in Bangkok; DVD release in 2004 by Celestial
  • Rating: 4/5

Another great Shaw Brothers title has been released on DVD by Celestial. Directed by Chang Cheh, David Chiang and Ti Lung star in this contemporary urban drama, set around the Thai boxing underworld of the 1970s.

Chiang plays an engineer in Hong Kong, who finds out he has a half brother in Thailand, and is implored to go find him by his dying father.

The dapper Chiang then jets off to Bangkok, landing during the water-splashing Thai New Year Songkran holiday. As he begins his search for his half-brother, he meets a helpful Thai woman, played by Thai leading lady Pawana Chanajit.

There is some cool footage of a less-congested, greener Bangkok. Landmarks including the Dusit Thani Hotel and the soon-to-be-demolished Siam Intercontinental Hotel. But Chiang makes up for the pollution by wearing some loud get ups. I'm sure they were styling threads for the times, but wow. A red cowboy hat? Nice scarves, boys.

The best fight scenes are in the boxing ring, with Ti Lung against a guy named Cannon who kills all his oppenents.

This isn't quite Ong-Bak, but I enjoyed it immensely.

Many of Celestial's remastered Shaw Bros titles are now available for around US$5 from United in Thailand. They have Thai and Mandarin soundtracks with Thai and English subtitles. They are missing the special features of the Hong Kong releases, but the picture and sound qualities are excellent, which is all I need to enjoy these kung-fu cult classics.

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