12 April 2019 | ckormos1
One of many "Duels" and one of the best
This genre of films is well noted for title problems. Many movies have two, three, or even four alternate titles. The titles frequently do not relate to anything happening during the film. This movie is known as "The Duel" and "Duel of Iron Fists" and "Duel of the Shaolin Fist" and "Iron Fist Pillage" and "Big Duel". The situation is further complicated because Shaw Brothers made another movie in 1971 starring David Chiang and Ti Lung titled "Duel of Fists" or "Duel of Fists" or "Striking Fist".
There is more. Assuming you have a copy of this movie there may be a lot missing. This is common because of censorship of the violence. I have the Celestial release and the run time is 1:45:16. I am aware of releases up to about fifteen minutes short of that. I can't even get into the many VHS differences. Besides, that technology is 99% extinct anyway. I recommend acquire the Celestial DVD and you will do good.
This movie starts with Ti Lung getting fresh ink. After the opening credits, Yeung Chi-Hing and Lee Wang-Chun meet. When I first started watching these movies I had the usual problem, as an old white guy, of telling the actors apart. I identified Lee Wang Chun as "Mr. Smiley" because he had the best smile I have ever seen on screen.
Almost all the fights in this movie are out and out brawls. Brawls can be done the lazy way resulting in stunt men jumping around all over the screen in the long shots then brief shaky close ups of two or three strikes. The fights then all look alike and boring. The brawls in this movie are done right. There is a direction or flow to the movement instead of nervous looking stunt men hopping around in the background awaiting their turn as the lead actor is only attacked by the man he looks at. The sots stay long enough to show all the moves and there are more than just one or two moves before a cut. Knives are the main weapon but not the only weapon. The overall result is that the fights all look different and never get boring.
Five minutes before the movie ends guns come out. It is my outspoken opinion that guns simply have no business in martial arts movies. The audience is good if gun aren't even mentioned, just pretend guns don't exists no matter what time period the movie is in.
Any Shaw Brothers movie with both David Chiang and Ti Lung starring are considered mandatory viewing for any fan of this genre. I think I watched this movie twice and made some notes then watched it a third time to write this review. Initially I rated it an eight out of ten. Today I will round that down to a seven but still well above average for the genre in 1971.