Sin Dong-yeop’s “Duel:Final Round” presents a contemporary, Korean version of “Drunken Master”

Poong-ho is an amateur fighter who has inserted himself in a concept called Reality Fight, where people pay to fight accomplished fighters. However, his older brother, Kang-ho, an excellent fighter, and a cop with a reputation of being fearless and invisible, eventually discover his ploy. In order to shape him up, he forces him to do some community service, helping the elderly. Poong-ho ends up with a drunkard named Mr Hwang, who, eventually, is revealed to be the Drunken Master of Kung Fu.

At the same time, Kang-ho is investigating another aspect of Reality Fight, which is actually deadly, as a fearsome fighter is killing his opponents, with dead bodies turning up one after the other. One day, Kang-ho receives a call from this fighter for a duel, and decides to act alone. However, even he proves no match for Jae-hee, an executive with unparalleled technique and power, and ends up in a coma. Poong-ho decides to train with Mr Hwang, in order to exact revenge.

219_20160928153727_2

As in the original film, Sin Dong-yeop directs a movie that focuses on martial arts, humor, and in general, entertainment. An underlying message about the way the rich treat the poor does exist, but is minor and does not play a significant part in the film. However, the picture definitely achieves its goal, as the various fighting scenes are impressive, the comic ones are hilarious, and “Duel:Final Round” is very entertaining. The fact that the script follows “Drunken Master” to a large degree, including the nut breaking during the training sequence and even the presentation of the bloopers after the film’s ending, is definitely a nice touch, which moves on the borders of parody.

Regarding the martial arts element, two fights stand out. The one in the rain between Kang-ho and Jae-hee, which features some impressive slow-motion sequences and the final one, that uses the flickering lights of a club to give a music video essence to an otherwise “goofy” sequence. In that fashion, the cinematography, editing, special effects, and action choreography are on a very high level, particularly during the aforementioned scenes.

219_20160928153727_3

None of the protagonists is on a level of a Donnie Yen or a Wu Jing, but they make up for it with brio, in the case of Lee Joo-seung (Poong-ho) cockiness and style, in the case of Oh Ji-ho (Jae-hee) and… alcoholism, in the case of Sin Jeong-geun (Mr Hwang). As is usually the case in martial arts films, the acting is there to put a background to the action scenes, and “Duel:Final Round” is not the exception. However, Lee Joo-seung definitely succeeds on the comic aspect of the film.

“Duel:Final Round” succeeds in every aspect a martial arts film should, and thus presents a very entertaining outcome.

The film is distributed by M-Line Distribution

You May Also Be Interested In