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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Blu-ray Review: The Duel Story Makes Hardly Any Sense

A small western film tries desperately to be an Oscar contender.
Review by Erika Ashley

In the late 1880s, a young boy watches a ruthless, God-fearing “Preacher” murder his father in a cold-blooded knife-duel. Years later the boy, David Kingston, grows up to be a Texas Ranger and is put on a special case when bodies of deceased Mexicans begin popping up in a river outside of a quiet town. The man that runs the town is the very man that killed Kingston’s father 22 years before. Kingston brings his wife along with him reluctantly to investigate the deaths but gets caught up quickly in the inner-workings of a much larger problem. Kingston soon finds himself in a duel, fighting for his wife and his life after he uncovers the truth.

I cannot remember this film being released in theaters which forces me to believe that this little ditty snuck under the radar and was forced straight to DVD/Blu-ray. Surprisingly the with two big name actors as front-runners, Woody Harrelson and the ever popular and “dreamy” Liam Hemsworth, one would think that this film would be half decent, which it is not. The acting is over the top to the point of comical. Hemsworth, which we all know is Australian and does indeed have an accent tries to do his best southern drawl but it mostly sounds like he has mashed potatoes in his mouth half the time and the other half he’s focusing too hard on just trying to sound American that he doesn’t even use his southern drawl.

Besides the poor acting the story makes hardly any sense and is far too convoluted because this western drama is desperately trying to be something it’s not, which is Oscar-worthy. There are a lot of side-stories outside of the main plot line of a son ultimately avenging his father’s death. Including a Preacher turned healer and prophet taking over a small town for his own doings. The same Preacher running a murder club for wealthy travelers. A Texas Ranger/CSI in the 1880s solving murders. And so on and so on. There was just too much and each story fell flat because they could not stand independently.

The only thing that The Duel had going for it was the picture’s crisp digital quality, it was not shot on standard film but instead must have been digital. I tend to like western’s to be shot on film to add the texture, especially during night scenes because it just adds to the aesthetics but The Duel was crisp, clear, and bright. The audio was decent in surround sound and but fairly low and needed the volume cranked up enough to hear and understand some of the low speaking parts of Hemsworth’s brooding southern drawl.

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