Will I find them or will I die trying?
I can see the film as an experimental. It contains a story line, but it isn’t as compelling to be considered as a narrative. In experimental, there is one aspect of film that the film makers are meddling with, that becomes more like an actor as it occurs much often in the seen. In this case, Duelist experiments, or show offs, various editing and cinematography techniques to tell a story.
The film tells a story about Detective Namsoon (Ha Ji-won) as she investigates Gu Jang Gon(Kang Dong-wo), a culprit in recent murder and an accomplice in an alleged political agenda. Actually, the reason I watched the film is solely because of Ha Ji-won, not that I am die-hard fan, but my friend happens to have a copy on all Ha Ji-Won films. I decided to watch her on film, after I watched her hit TV series, Secret Garden. Like the series, she brings again this playful character, to which you’re either entertained or annoyed.
There are lot of various experiments happened. I called them experiments because every execution is supposed to help the narrative. As you will see, the executions are more like a bonanza on what the film makers are capable of. There’s this graceful fight in narrow passage, but the other side is in deep shadow. So they battle in and out, and it looks impressive, but as I said it doesn’t at all contribute to the narrative. You get that feeling because it is stretched too much that it needs to be like the chase scene in one of the towns. In editing, there is another fight scene in the same narrow passage but this time it’s in broad day light. The film fast forwards the fight, and we get those squeaky voices to provide a comedic tone, but it doesn’t really sell. I was actually annoyed in that sequence.
The film may be a good case study for some editing and cinematography elements, but as a narrative you best leave the film alone.