The storyline is just an excuse for Ching to reinvent wuxia in cinema, incorporating western techniques and his own innovations. Acrobatic combats with ninjas and opponents in kites are a pure treat. The final battle along a seaside cliff has long become a classic.
Once every ten years, a Japanese/Chinese martial arts duel takes place – only this time, the two young finalists find themselves embroiled in dark conspiracies to rig the fight. This simple Gu Long-style storyline is merely an excuse for director Ching to bring the flamboyant action choreography of his wuxia television successes to the big screen. Using his characteristically inventive filming techniques (including metric montages, collision editing and wires suspending actors high in the air for the shooting of flying and leaping sequences), Ching makes even feats of superhuman ability and gravity-defying stunts seem utterly believable. The ninjas fly high into the air, plunge deep underground and ride kites through the sky, concluding with a final battle along the edge of a teetering seaside cliff – a scene soon hailed as a wuxia classic. The brilliance of the scene lies in its daring action and desolate atmosphere, conveying a pervading sense of regret rarely seen either before or since. –Rotterdam
Ching Siu-tung (born 1953), also known as Tony Ching, is a Hong Kong action choreographer, actor, film director and producer, who has directed over 20 films, including the critically acclaimed supernatural fantasy A Chinese Ghost Story (1987).
Ching began as an actor and martial arts instructor working in Hong Kong action cinema in the 1960s and 1970s (his father, Ching Gong, was a Shaw Brothers Studio director, and Ching Siu-tung had been trained in Peking opera as a child), but he made his directorial debut in 1982 with the ground-breaking wuxia classic Duel to the Death.
Ching worked with producer Tsui Hark on 1987’s A Chinese Ghost Story, which became an international sensation, although it was usually Tsui Hark who took most of the plaudits. He continued to work with Tsui Hark, directing sequels to that film in 1990 and 1991, and co-directing all three parts of the Swordsman series, starting in 1990. Other directorial highlights included the highly successful Royal… read more
Of Steel, Water, Fog and Air: The Final Fight in “Duel to the Death”