Alexey MizgirevRussia110 minutes2016ColourRussian German
A professional duellist in 19th-century Russia has second thoughts about his profession when he meets the beautiful sister of a future opponent, in this handsome historical epic spectacularly shot in IMAX.
Shot in IMAX, this deceptively glossy production is also a highly proficient and effective epic set in 19th-century Czarist Russia. It focuses on a handsome, ruthless protagonist who is a professional duellist at a time when the nobility settled disputes and slights against honour by taking up swords or pistols against each other in highly regulated rituals. There was a strict code of behavior applied to the practice of duelling; one rule was that a substitute was allowed, another was that nobles would fight only fellow nobles. Both conditions are central to this film's narrative.
Returning to Saint Petersburg after a long exile, the dashing Yakovlev, a retired army officer, makes a comfortable living by winning other people's duels. An enigmatic, focused, and extremely skilled professional, he leaves a trail of dead bodies behind him as he swirls through polite society, frequently called upon to wield a pistol as a surrogate in duels at dawn. But when Yakovlev meets the naïve young Prince Tuchov and his beautiful sister, Princess Martha, the normally cold-hearted mercenary is surprised by hitherto undetected emotions. What transpires uncovers a series of revelations about his past and his present self.
Employing a cast whose credits include films such as Stalingrad, Inglourious Basterds, Game of Thrones, and Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, director Alexey Mizgirev relishes in the twists and turns of a story where the surprises come thick and fast. Featuring exceptional art direction, costume design, and cinematography, The Duelist delivers an engrossing story set against both the glittery high society of aristocratic Russia and a shadowy netherworld of ambition.