Duelist (2005)

Your Rating:
Ratings: 7.7/10 from 1,205 users
Reviews: 11 users

In the late Chosun dynasty, counterfeits were circulating around. Detective Ahn of Left Security Station and a passionate newcomer, Nam-sun try to trace the source of the counterfeiting. They chase the Secretary of National Security and his man 'Sad Eye' as suspects. A predestined battle between the best woman detective in Chosun, Nam-sun, and a mysterious assassin 'Sad Eye' is unfolded. A magnificent, chivalric film that showcases Lee's style.

  • Native title:

  • Also Known as:


Add Cast Show More Cast (13)Cast

View allNews & Articles

Charismatic Killers in Korean Dramas and Films; Part 6
Are we, really, all the same? Are we all killers?
Stalker's Guide to Kang Dong Won
My third article about my favourite Korean movie star Kang Dong Won!

Write a Review More Reviews (9) Reviews

27 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
May 14, 2012
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 8.0
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 8.0
1) The reason I watched this:

I don't usually watch korean historical film, this was one of the exceptions since I had its DVD in one of my collections for a long time because I thought it was a historical-Wuxia Chinese film but when I found its synopsis and main actors in MDL, I decided to watch it right away even though it's Korean.

2) Storyline/Plot:

Do you love stories that would read more make you feel like you're watching a piece of art? This is it!!

Positive points:

*To start with, action films mixed with romance are one of the favorite genres that I like to watch and this film was just the type.
*Love through fighting was a brilliant idea that made this film's story so captivating because usually the leads are on the same side.
*The fighting scenes were nicely done; grafic effects and cinematography would make you feel like you're watching a piece of art being painted.
*The historical concept gave this film its great concept, it wouldn't be this great if it was in another era.

Negative points:

*The general presentation period didn't tell much therefore we don't get to know a lot about the leads (specially the lead male).
*The romantic story could've went a lot deeper; we haven't seen a lot on that side but that doesn't mean it was bad.

Story: 8/10

3) Acting/Cast:

*Kang Dong Won: I just love this actor because he always have unusual roles, here he was amazingly different. I usually love it when the lead male is mysterious, handsome, martial arts expert, full of karisma and I found all of that in "sad eyes" character; it was a perfectly portrayed character although he may sound very silent but he managed to deliver a lot of emotions: *Claps* I really loved him here.

*Ha Ji Won : In every drama/film, she can portray any character in a good way, here it wasn't any different; she was cool with her foolishness and manly behavior, she was the kind of strong/independent female lead plus she delivered great emotions. However, Kang Dong Won amazed me more.
*I just loved the chemistry between the leads because every scene they had together was interesting to watch; they were so cool especially in fighting scenes.
*I was right for watching it because of the lead actors: they did a great job.
*The general acting was cool and the supporting roles were acceptable.

Cast: 9.5/10
Acting: 10/10

4) The ending:

*Some people may not understand it, I would love to explain it but I would spoil it for those who haven't seen the film yet.
*Anyway, it was a great ending plus it was really logical for this type of film.

The ending: 9/10

5) My impression (How did it affect me):

*I didn't get my eyes off the screen the whole time, it was really interesting to watch. I am still wondering why I haven't seen it before.
*I was really entertained; i laughed, I was excited because of the fighting scenes, I was moved by the sad emotions somehow (I don't usually get moved by any sort of sadness so this is rare).

My impression: 9.5/10

6) Overall:

*If you like action films mixed with romance then this is for you but don't expect a lot on the romantic side.
*If you like mysterious male lead/strong female lead then this is for you.
*If you like martial arts film that's full of cinematography then this is for you.

Overall: 9/10.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No
20 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Jul 17, 2011
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 10
  • Rewatch Value 9.0
In a word: beautiful.

Duelist is a painting in motion, where a lot is hinted and nothing is explained.

Some may lament the lack of a true plot, but on my part I believe a movie has different means of portraying a story than a book or a drama. It's based upon images, not necessarily on twists and events. Just like poetry is based upon the evocative power read more of words, not on facts.

And the direction used the cinematographic tools to its full potential in this movie.

I watched it with my mouth open. Beautiful screenplay, beautiful dance-like fights, beautiful just-hinted erotism.

Yes, the plot can be reduced to a 10 minutes narration. But so are a lot of theatre pieces, played upon style, movement, colour and photography.

Acting is wonderful, and so is the music. This is a ballet, after all.

Rewatch value is obviously high: I'll go back to it whenever I want to just sit and admire a beautiful, colour filled painting.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Make a Recommendation More recs (1)Recommendations

Ha ji won in another BA role. These are both action movies that are interesting.
Recommended by cjangel
Both are a pleasure to watch; they have amazing fighting scenes and great atmosphere.
Recommended by kangoor

Create topic See AllRecent Discussions new!

Be the first to create a discussion for Duelist

Comments (23)

  • Login or Register to post comments
  • Reply
    joannesmith Jul 19, 2017
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    Panda May 5, 2017

    Is it me or the movie has random slow motion and cut scenes ?
    Anyway it was fun and the acting was so good ♡

  • Reply
    Maryama Feb 10, 2017

    i wich i could find movies like this!!

  • Reply
    Mintare May 15, 2016

    fighting-dancing-making love <3 just beautiful

  • Reply
    displacedmoon Oct 2, 2015 - edited

    Wow. Just wow. Truly a beautiful movie to watch. Don't think I've ever seen anything like it. Like another viewer stated, it has an anime/manga quality to it.

  • Reply
    YangSooAh Jul 20, 2015

    Duelist (Hyeongsa) is the best Korean movie, well the best movie in the whole world, to me. Beautiful. Mysterious. Incredible. Sad. I'd describe it easily in one word - art. All the fighting scenes were so beautifully made, not like violence but more like dancing. It's truly a jewel in Korean filmography. Kang Dong Won and Ha Ji Won did a brilliant job. Also my heart was never bleeding for someone so long like in Sad Eyes' case. ♥ I love it with all my heart!

  • Reply
    fallensnowflakes Jul 10, 2015 - edited

    Although the slow motion scenes almost killed me for being too slow, I like this movie. I might even love it someday if I keep watching it. In my opinion, the movie feels like an anime.

  • Reply
    Almonda Mar 28, 2015 - edited

    I can´t get enough of this movie. There is not a lof of story, but this movie doesn´t need it. The cinography, the edting, the acting, the music...the arteful way this movie is presented is more than enough...It gets never boring and every time I watch it, I notice something new..Ha Ji Woon and Kang Dong Won have amazing chemistry...I would love to see them both together in another movie again.

    • Reply
      Dana1004 Mar 28, 2015

      Why won't they make sequel or drama out of this T.T I love it sooo much

  • Reply
    Zemodip Feb 7, 2015


  • Reply
    MrGu Dec 1, 2014 - edited

    A movie to watch, again and again and again.

    • Reply
      Dana1004 Mar 31, 2015

      Muhahahaha i watched it with mom and we are both addicted to it! Lol she is even here on MyDramaList XDDD

    • Reply
      rainecat May 16, 2015

      It's one of those movies that sets my heart on fire. Sad that it can't be appreciated by all because I very much want to share it with everyone. I don't buy movies but I bought a Blu-ray player just for this movie. I think it's also deserving of a large screen and a awesome sound system.

      There is a incredible review on it by a blogger named Thundie and another one on the site Twitch written by X.

    • Reply
      Dana1004 May 16, 2015

      Let's all sit in a cozy living room and snuggle in blankets while watching this piece of art <333333333

    • Reply
      rainecat May 17, 2015

      That would be awesome if it could happen. I need friends to enjoy it with.

    • Reply
      Dana1004 May 17, 2015

      AND squeal over our long black haired handsome man? <33333
      Give me invitation i bring over popcorn and chips <3333

  • Reply
    Chrisstina Aug 29, 2014

    Pure art! One of the best movies I've ever seen! Ha Ji Won and Kang Dong Wook had a great chemistry! And those fighting scenes!

  • Reply
    Mary28 May 3, 2014

    That was the sexiest fighting I have ever seen. Haji won and kangaroo dong won were debak, sexyass chemistry.

  • Reply
    DahliaX Feb 2, 2014

    Ha Ji Won and Kang Dong Won have done an amazing job in this one! The fighting scenes were beautiful; it was like watching art in motion.

  • Reply
    ithinkisawlove Jan 16, 2014

    I have found you my love the FIRST asian drama i've ever watched.... I knew i had a fuzzy feeling about you Kang DongWon, you made me into a fangirls first

  • Reply
    rainecat Dec 9, 2013 - edited

    The Duelist is a piece of art. A masterpiece that uses color, motion, expression (facial and body), dance and music to tell a story. Short on dialogue, the few words spoken are only what's necessary. It requires a deep imagination. It requires you to ponder. It requires you to read into every piece of emotion. But the beauty of it all is that you learn something new with each viewing. It's the movie that changed how I watched movies.

    BTW, don't watch it as an action movie. Really, it's more of a love story between 2 people of opposite sides.


  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Release Date:

    Sep 8, 2005
  • Duration:

    1 hr. 51 min.


  • Score:

    7.7 (scored by 1,205 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


Recently Watched By