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26 out of 30 people found the following review useful:

An ambitious but flawed film that is average at best.

Author: mjmegelsh from United States
3 July 2016

Regrettably, the great genre of film that is the Western struggles mightily in our present time. Most Westerns are now low-budget, like The Duel, but that does not mean that it should be written off (I was pleasantly surprised that the recent release Forsaken was a decent Western). There are some positives in this film, yet negatives are rampant and I will note the primary ones.

This film features a decent cast and an interesting story which involves an investigation surrounding missing people and an occult leader that has come to control the hearts and minds of the people of a small Texas town. However, besides a respectable performance by Liam Hemsworth, the cast is mediocre and forgettable with Woody Harrleson topping the list as being a cliché villain with forgettable, pretentious faux-intellectual dialogue.

The action is average at best, and above all else there is a feeling that the writers or producers wanted to inject their opinion regarding the current treatment of Mexicans (something a reviewer on Roger Ebert's website noted) into a script already bogged down with murder, missing persons, revenge, a husband-wife relationship, a mysterious town, and a religious occult leader. It is subtle. However, it seemed out of place and unnecessary but that does not stop Hollywood from forcing a narrative or agenda into a movie, does it?

Overall, this is a movie that had promise, but sub-par acting and a feeling that it did not know which plot point should receive the most attention weakened the film as a whole. If you like Westerns, you may find it more alluring because of the genre. Nevertheless, it is a one time watch that struggles and does not contribute anything of great worth.

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27 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

A Total Waste of Time

Author: johnwiltshireauthor from New Zealand
17 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I sat through to the end. It deserves two stars for that. But what a muddle of a movie. Some of the ideas were good--mysterious town, Texas ranger sent undercover to investigate. Weird religious guy and slightly spooky people all clearly under his spell. That was all reasonably done. But... where do I start with the rest? You know a movie is going to go seriously downhill when it's clearly promoting an agenda from the get-go. Wives in the late nineteenth century didn't go about with their hair cascading down their backs. Sure, the actress might have liked the look, but it's jarring. Then when asked if she's religious, she replies, "I'm spiritual?" Huh? So anachronistic that I almost stopped watching there and then, but I stuck with it. Then she forces her Texas ranger husband to take her on his undercover mission. Huh? (Again) Maybe next movie they make we'll have a Navy Seal taking his wife with him on a mission. Why not? A woman must be just as capable as a guy who's fought his whole life on the border, been in the Indian wars, as well as the war with Mexico and is now a trained Texas ranger. But it's all cool. Let's not forget the agenda...Of course he'd take her. So, they get to the spooky town and for no reason whatsoever she turns against the husband and takes up with the old, weird, bald religious guy. I'd have gone off him the moment he handed me a snake (yes, snake handlers in Texas), but hey, what do I know? At the end she appears to be sucked into a sort of house for the black-clad widows. Hey, I'd given up trying to understand this mess of a movie by then. There were one or two bits that kept me watching -- some great vigilante moments; people getting shot in the face, that kind of thing. And thank God for tiny, half-dressed girls. One saved the hero's life at the end. Sheesh. They don't make Westerns like they used to, do they? Oh, wait, they do. The Salvation: a Western as they should be made. Go watch, then weep for this utter garbage.

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13 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

Good acting, decent camera-work, abysmal script.

Author: Andrej Holm from Sweden
24 June 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Acting's as fine as you can except it from someone with talent just phoning it in for another paycheck.

The script is a piece of sh*t.

The plot's thin, shaky character motivations established by shitty exposition, nothing is really resolved (or for that matter, even interesting). Turns out the villain's kinda vilanious. Turns out the hero's just the sort of meathead you'd root for. At the end, a lot more people are dead, but really, none of them seemed to have any redeeming qualities at all. Also, the terrible deus ex machina at the end really ruins it all.

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14 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

I want to like this movie but can't

Author: holybagpipes-6-153560
1 July 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Top Five Positives: 1.) Story moves like a Louis L'Amour western novel - fast & hard. 2.) Actors do a fine performance. Nice job Kerry Cahill. 3.) Scenery, costumes, and props seem authentic. 4.) If you're into blood count, there's enough to slake your thirst. 5.) Interesting timing of release with political tensions around Mexican immigrants.

Top Negatives: 1.) Woody can't act. His character is the same in every movie/show since Cheers. 2.) Hey! It's Jim from the Office, what's he doing here? 3.) Wait. Is this the short story "The Most Dangerous Game"? 4.) Snake handler church were in Appalachia not Texas. 5.) There's no compelling reason for Marisol to leave her husband. Likewise, there are several scenes that show Kingston's passionate love for his wife but he leaves her behind. Incongruity. 6.) Double tap all zombies. Who doesn't finish off a villain? - Dumb movie characters, that's who. Don't worry though, a surprise "cavalry" saves the day. Who sits next to a villain and falls asleep? Step back a few yards, Son. 7.) The protagonist, Kingston, is a confused little boy. He says, "I'm not here for my dad, I'm a Texas Ranger" but at the end, he goes off into the woods as a sort of lost soul and doesn't return to report in at the Ranger's office. I get Rambo going off into the jungle b/c he's disillusioned with the government. What is this poor protagonist wrestling with in his head that he'd leave the and love of his life and job after winning the battle? The weight of Kingston's soul doesn't add up with the story.

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17 out of 29 people found the following review useful:

Pretty boss Western!

Author: subxerogravity from United States
30 June 2016

I think most people would have expected more form a movie starring Woody Harrison and Liam Hemsworth,both who were in The Hunger Games together, but it was a pretty plain, low budget kind of thing that happen to have a really good story to it.

Hemsworth plays a Texas Ranger who is sent after a man killing Mexicans in a small town he runs, and just by coincidence, this same man killed his father 20 years ago in a strange ritual of code of honor from the town they are from. Making matters worse is the fact that this Texas Ranger brings with him his Mexican Wife just because she complained about having nothing to do around the house while he's gone, and she ends up being put under the religious spell this man has got on some of the townsfolk.

Hemsworth plays a decent cowboy. Not as dashing as his older brother, Chris as he goes for more of the Clint Eastwood type. Woody Harrison is a good villain in the film. It's similar to his work in the film, Out of the Furnace.

But I really like the grim story that the Western told about the treatment of the Mexicans after the borderline for Texas was created.

Overall it was a brilliant western that had no frills just a great story with some good actors telling the tale

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5 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Not a Western!

Author: rjacome24 from United States
23 October 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is the biggest let down of a Western film, it isn't even a Western movie, more of a philosophical boring movie with drama and politics. At best it could be considered a suspense movie with a weird plot that takes way too long, it is boring the entire movie. A Texas ranger is given the task of investigating murders of Mexican immigrants that happen near the Mexico border in a certain Texas town. His wife forces him to take her with him rather than be left home, and so he does because apparently a Texas ranger has to take his wife with him on every job in the 1800s. It gets much worse from there with nothing but a boring story without any western action whatsoever, nothing but continuous drama and only the slightest bit of suspense. The plot also depicts an psychotic evil man who apparently is some sort of "Christian" priest who ironically encourages people to brutally kill others as well as sleep with prostitutes. But the brave Hero is shown to be a good moral atheist. Lmao More politics in Movies. There was no need for anyone's religion to be depicted in this movie, just more political agendas and an incredibly boring plot.

Please don't waste your money and more important don't waste your time on this awkward movie.

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6 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Harrelson and Hemsworth Are Both Excellent in Psycho-Western

Author: lavatch from Twin Cities, Minnesota
23 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

On the surface, "The Duel" is a classical western in the style of "High Noon." But the main interest in not the traditional melodrama of hero and villain. Rather, it is a subtle psychological drama that explores deeper personal values in the two leading characters.

Woody Harrelson is good as a character known as "The Preacher." He is a megalomaniac who has exerted his charisma and total control over a small town in Texas in the post-Civil War years. The traditional "stranger" who rides into town is a Texas Ranger, and the role is given a fine, understated performance by Liam Hemsworth.

The twist on this familiar plot is that the Texas Ranger is on a secret mission to spy on The Preacher, who has been wantonly killing Mexicans who have crossed over the border. But Hemsworth's character David has a second interest in The Preacher, who killed his father two decades earlier.

The film is effective in offering some depth to David's motives. Is he a dedicated Texas Ranger performing his job, or is his true motivation to revenge his father's death? The film never completely answers that question, but leaves it to the viewer to decide.

But there are other loose ends in the film that are both unresolved and confusing. The depiction of David's marriage to his wife Marisol is never fully developed in the film. Marisol was wedded to David without her consent when her father's life was saved by David. At the beginning, it appears as though they have a happy marriage. But the transformation of Marisol, who is won over to the side of The Preacher, seemed strained and unconvincing. And the film never even bothered to wrap up the narrative by informing the audience of what happened to Marisol!

Obviously, "The Duel" is not a perfect film. The historical backdrop of the development of Texas in the mid-nineteenth century was also superficial. It was almost as if the film could have been set in any historical period with a different set of costumes. Still, it is worth seeing for the excellent work in cinematography and the two fine performances of Harrelson and Hemsworth.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

The Most Dangerous Game as a business

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
2 October 2016

A number of citizens of Mexican origins are disappearing and the bodies, some of them, have been found floating in the Rio Grande. A Mexican general played by Jose Zuniga is threatening to do a Pancho Villa and cross the border as his niece is one of the missing. That prompts the Governor of Texas to dispatch one of his best Texas Rangers, Liam Hemsworth to a remote region to investigate a town called Helena.

A former Confederate colonel Woody Harrelson is a Reverend Jim Jones like character who holds sway there. Hemsworth has his work cut out for them, more than he could ever conceive.

There are certainly elements of The Most Dangerous Game here, but add to that the cult like devotion that Harrelson enjoys. Plus he's making good money for himself and the town of Helena with his most dangerous game. He's opened it up as a business, it's clear that the Mexicans are substitutes for black people as I'm sure the word is out to avoid the area and Mexicans are plentiful across the river.

None of the drama in that original Most Dangerous Game is present here. Harrelson is a compelling figure, Australian Hemsworth is convincing as a Texan.

The whole thing falls way short of a classic and even as a western, most western fans will find this way to weird.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A not for everyone Western

Author: Bob Rutzel from United States
29 August 2016

Texas Ranger David Kingston (Helmsworth) is sent undercover to a Texas town to investigate why Mexicans are turning up dead.

What you will see: Marisol (Alice Braga), David's wife, insisting she go with David on his undercover mission, bloody hand-to-hand fighting, a variation of The Most Dangerous Game, a town under the grip of Cult Leader Abraham (Harrelson), an unexplained betrayal, a prayer meeting where snakes are handled by everyone, and pure racism.

I was overjoyed at the prospect of seeing another western, but I didn't expect the cruelty. This has to do with a variation of The Most Dangerous Game and you will be as shocked as I was. I am always surprised at some of the really sick things people do to others. There seems to be a tendency for Hollywood to go beyond normal good guy- bad guy plots and this is what we get.

The acting all around is very good, but we didn't expect the script to center around a variation of The Most Dangerous Game. This is where a good western turns into something not so good. And the unexpected betrayal seemed well out of place. (Aren't betrayals always unexpected?)

Notables: William Sadler as Governor Ross; Emory Cohen as Isaac, Abraham's brother; Raphael Sbarge as Dr. Morris; and Sue-Lynn Ansari as the Saloon Woman.

Sad to say, but this is a not for everyone Western. (5/10)

Violence: Yes. Sex: No. Nudity: No. Language: Yes, some not too often.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

Heart of Darkness

Author: Stephen Kaufer from South Florida
14 August 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a short review because it is a simple adaptation. Like Outland was High Noon in space, The Duel is Apocalypse Now in the old West.

I will admit that I am a big fan of Woody Harrelson. As usual, he does not disappoint.

The rest of the cast is passable. There are faces here and there that you will recognize, but otherwise it seems the money on this movie was spent on Harrelson and Hemsworth. Honestly, I cannot tell if the writing is not particularly engrossing or if it seems uninspired because we know the story.

Either way, if you want a fast paced Western, this is not for you. If you want a slow, methodical and unnecessarily convoluted story featuring a good might like it.

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