Duelyant or Duelist is a historical thriller action set in the 19th century, and there the law says that a nobleman, if his honor is injured, has the right to challenge another nobleman to a duel and thus protect his honor. Of course, such a law gave many an opportunity to get rid of their opponents, debts and what not, in a way that would provoke a duel, and then solve the problem they have. Our story follows Mr. Yakovlev (Pyotr Fyodorov), a man who constantly enters into duels, which are previously provoked and never, but never loses. When, after five successful matches, he realizes that he is part of a great game, things will change. However, what further complicates the story is the very history and whether he is the one for whom he presents himself…
When I gather all the impressions about Duelist, I can’t help but get the impression that he could have been a phenomenal cinema hit with a slightly better elaborated script. If it was a little more dynamic, with more action and race, it would be a real historical action. If it was a little more tuned, it would be a great historical drama. However, if it were all that, then it would not be what it is, and it is a very good film with its own personal trait.
What immediately captivates you is the photography and scenography itself, which together fully evoke that time period. Costume design and numerous extras only add to that feeling and the quality of production that many would envy. The work of the camera is unusual, as are the perspectives of the shooting, all in the service of the film and some adrenaline-fueled tensions around the scenes that are changing. What gives a special touch to all this is the hundreds of weapons used during the film and the fact that their actions are extremely realistic and brutal. The effects are at the highest level, so, as far as that is concerned, the film is maximally technically weighted and without flaws.
The cast did a great job. As is the case with Serbian film, so the Russians are dominated by character actors, which gives you characteristic characters that exactly suit the plot and the time in which it takes place. Just because you get emotionally involved with positive and negative feelings towards certain actors shows that they did a good job.
What I mentioned before is the script. For many, it may be a little confusing, torn, that is. without that American fluid where everything is explained or drawn so that the average viewer would not have to put too much effort into connecting scenes. This one is different though, it’s not all up to you, something flies by and you just have to fit in.
Duelyant is definitely worth your time because you will get a technically flawless film, an action thriller with a historical twist and an unusual but very interesting story. With a slightly more refined script, it could have gone a step higher, but it also deserves to be on your movie menu and to consume something prepared in the Russian way.