The Duelist (Duelyant) (2016)


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A professional duelist 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. 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.

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Petr Fedorov
as Yakovlev
Petr Fedorov
as Yakovlev
Vladimir Mashkov
as Count Beklemishev
Martin Wuttke
as Nemetskiy
Yuliya Khlynina
as Princess Martha
Franziska Petri
as Aleksandra Iosifovna
Vadim Pavlenko
as Mordvinov
Aleksandr Mizev
as Ofitser-tyuremshchik
Pavel Tabakov
as Knyaz Tuchkov
Alexander Yatsenko
as Yakovlev mladshiy
Sergey Garmash
as Odnorukiy dvoryanin
Pyotr Chubko
as Sluga duelyanta
Pierre Bourel
as Knyaz Rayn
Nikolay Butenin
as Beglyy kartorzhnik
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Critic Reviews for The Duelist (Duelyant)

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (10)

A welcome indication of the current Russian cinema's commercial ambitions and potential.

Dec 2, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

The clichéd story line pursues turgidity with a relentless determination.

Dec 1, 2016 | Full Review…

Dazzles and provokes as it makes little real sense beyond the confines of its hermetic milieu.

Dec 1, 2016 | Full Review…

The look of the movie is still the most appealing thing about it. Whether you watch a film on a giant screen or an iPhone, the format doesn't untangle messy plot threads.

Dec 1, 2016 | Rating: 2.5/5 | Full Review…

Most fans of costume drama don't head to the movies expecting explosive exit wounds, and few action fans are going to be wowed by ostentatious lapels.

Dec 1, 2016 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

A tiresome but meticulously detailed and visually sumptuous Russian melodrama about romance and intrigue amid the nobility in 19th century St. Petersburg.

Nov 30, 2016 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

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