“The Duel” is a western set just after the Civil War and the Mexican American War. Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth star in this gritty drama, which is now available for home viewing on Blu-ray and DVD.
The story revolves around David Kingston (Hemsworth) who, as a child, witnessed a “Helena Duel” in which his father was killed by a man named Abraham (Harrelson). A “Helena Duel” is when two men are tied together and each one has a knife. They stab each other until one of them dies.
Fast forward 22 years and Kingston is a Texas Ranger sent out on an assignment to find the person or people responsible for killing Mexicans and capturing the niece of a Mexican General. Kingston and his wife Marisol (Alice Braga) set out together on this mission.
What they find when they get to a small town on their search is horrifying. The town is under the control of an alluring preacher -- Abraham. Though this is the man that killed his father, Kingston isn’t there for revenge: he is there as a Ranger doing his job.
Kingston quickly surmises that the town is hiding a secret. This cult-like community is under the mind control of Abraham who doesn’t keep dissenters. If anyone wants to leave, they do so – dead.
After offering the job of sheriff to Kingston, Abraham sets his sights on Marisol. He’s a creepy man, yet charismatic, and the only one who sees through him is Kingston. As the new sheriff he is able to roam around freely to dig up the dirt on the secrets hidden within this strange place, and what he uncovers is horrific.
The movie is slow moving but well-acted. The story of the town brings up shades of Jonestown. With the charismatic leader brainwashing the people, he basically can do anything he wants to do. What is a disturbing aspect is the way in which the town makes money – through hunting. But what are they hunting?
Hemsworth is a favorite actor among younger viewers and has been nominated for and won several Teen Choice Awards. Harrelson, on the other hand, has been nominated for two Academy Awards. He won an Emmy for his role in the hit sitcom “Cheers,” and is an actor viewers like to see in a variety of roles. Along those lines, in this film they are able to appreciate him as an actor but detest him as Abraham.
“The Duel” is rated R and is available on Blu-ray (with Digital HD) and DVD (with Digital) now.