The Duel (2016 film)

The Duel is a 2016 American Western film directed by Kieran Darcy-Smith and written by Matt Cook. The film stars Liam Hemsworth, Emory Cohen, Woody Harrelson and Alice Braga. The film was released for limited release and video on demand on June 24, 2016, by Lionsgate Premiere.[1] It was released on DVD and Blu-Ray on August 23, 2016.

The Duel
The Duel (2016 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKieran Darcy-Smith
Produced byDavid Hoberman
Todd Lieberman
Adam Rosenfelt
Maureen Meulen
Written byMatt Cook
StarringWoody Harrelson
Liam Hemsworth
Alice Braga
Emory Cohen
Felicity Price
José Zúñiga
William Sadler
Music byCraig Eastman
CinematographyJules O'Loughlin
Edited byTracy Adams
Blake Hjares
Atomic Entertainment
Mandeville Films
Mississippix Studios
26 Films
Bron Capital Partners
Crystal Wealth
Distributed byLionsgate Premiere
Release date
  • June 24, 2016 (2016-06-24) (United States)
CountryUnited States


On the Texas border, in 1887, Texas Ranger David Kingston is sent by Governor “Sul” Ross to the isolated town of Mount Hermon. Kingston is to investigate a series of murders and disappearances of Mexican citizens, in particular to search for Maria Calderon, the missing niece of a Mexican general who is threatening to invade to find her. In the town, preacher and mayor Abraham Brant – the man who killed Kingston's father in a ”Helena Duel” knife fight in 1866 – is keeping all the townsfolk in some kind of fearful grip. When Kingston arrives in town, the townsfolk act cold and hostile towards him, with the exception of Brant, who is smitten by Kingston's wife, Marisol.

Kingston hides his identity and purpose from Brant, appearing as a wandering traveler. Brant offers him the role of town sheriff, which the newcomer hesitantly accepts, hoping the position will cover him long enough to carry out his real investigation.

While Kingston explores the town and investigates the nearby Rio Grande for bodies, Brant manipulates a weak-spirited Marisol into becoming dependent on him. Marisol becomes Brant's willing consort, and betrays her husband's secrets. Kingston eventually learns Brant's secret - that he is abducting Mexicans to serve as prey for rich foreigners to hunt.

When Kingston confronts Brant and the townspeople, Brant's son Isaac challenges Kingston to a ”Helena Duel” knife fight. During the fight, Kingston is badly wounded before he kills Isaac. Kingston escapes, and frees a number of captured Mexicans from the remote prison compound, including Maria Calderon. Suffering from his knife wounds, Kingston hits Brant in a shootout while near the isolated compound, then pins Brant's leg under a boulder. When Kingston passes out, Brant cuts his own leg off and crawls to the wounded man. As he is about to cut Kingston's throat, Maria reappears and shoots Brant dead.

Kingston dumps Brant's body in the Rio Grande near the dead scalped Mexican woman. The Mexican general is grateful to Kingston for getting Maria back. When men went back to the town and the prison, they found the town abandoned and no sign of the prison at all. Kingston is last seen riding off into the brush alone, staring up at the tree where Naomi was hanged from earlier.



On September 28, 2012, Kieran Darcy-Smith was set to direct the Helena, Texas set western film (only briefly “appears” in the final film, set instead in the fictional Mount Hermon) based on Matt Cook's 2009 Black Listed script, which David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman were announced to produce for their Mandeville Films.[2]

During 2014, a number of actors were attached to the film. On July 1, it was announced that Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson would be starring in the lead roles of David Kingston and Abraham Brant, with the film then titled By Way of Helena.[3] On August 29, Felicity Price was added to the cast.[4] On September 5, William Hurt and Alice Braga joined the cast, and WestEnd Films was attached as handling international sales.[5] (While Hurt was still reported as being in the film as late as an April 2016 article when the trailer was released online,[6] and a June 2016 review showing him as playing Governor Ross,[7] he does not actually appear – nor is he credited – in the final release.) Adam Rosenfelt and Maureen Meulen would finance the film and co-produce through their Atomic Entertainment.[5] On October 2, Emory Cohen was added to the film to play Isaac.[8] On October 9, Benedict Samuel joined the film to play Brit (renamed George in the final film, a British character) who visits the town with his father and brother to participate in the preacher's notorious manhunts.[9]

Nicholas Hoult, Joel Edgerton and Jamie Bell were once attached to star in the film in 2013.[10]


The filming began on September 15, 2014, in Greenwood, Mississippi.[5][11] The shooting mostly took place at the former Florewood State Park, which was transformed into an Old West frontier town.[12][13]

Critical responseEdit

On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, The Duel has an approval rating of 26%, based on 19 reviews, with a weighted average score of 5.17/10.[14] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 42 out of 100, based on 9 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[15]


  1. ^ Collis, Clark (April 27, 2016). "Liam Hemsworth and Woody Harrelson face off in Western The Duel -- exclusive poster and trailer". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  2. ^ Sneider, Jeff (September 28, 2012). "Kieran Darcy-Smith to helm 'Helena'". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  3. ^ Yamato, Jen (July 1, 2014). "Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson Heading For Revenge Western 'Helena'". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  4. ^ Whitehead, Donna (August 29, 2014). "Felicity Price Goes "By Way of Helena"". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c Barraclough, Leo (September 5, 2014). "Toronto: 'By Way of Helena' Casts William Hurt and Alice Braga, Gets Intl. Sales Agent". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  6. ^ Giroux, Jack (2016-04-28). "'The Duel' Trailer: Woody Harrelson and Liam Hemsworth Reunite for the Supernatural Western". SlashFilm. Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  7. ^ Henderson, Odie (2016-06-24). "The Duel Movie Review & Film Summary (2016)". Retrieved 2018-08-14.
  8. ^ Yamato, Jen (October 2, 2014). "Emory Cohen Cast In 'By Way Of Helena'". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  9. ^ Groves, Don (October 9, 2014). "Benedict Samuel cast in Western thriller". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  10. ^ Commonwealth, Thomas (July 24, 2013). "Nicholas Hoult And Joel Edgerton Go "By Way Of Helena"". The Tracking Board. Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  11. ^ Lucas, Sherry (September 22, 2014). "Harrelson sighting feeds 'Where's Woody' buzz". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  12. ^ Stole, Bryn (August 1, 2014). "Hollywood returns to Greenwood". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  13. ^ Christine (October 9, 2014). "Liam Hemsworth begins filming 'By Way of Helena' in Mississippi". Retrieved October 10, 2014.
  14. ^ "The Duel (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved May 21, 2020.
  15. ^ "The Duel Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved December 2, 2016.

External linksEdit