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When their ships are locked in mortal combat in outer space, Blake
(Gareth Thomas) & Travis (Stephen Greif) are suddenly teleported
from their repsective Ships' bridges to the planet the orbit of which
they use as battlefield. There they meet Giroc (Patsy Smart) &
Sinofar (Isla Blair), 2 survivors with supernatural powers of a
non-extinct race - a race extinct by a war fought with weapons more
powerful than Blake or travis have ever seen.
Giroc & Sinofar
want to teach Blake & Travis a thing or 2 about the futility of war
by pit them one against the other in a mortal man-on-man combat, without
any fancy weapons, & by having them experience the death of a friend
in the context - so blake gets Jenna (Sally Knyvette) as his companion,
Travis his Mutoid (Carol Royle), an emotionless, vampiric half-human
machine built to serve the humans.
& despite the ruthlessness of
both Travis & his companion soon puts them in the lead, in the end
Blake & Jenna win the battle thanks to their compassion - &
Blake even refuses to kill his opponent, out of fear he might enjoy it
& thus be no better than him - he has learned his lesson. Travis on
the other hand has learned nothing & doesn't waste a second to mourn
the death of his Mutoid, promising Blake deadly revenge - he is banned
forever from the planet (which might be just as well, as he didn't have
any intentions to either stay or return).
Ba the way, even the Mutoid
is alive again in the end.
Reminiscent of the Star Trek
episode The Savage Curtain (1969), Duel does however take
a more subtle approach to the main concept (all-powerful aliens forcing
humans into mortal man-on-man combat), as here the aliens actually want
to show their human captives the futility of war (while in Star
Trek they merely wanted to determine who would win in a battle
of Good [a gang that included of course Kirk, Spock & Abraham
Lincoln] & evile [among others Genghis Khan]).
However, don't get
your hopes too high fopr this being the most thoughtful sci-fi story you
have ever seen, as the result is exactly what one might have expected in
the first place, including Blake not being able to kill his mortal
enemy, and Travis learning nothing from his experience. Furthermore it
seems this profound battle has no repercussions whatsoever on the
characters' furhter development or the series, so what one might have
learned in the end is more like it's futile to learn about the
futility of war.
That cast aside, as a pure entertainment-story, Duel
is not half-bad.