Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel play officers in Napoleon's army – D'Hubert and Feraud, respectively – who spend their off-hours challenging each other to bloody duels. This goes on for nearly 16 years, with neither man showing any inclination of calling a truce. The final clash finds the gentlemanly D'Hubert getting the upper hand of the obsessed Feraud – but that's not quite the end of the story.
- " The richness of Scott's visuals, the excellence of the performances and the depth of the themes combine to make a minor masterpiece. " – David Hughes (Empire Magazine)
- " … one of the most strikingly pictorial movies ever made. " – Richard T. Jameson (Parallax View)
- " It is precise, intelligent, civilized, and because it never for a moment mistakes its narrative purpose. " – Vincent Canby (New York Times)