If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I just finished watching 'Mongol', by Sergei Bodrov. The movie is basically the origin story of one of history's greatest conquerors, Genghis Khan. The movie covers the story of how he came to conquer Mongolia, and the many struggles he faced along the way. Therein, we see the hardship faced by young Temudgin (Genghis' name before he became Khan), as he and his family face treachery, he is hunted down, and as he faces his mortal enemy and equal in battle, Jamukha.
The film opens in a rainy border town, where Temudgin is being kept as a slave, locked up in a cell. From here, he begins to tell us his great story, beginning with Temudgin (Odnyam Odsuren) at age 9 about to choose his wife, Borte. Against etiquette and the hopes of his father, young Temudgin chooses a Merkit wife, the Merkit being a people who his father was previously at war with. This offends them, and they will not forget it. On the way back home, Temudgin's father is brutally murdered by an enemy clan, and chaos ensues from there. His family is abandoned, he is made a fugitive by the treacherous Targutai (Amadu Mamadakov), his wife is captured, and he encounters his adversary, Jamukha (Honglei Sun).
One of the first things you realize in the film is the magnificence of the cinematography, as director and writer Sergei Bodrov has obviously hit the needle on the head with the filming locations. The camera angles, too, are just right for the sweeping landscapes of the movie. From the emotional scenes with Temudgin and Borte, to the bloodthirsty battle scenes in which the might of the Mongol horde is showcased, all the gripping action and emotion is filmed extremely well. And for only a $20,000,000 budget, the movie looks and is filmed better than many a big-budget blockbuster.
Also to rival many blockbusters, is the excellent acting in the movie. Tadanobu Asano nails the adult Temudgin to a tee, and the same can be said for all the supporting cast. Rivalling Asano's performance as the legendary conqueror is that of Honglei Sun's as his brother-turned-adversary, Jamukha. From the jovial brother of Temudgin, to the dark, brooding enemy of him. From the romantic scenes of Temudgin and his wife, to the complex scenes of him and his adversaries, and to the scenes of the Khan and his family, all the acting by the supporting cast and Asano is exemplary.
Mirroring the high standard of acting is also the costume design, and effects. The crew of the film obviously worked hard to keep a high standard of realism within the movie, as the costumes of the Mongols, and people such as Chinese merchants and soldiers, are fantastic. Also, the viewer isn't taken out of the sense of harshness and realism in the battle scenes by streams of CG blood. Unlike many epics these days, cartoonish CG blood wisely isn't used, resulting in the bloody scenes of battle looking brilliantly harsh and fierce, bloody and violent in just the right amount- not bogged down by CG blood or out-of-place slo-mo scenes.
Finally, the flaws of the film. The one flaw I found really in the film is the relatively slow pacing of the movie, which I didn't find as too big of an issue, but some viewers probably won't like that aspect of the film more than others. As a result of the slow pacing, there aren't too many kickass battle scenes. In my opinion, it doesn't really need any more action than it has. But, I'd advise not to go in expecting to see a gory, fast-paced epic with a tonne of cool battle scenes. While it does have cool battle scenes, they are few and far between as it just isn't that kind of movie. Overall, though, this is a great foreign film that is definitely worth seeing. I rate it a solid Full Price.
-This is my first review so if you've read this thanks for reading, and any constructive criticism would be welcome.