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Overall Rating
3

Awesome: 5.88%
Worth A Look41.18%
Just Average: 5.88%
Pretty Crappy41.18%
Sucks: 5.88%

2 reviews, 5 user ratings


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Mongol
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by Lybarger

"If only John Wayne had lived long enough to see this…"
4 stars

Genghis Khan’s 13th century conquest of Asia and the Middle East is familiar to anyone who’s cracked open a history book, or at least slept through a lecture or two. What isn’t as well known is what kind of person would covet and could control that much territory and how he was able to convince legions of people to do his bidding.

Oscar-nominated director Sergei Bodrov (“Prisoner of the Mountains”) hails from Russia, where Khan’s troops once plundered. So it’s intriguing that he and co-screenwriter Arif Aliyev have managed to create “Mongol,” an effectively nuanced portrait of the warlord. If Khan were merely a thug with a sword, it’s doubtful he would have accomplished so much.

Bodrov has obviously dug through a variety of sources and come up with a relatively accurate but still compelling version of Khan’s life. Before he was a face in an encyclopedia, he was born Temüjin Khan to a Mongol tribal leader (Ba Sen).

Instead of inheriting his father’s mantle after the leader’s untimely death, young Temüjin (Odnyam Odsuren) is forced into hiding because Targutai (Amadu Mamadakov), a rival of his father wants the throne for himself and is barely above killing nine-year-old Temüjin to get it.

When he becomes an adult, Temüjin (now played by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, Takeshi Kitano’s “Zatoichi”) is understandably wary of forming too many close attachments.

But he’s still formed a strong alliance with a warlord named Jamukha (the charismatic Chinese actor Honglei Sun, “The Road Home”) and has finally married Borte (Khulan Chuluun, a novice Mongolian actress in an auspicious debut), the feisty woman he promised to marry when he was a child.

Believe it or not, the love story is actually one of the strengths of the film. Temüjin’s loyalty to Borte is so intense that he takes a major raid to save her when another tribe abducts her. His affection is so strong that he even raises the child she had with her captors as his own. Needless to say, she returns his feelings and keeps him motivated when he and Jamukha have a violent falling out.

With all the betrayals and indignities he suffers, Temüjin is an understandably violent and vindictive fellow. But he can ingeniously escape capture and can defeat larger armies by simply out-thinking them.

He also inspires intensely loyalty from his subordinates, because he’s more willing to share his spoils than other warlords. Simply by not being excessively greedy, he gradually recruits enough warriors to attain the title for which he’s known today.

If reading subtitles or trying to understand historical figures aren’t among your lifelong ambitions, “Mongol” features some first-rate eye candy, from eye-popping battle scenes to gorgeous Kazakh locales. Most of the story is related visually, so you won’t have to waste too much time reading onscreen text.

The combat is appropriately bloody, and the massive scale of the battles belies the film’s modest $20 million budget. There aren’t too many Hollywood movies that can boast this much viewer gratification for the money.

Although the filmmakers behind “Mongol” hail from all over the globe, it was entered as Kazakhstan’s nominee for Best Foreign Language Film for this year’s Oscars. Yes, Kazakhstan has more to offer movie lovers than Borat.

It seems odd that a Japanese actor could do so well playing the quintessential Mongol ruler. But having seen John Wayne try his hand at the same role (“You are beautiful in your wrath,” he tells Susan Hayward) in the unintentionally hilarious bomb “The Conqueror,” it’s great to see that a film fit for the ruler has finally been made.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=16491&reviewer=382
originally posted: 06/18/08 01:06:10
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2008 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2008 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival For more in the 2008 San Francisco International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/20/10 Steve Hock A beautiful, panoramic big-sky cinematography steppe epic. 5 stars
11/02/08 ACTION MOVIE FAN GOOD BATTLES BUT THEY,RE TOO BREIF, REST OF THE FILM SLUGGISH AND BORING 2 stars
9/04/08 pHylum Eye-opening hystorically. Has the fantastic look of an epic but too many gaps. 3 stars
8/05/08 damalc made me think, 'Braveheart' in Asia 4 stars
7/02/08 PAUL SHORTT IF A HERO IS TO DESERVE THIS MUCH SPECTACLE, HE OUGHT TO BE A LITTLE BIT INTERESTING 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-Jun-2008
  DVD: 14-Oct-2008

UK
  N/A

Australia
  05-Jun-2008
  DVD: 14-Oct-2008


Directed by
  Sergei Bodrov

Written by
  Arif Aliyev
  Sergei Bodrov

Cast
  Tadanobu Asano
  Honglei Sun
  Ying Bai
  Aliya
  Amadu Mamadakov
  Khulan Chuluun



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