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Nochnoy Dozor

Night Watch

Russia 2004
produced by
Konstantin Ernst, Anatoli Maksimov, Aleksei Kulibin (supervising), Varvara Avdyushko (executive), Aleksei Kublitsky (executive) for Channel One Russia, Bazelevs Production, TABBAK
directed by Timur Bekmambetov
starring Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valeri Zolotukhin, Mariya Poroshina, Galina Tyunina, Gosha Kutsenko (= Yuri Kutsenko), Dimitry Martynov, Aleksei Chadov, Anna Dubrovskaya, Zhanna Frike, Ilya Lagutenko, Viktor Verzhbitsky, Rimma Markova, Mariya Mironova, Aleksei Maklakov, Aleksandr Samojlenko, Anna Slyusaryova
screenplay by Timur Bekmambetov, Laeta Kalogridis, based on the novel by Sergei Lukyanenko, music by Yuri Poteyenko, songs by Pleymo

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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In the 14th century, the Army of Light & the Army of Darkness have fought each other to a standstill, so an armistice for the next 1000 years is brokered. & to ensure this armistice, the Day Watch & the Night Watch are installed, watchmen who control that the other isde keeps its part of the agreement ...

1992: Anton (Konstatin Khabensky) is one of the Others, meaning he is either of the Army of Light or of Darkness, but of which one is not decided yet, that depends on a kind of funnel that will be opening (metaphorically speakiong) & let in either light or darkness. When he turns to a which though to kill the unborn baby of his wife (Mariya Mironova) who has left him, darkness seems to be taking over, but just in time, some Night Watchmen (who are actually Warriors of the Light of course) stop by to save his soul.

12 years later: Anton has since been trained to be a Night Watchman, & has since acquired the power to see funnels in people, which identify them as (yet uninitiated) Others. But soon enough, he gets into a fight over an Other - 12-year old Yegor (Dimitry Martynov), who of course eventually turns out to be Anton's son -, & in the process of this kills Andrey (Ilya Lagutenko), a Warrior of Darkness. & need I say it, the Warriors of Darkness are all vampires.

However, the fight against Andrey didn't leave Anton unharmed (actually he almotst dies himself), plus the vampires don't take it soo lightly that he has killed one of theirs, & swear bitter revenge. However, the Night Watchmen now have to get their hands on the boy, Yegor, before the vampires do, plus Anton has spotted another Other, Sveta (Mariya Poroshina), whose funnel hasn't yet opened, so Anton has to fight pretty much on two fronts ... & to help him, he is given Olga (Galina Tyunina), a sorceress who can turn into an owl.

... after many fights & carchases though, Anton & friends have gotten hold of Yegor, taken him top their hide-out, & they seem to be winning him over for the side of Light, & Anton has even found out the whereabouts of Sveta & pays her a visit to win her over as well ... & indeed, he comes t the right time, when the funnel opens & turns her into a warrior of light ...

But it seems Anton's timing was dead wrong, because when he was out winning over Sveta, the vampires concentrated their forces to kidnap Yegor, & when Anton comes back to the hide-out, he finds he has to face the Army of Darkness on his own ... & for a while he even seems to succeed, until he has to face Gesser (Vladimir Menschov), who just proves too valiant an opponent for Anton. Only when Gesser prepares to decapitate Anton does Yegor interfere, & he ultimately saves his father's life ... but at what price, since it is then and there that Gesser reveals to him that Anton tried to kill him when he was still in his mother's womb ... & this finally wins Yegor over to the Dark Side.

 

At the first glance, the movie looks quite cool, with some quite good action scenes (I liked best the scene when a truck summersaults over a man crossing the street & lands on all four wheels), cool images & some gore as well ... unfortunately only on first glance.

At closer inspection though, the film fails to hold its promise: It is way too preoccupied in setting up its complex world of the eternal fight good versus evil (according to the novel the film is based on) to tell its actual story, way too many narrative threads are interwoven to still follow what little actual story there is, & somehow, when some narrative strands are intercut, the rhythm (which is so essential to especially action scenes) is totally thrown off. & after a while the cool images become nothing more than empty hulls.

Allegedly the start of a trilogy, as the novel the film is based on is the first of a trilogy as well.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD