Mongol
R
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +2

Tadanobu Asano. Foreign action/bio from Russian director Sergei Bodrov.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Recounts the early life of Genghis Khan who was a slave before going on to conquer half the world, including Russia, in 1206.

Based on scholarly accounts and written by Sergei Bodrov and Arif Aliyev, Mongol delves into the dramatic and harrowing early years of the Mongolian ruler. As it follows Temudgin from his perilous childhood to the battle that sealed his destiny, the film paints a multidimensional portrait of the future conqueror. The film shows us the foundation on which so much of his greatness rested: his relationship with his wife, Borte, his lifelong love and most trusted advisor.

PREVIEW REVIEW: For such a long film (126 min.) it leaves out such details as how Temudgin (later dubbed Genghis Kahn) became a warrior with the combined skill of Bruce Lee and Patton. Much of the film he is seen as a captured slave, often with a yoke around his neck. Suddenly we see him in battle behaving like a Marvel superhero. Then theres the slow pacing, so out of step with the sensibilities of todays targeted audience, and the slow-mo battle sequences containing blood spraying and bodies twisting ala Sam Peckinpahs The Wild Bunch. These are turnoffs and setbacks which may cause a quick death at the American box office. A shame, because despite these shortcomings, its the best film Ive seen so far this year. Reason: the visceral and poetic nature of Sergei Bodrov and Arif Aliyevs storytelling. Its simply mesmerizing, and fascinating to look at, with its Doctor Zhivago-like cinematography.

The technical and artistic achievements are award-worthy, filmed in the very lands where the world conqueror became legend. Director Sergei Bodrov, who won Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his acclaimed drama Kavkazsky Plennik/Prisoner of the Mountains in 1996, transports us to an exotic locale and period in world history, filming what reportedly is to be the first in a Genghis Kahn trilogy.

DVD Alternatives: El Cid. Charlton Heston as the legendary hero who drove the Moors from Spain. Great spectacle (without being too gruesome), with a literate script and lovely score. A newly remastered edition features commentaries and featurettes.

Or:

Spartacus. Kirk Douglas stars as a slave who heads a rebellion against the tyranny of Rome. It contains terrific acting, score and theme, and in Spartacus, when you see legions of soldiers on the battlefield they are real, not computer generated.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Picturehouse

Summary
Crude Language: None
Obscene Language: Three obscenities (the s-word).
Profanity: None
Violence: There are several battle sequences and some harsh treatment of captured slaves-to-be. Blood: Blood is seen in every battle, some sprayed about much the way Sam Peckinpah introduced the visual in The Wild Bunch.
Sexual Intercourse: A sex scene between a married couple is played in silhouette; its brief and not exploitive, but represents their love and union.
Nudity: Brief shot of topless woman bathing.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: After battles men are seen drunk.
Other: The lead character prays to his god; a mystical wolf appears and sets him free from bondage but the spiritual element is not portrayed with much credibility.
Running Time: 124 minutes
Intended Audience: Older Teens and Above

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