Sunday, April 01, 2007

Night Watch

Two bands of warriors, one good and one evil, battle to keep the peace in Moscow in this cat's cradle thriller from Russia. In 1342, the Warriors of Light (led by Gesser, Lord of Light) and the Warriors of Darkness (led by Zavulon, General of Darkness) declare a truce under which each side will form a law enforcement team to monitor the other side's activities. The Warriors of Light, who enforce the powers of good, patrol the Night Watch, while the Warriors of Darkness, who openly embrace evil, staff the Day Watch. Each watch group also contains "Others," mortals with supernatural powers from both sides that include vampires, shapeshifters, witches, and the like. Prophecy suggests that one day, a Great One will surface and permanently extinguish the threat of an apocalyptic war between the two sides by upsetting the balance, lending greater power to either good or evil (depending on his or her choice) and thus determining the future of mankind forever.

In 1992, Night Watch member and Warrior of Light Anton Gordesky (Konstantin Khabensky) discovers he's an "other" amid a sting on a witch. Cut to twelve years later. In 2004, Anton still works the Night Watch, but now he's a vampiric warrior who drinks blood. One night, while on patrol, he rescues a young boy named Egor (Dima Martinov) from a handful of Dark Warriors, but in the process, he encounters Svetlana (Maria Poroshina), a woman who acts as a "funnel" -- a conduit for the powers of evil. Anton reflects on the prophecy regarding "The Great One," and begins to suspect that Svetlana and Egor may be harbingers of this fateful event. As the first installment in a Russian trilogy, Night Watch (aka Nochnoj Dozor) was a massive box-office success in its native Russia, and is followed by the second installment, Day Watch; it was released in the U.S. with a heavy prologue and epilogue, and animated subtitles that alternately scuttle across the screen, dissolve, shudder, and explode. (all movie guide)

The only thing left for me to say is that this is one of the most original and inventive movies that I've seen in quite some time. The movie is based on a series of popular books by Sergy Lukyanenko with a second film already released and a third in the early planning stages. The release of Night Watch actually set a new box office record (in Russia) which was previously held by The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. The story borrows from classic material while, at the same time, re-imagining old and creating new techniques of 'vampire' story telling.

Another thing that really appealed to me was, because of not being familiar with any of the actors, the story and each individual are of equal importance and given time to develop. As anyone who's read a few of my movie picks could tell you, I'm not big on 'celebrity' movies or movies that simply function as a vehicle for one particular actor (but I do have my guilty pleasures).

Anyway, if you like twisty vampire have-to-pay-attention-and-think trippy kind of action flicks with very very cool subtitles, this dvd is right up your alley. Just don't forget to bring a mirror with you.

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