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Wick's Review

Created Jun 25, 2008 01:15AM PST • Edited May 18, 2016 01:03AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Perfect 5.0

    Perfect from the first frame, this fascinating historical epic succeeds as enchanting love story, enthralling war movie and breathtaking nature film. Recounting the life of Temudgin from his noble boyhood to his emergence as Genghis Khan, Mongol puts to shame most action movies, with their contrived battles and effects. As the movie makes clear, 12th century Mongols were original bad asses, mounted warriors extraordinaire, with Temudgin the brilliant and just Khan (commander) who unified them.

    Reportedly the first part of a trilogy about the life of Genghis Khan, ruler of the largest empire the world has ever known, Mongol is a must see for war movie fans and history buffs. While the intense battle scenes put you in the middle of hand-to-hand combat, Mongol can also succeed as a date movie for the non-squeamish due to the utterly charming relationship between Temudgin and Börte, the childhood sweetheart who became his empress and partner.

  3. Perfect 5.0

    Tadanobu Asano as Temudgin and Honglei Sun as his blood brother and later arch-enemy Jamukha are the only professionals in the cast. Both are terrific, Asano contained and dignified, Sun emotional and flamboyant.

    None of the the many other speaking characters come across as amateurs. Nor do the 1,500 riders used for the battle scenes!

    Most amazing are Odnyam Odsuren as the precocious and imperious young Temudjin and Khulan Chuluun as the beautiful and regal Börte, every bit the equal of her true heart partner Temudgin.

  4. Male Stars Perfect 5.0
  5. Female Stars Perfect 5.0
  6. Female Costars Perfect 5.0
  7. Male Costars Perfect 5.0
  8. Really Great 4.5

    Produced for a mere $20 million, the movie has a cast of thousands (on horseback no less), heart stopping vistas, amazing sets and fabulous costumes. As great movies do, it transports you to a world and time far from our own.

    In some ways it feels like an Eastern Western, since it is a horse opera extraordinaire, albeit with near prehistoric Asian values.

  9. Direction Perfect 5.0

    Acclaimed Russian director Sergei Bodrov has created a masterpiece in Mongol. Genghis Khan looms large in the mythology and early history of his country, so creating this film culminates a lifetime of fascination with the conqueror from the south.

  10. Play Perfect 5.0

    Spare, direct and occasionally funny. Oh yeah, and it is in Mongolian. Not to worry, it is easier to follow than most subtitled films given the terseness.

    The larger story is bold and tremendously dramatic, especially Temudgin and Börte’s intrepid heroism and true heart love.

  11. Music Great 4.0

    Finnish composer Tuomas Kantelinen’s atmospheric music creates a palpable sense of dread at key points in the movie. OTOH, the drunken singing of the Mongol warriors pretty much dents their macho image.

  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    Wow! Every shot’s a masterpiece, with the pristine landscapes of the Steppes as fresh and eye popping as New Zealand in Lord of the Rings. Further, the battle scenes are grand yet give an intimate sense of Temudjin’s military genius.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.2

    Scimitars used in close order combat create fountains of blood. Unlike in lesser movies, none of it is gratuitous.

  15. Sex Titillating 1.7
  16. Violence Brutal 3.2
  17. Rudeness Salty 1.6
  18. Glib 1.2

    Revered in his native Mongolia, reviled in Iran, Iraq, China, Russia, Hungry, Poland and Ukraine as one of history’s most infamous tyrants, the movie asks us to consider Genghis Khan in terms of how and when he lived. By those lights, he comes across as wise, just, and noble.

    For instance, he was the first to bring laws to the Mongols, even if some of them are laughably barbaric by modern standards (e.g., It is forbidden to cut the throats of animals slain for food; they must be bound, the chest opened and the heart pulled out by the hand of the hunter. (More at Yassa).

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.5

    The movie conforms well to the Wikipedia account of Genghis Khan’s life, though two caveats are in order.

    First, what we know about him is based on a 14th century Chinese translation of The Secret History of the Mongols, the sole written account of his life.

    Second, Bodrov admits to creative license when filling blanks in the story, including the major captivity depicted in the movie.

    Bodrov also adds mystical elements to the movie that heighten the drama but strain credulity.

  20. Biological Glib 1.2

    The Mongols were said to be especially hardy in winter conditions, able to traverse frozen rivers and lakes for great distances. Still, I was left shaking my head when young Temudgin plunges through the ice and later reappears without even a touch of frostbite.

  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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