STARRING: Konstantin Khabensky,
Vladimir Menshov, Viktor Verzhbitsky, Mariya Poroshina, Galina Tyunina, Gosha
2006, 114 Minutes, Directed by: Timur Bekmambetov
Among normal humans live the "Others" possessing various supernatural powers.
They are divided up into the forces of light and the forces of the dark, who
signed a truce several centuries ago to end a devastating battle. Ever since,
the forces of light govern the day while the night belongs to their dark
opponents. In modern day, the dark Others actually roam the night as vampires
while a "Night Watch" of light forces, among them Anton, try to control them and
limit their outrage.
Night Watch is
the first part of a fantasy/horror trilogy based on a series of Russian novels Sergei Lukyanenko, hence the unsatisfying ending. But it’s good enough to make
you want more and more is on its way: the sequel is currently playing in packed
Bit of a phenomenon, Night
Watch did extremely good box office in its native Russia and was quickly
picked up for U.S. and international distribution by Fox Searchlight, Fox’s
“indie” distributor. Not exactly what you’d expect of a “foreign” Russian film,
Night Watch may have subtitles, but it is a violent, action-packed fantasy flick
about “battle between Light and Darkness”, that old Hollywood plot standby.
Yup, the plot isn’t
particularly original. It’s about immortal “Others” who look human but actually
possess supernatural powers such as shape shifting, magic or vampirism battling
it out in an age-old epic struggle. Think Highlander
with elements thrown in from other movies such as Blade, Underworld
and so forth. But the movie is such a case of delirious style over substance
with its energetic pace, great special effects done on a small budget,
professional acting and good production values, that it can at any time compete
with much more expensive Hollywood blockbusters.
It however has a certain
non-Hollywood flavor to it that elevates it above similar recent American
efforts. (Maybe it’s those gloomy Moscow settings.) It is easy however to
understand the movie’s popularity in its own native country: Night Watch
is something to be proud of. Sure, often some countries with smaller film
industries tend to over-fixate on certain undeserving home-brewed movies out of
a misguided sense of patriotism, but Night Watch isn’t one of those movies.
Instead it’s an enjoyable —
albeit bloody —
action flick that’ll appeal to genre fans.
The Russians should be proud.
Here is a kick-ass movie that shows that Hollywood isn’t the only ones who can
do Hollywood, and can beat the Americans at their own game.
Easily recommended, and so is
its 2007 sequel Day Watch which should preferably be
watched together as a double bill. . .