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Night Watch  

Review: written 2006

Russian movie beats Hollywood at own game

This is a highly entertaining and original movie which deserves to reach a wide audience. Although in the fantasy / horror genre, its style will endear it to others, in the same way `The Matrix' did.

However, this is no clean-cut Matrix style movie - though similarly ambitious in story, this is down and dirty. The world contains The Others, people who though mortal have gifts, whether sorceresses, witches, mediums, vampires or whatever. At some point in their life they have to choose to be part of the army of Dark, or part of the army of Light. Through a prologue which sets this up, oddly spoken in English and looking like it uses leftover armour from Lord of the Rings, we see the dark and the light have formed a truce. This story follows the Night Watch - these are Others who are of the Light, but during the night they check their counterparts do not break the truce. In particular, it follows one man who following a meeting with someone that looks suspiciously like a Russian version of The Oracle from The Matrix, makes choices which threaten to upset the whole balance and truce.

Music, acting, directing and art direction are all uniquely Russian and yet in quality are the match of any current Hollywood film. There are quibbles - the parallels to Ghostbusters plot are distracting - the yellow emergency vehicle for getting fast to paranormal events, the vortex around the skyscraper which becomes the focus of the climax. On the other hand, the originality makes up for this - the occasional striking use of CGI, the lack of perfect ending that Hollywood would have provided, and most especially the subtitles! The subtitles are a star in their own right and make the movie even more worth watching - if you get the two disc set make sure you watch the theatrical version, which has subtitles on screen. They are in colour, they jump about the screen, they appear and disappear in unexpected ways..

This is in short an original and imaginative movie in both style and substance - forget the language barrier and embrace something new! Can't wait for the sequel, Day Watch, which is already out in Russia...

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