The Movie Buffer

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Dvd Review: Night Watch


Tough on spoilers


Mix a story about supernatural forces, a talented Russian director with a tiny budget and you get a great action/fantasy picture that even the most jaded Matrix special effects fan can enjoy. At the time of it’s release, 2004, Night Watch became the highest grossing Russian film. It spawned a sequel called Day Watch, which is being released in North America through Fox Searchlight Pictures June 1st.

The story follows Anton Gorodetsky who sells his soul to a Dark witch, which leads him to be immersed in the world of the occult. Anton decides to join the Night Watch, an organization that hunts down the Dark Others who violate The Agreement.

The Others are all the supernatural beings in the world: vampires, shape shifters, witches/wizards etc. Theses groups are broken down in Light Others and Dark Others (very much like the light and dark Jedi from Star Wars). As a solution to the unending war, the Light and the Dark create a pact called The Agreement, which states that neither side will forcefully recruit new members, use their powers to influence human affairs, or even draw a drop of blood from the opposing faction. In order to monitor their enemies, each side creates a secret police: the Light Others have the Night Watch and the Dark Others have the Day Watch.

Night Watch is a more realistic action film where the line between the heroes and the villains is blurred. The heroes aren’t pure, wholesome peacekeepers and the villains aren’t blood thirsty (except for the vampires) maniacs. Both sides are just as ambitious as the other - they lie, cheat and bend all the rules in The Agreement to get the upper hand on their rivals.

The film has particularly dark undertones and many scenes of graphic violence so this isn’t a movie that will please all audiences - especially those who don’t approve of witchcraft, voodoo and other devices of Satan.

The special effects in Night Watch are incredible and extensively used. The Gloom(also known as the Twilight), the limbo outside reality that the Others use as an escape from the living, is especially impressive. These effects on par with many of the big budget action films and they were done on a scant 4 Mil USD budget.

The film aptly follows multiple storylines, which is an interesting twist in itself, because having such a tightly written story in an action movie is rarely seen. Two of the storylines are cliché but there are enough interesting elements that make them seem fresh.

The characters are portrayed by a cast of very capable actors, who make their characters believable and mostly human.

With everything that this film has going for it, it has a lot of rough edges: Some of the secondary characters are so over the top that it really breaks the mood of their scenes; Many of the combat scenes are done in a frantic tangle of quick cuts which can be difficult to follow; Russian humor was tricky to “get”.

This is a solid film that has all the bases covered: good effects and story, decent actors – 7/10. You may need to hunt around for this film because it wasn’t widely released.


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