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</script></div>{/googleAds}Upon mention of the term ‘foreign film' to the average domestic cinema goer, the first image conjured isn't one of Hollywood-level spectacle, but of subtitles and settings not often seen at the local multiplex. So it came as a bit of surprise to the English-speaking world when Russian filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov unleashed 2004's Hollywood-level action-fest Night Watch to great acclaim and financial success. Showing balls of steel and unwavering belief Night Watch would succeed, the filmmakers announced in short order this would be the first of a trilogy. Well, once the film opened, no one argued - in fact, Fox Searchlight not only bought the distributions rights to the first two instalments, but in addition bankrolled the third as yet unnamed film.

The second instalment, Day Watch, is not based on the Serge Lukyanenko novel of the same name, but on the second and third parts of his novel Night Watch. In this instalment, Anton walks a dangerous line between light and dark as he tries to hide his ‘Dark One' son's misdeeds and prevent all out war between the two opposing powers. His efforts lead him to ‘The Chalk of Destiny' a mystic talisman that can undo a bad choice for the one that wields it. Of course things don't go to plan, and much ado about carnage and mayhem unfurls.

This is not a story you want to come into having not seen the first one. It has a rather complex mythology, an abundance of recurring characters, and a pace that is not forgiving of the inattentive. The story jumps rapidly between characters, time, locations, at a frenetic speed, and if you don't speak Russian, make sure you don't miss the subtitles, or good luck making sense of it. Taking away any difficulty a foreigner may encounter trying to follow things, the main story of a man torn between his boy and his love is a good one. Tonally, the film seems to shy away from that potentially moving emotional element, despite it being the spine of the film, and delivers it's exposition in a surreal and at times comical way not doing it's greatest asset any favours in the process.

Bekmambetov's direction is first rate action fodder, and anybody that got hung up on the Wachowski brothers' Matrix trilogy will undoubtedly be in surround sound heaven as crap gets blown up and vehicles do gymnastics. Refreshing to see this stuff tied to the story for the most part, unlike most of the films that followed the aforementioned trilogy with the give-me-a-Matrixy-shot-here ethos seemingly the thing to do for a while. What does get a little jarring at times is the editing, and the pacing, which occasionally plays like a VJ ripped on a speedball was let at the editing controls. It's stylish stuff, but a little goes a long way in some instances, and with such a lot of exposition unfolding in the busy milieu, it would have been easier to digest at a less visually frantic pace.

While the actors attack their roles with an obvious relish, like a lot of their ‘western' counterparts in action movies, they seem a little stretched and forced in moments of emotion, particularly Mariya Poroshina, who doesn't convince as a women with the weight of the world literally on her shoulders. There is rumour that the third instalment is to be recast with English speaking actors, which would be a huge mistake and disrespectful to the Russian cast and crew that have made this series the success it is. For my buck, if they must ‘re-do,' better to start from scratch and let the Russians finish their way.

The soundtrack is a mix of score and techno/rock, and ably placed in context to the scenes, but not entirely successful at setting a consistent tone for the film as a whole.

For those who relish in a good action romp, with breathtaking effects, Day Watch delivers and then some. In addition, it's a good film to get those a bit iffy about watching subtitled movies sucked in, and show them it doesn't necessarily mean an hour and a half of romance with two people you can't understand, or samurai swords flailing about those talented Russians can deliver carnage as good as anyone.


DVD Details:

Screen formats: Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1

Subtitles: English; French; Spanish

Language and Sound: English: Dolby Digital 5.1; Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; trailer; director's commentary; making-of featurette.

* Commentary - with director Timur Bekmambetov
* Featurette - Making of Day Watch
* Trailers - for six different Russian films and Television Spots. Also included are previews for several other Fox trailers.

Number of discs: - 1 with Keepcase packaging


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