Monday, October 25, 2010

Mongol (2007)

Genre : Historical Epic, Biography, War Drama, Romance.
Language : Mongolian, Mandarin.
Country : Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Germany.
Cast : Tadanobu Asano, Sun Hong-Lei, Khulan Chuluun, Odnyam Odsuren.
Directed by : Sergei Bodrov
Run Time : 126 min
Release Date : 20th September, 2007

Synopsis :
“Mongol” is a semi-historical epic film based on the early life of Temüjin, the young Genghis Khan and the events which led him to become a legendary conqueror. Contradicting the Western (and Russian) image of Genghis Khan as the monstrous and cruel conqueror, Bodrov's work is influenced by Lev Gumilev's "The Legend of the Black Arrow" and is based on "The Secret History of the Mongols", the 13th century Mongolian account, unknown until its re-emergence in China 700 years later. Shooting took place, for the most part, in the People's Republic of China, mainly Inner Mongolia, and in Kazakhstan.

‘Mongol’ illuminates the life and legend of Genghis Khan. It shows the dramatic and harrowing early years of the ruler who was born as Temüjin in 1162. As it follows Temüjin from his perilous childhood to the battle that sealed his destiny, the film paints a multi-dimensional portrait of the future conqueror, revealing him not as the evil brute of hoary stereotype, but as an inspiring, fearless and visionary leader. ‘Mongol’ shows us the making of an extraordinary man, and the foundation on which so much of his greatness rested - his unique relationship with his wife, Borte, his lifelong love and most trusted advisor!

Plot :
The movie quotes an old Mongolian proverb - "Do not scorn a weak cub; He may become a brutal tiger!” The film opens with Temüjin (Tadanobu Asano) as a prisoner in the Tangut Kingdom, and narrates his earlier life through flashbacks. Nine-year-old young Temüjin (Odnyam Odsuren) is travelling with his father, Esugei (Ba Sen), a tribal chieftain (Khan), to select a girl as his bride. On the way, he meets young Börte (Bayertsetseg Erdenebat), the daughter of his father’s friend, who says she would like to be chosen and asserts she would make an excellent wife. While his father wishes him to choose a wife from the ‘Merkit’ tribe, Temüjin convinces his father to allow him to choose Börte. He promises to return after five years to marry her.

On their way home, Temüjin's father is poisoned by an enemy tribe. As he lies dying, he tells Temüjin he is now the new khan. However one of his father's warriors, Targutai, orders the other tribesmen to loot the dead khan's camp, taking the horses and livestock. Targutai spares Temüjin's life, declaring “a Mongol does not kill children!

After falling through the ice on a frozen lake, Temüjin is found lying down in the snow by a young boy, Jamukha (Amarbold Tuvshinbayar). The two quickly become friends and perform a traditional ceremony declaring themselves ‘blood brothers’. Targutai, however, catches up with Temüjin and he is captured and locked in a cangue. Temüjin escapes late one night and continues to roam in the countryside.

We do not see Temüjin again until 1186 where he is a young man. He once again is caught by Targutai, who wishes to kill him now as he is grown up. Temüjin escapes again, this time taking one of the tribe's horses. He goes to find Börte (Khulan Chuluun) and brings her back to his family. Later that night they are attacked by the ‘Merkit’ tribe led by Chiledu to take revenge, because Temüjin's father had years before stolen his wife from one of their tribesmen. While being chased on horseback, Temüjin is shot with an arrow. Börte whips Temüjin’s horse, telling it to go home. Börte is captured and told by the Merkit leader that she is now his. Temüjin returns to his family weakened but determined to get his wife back.

Temüjin goes to his childhood friend, Jamukha (Sun Hong-Lei) who is now a khan himself. Jamukha agrees to help him attack the Merkit tribe and get his wife back, though only after a year passes. The attack on the Merkit tribe is a success, and Temüjin finds Börte alive and Chiledu dead with his throat slit. However, just as he feared, Bortë has been raped and left pregnant with Chiledu's son, whom Temüjin accepts as his own. Against Jamukha’s wish to stay, Temüjin and his men leave early the next morning, and two of Jamukha's soldiers also joined Temüjin because he takes better care of his warriors than Jamukha. Jamukha chases down Temüjin, but Temüjin refuses to send back Jamukha's warriors because a Mongol warrior is free to choose his lord, and Jamukha's warriors chose Temüjin. Jamukha warns him that his actions will lead to war.

Taichar, Jamukha's brother, is later killed while attempting to steal Temüjin's horses and this brings Jamukha and Temüjin go to war. When their armies face off, Temüjin sends some of his men to protect the families, while those remaining continue to fight. Being outnumbered, the army is quickly over-run. Jamukha decides to make Temüjin a slave rather than kill him.

Temüjin is sold to a rich garrison chief (Zhang Jiong) of the Tangut kingdom despite the dire warning given by a Buddhist monk (Ben Hon Sun) acting as his advisor. While imprisoned, the monk pleads Temüjin to forgive his monastery when he is free, and Temujin agrees in exchange for delivering a wish bone to Borte indicating he is still alive. The determined old monk finally manages to deliver his message to Börte. To get to Tangut, the faithful Börte becomes a merchant's concubine, bearing a daughter along the way. Once Börte arrives in Tangut, she abandons the merchant and pays the guard for the key to Temüjin's cage.

After his escape from Tangut, Temüjin gathers an army to unite all Mongol tribes and made some basic rules to live by. By using special war tactics, Temüjin defeats Jamukha to unite all the tribes. He then lets Jamukha leave alive. With the united army of Mongols, Temüjin wiped out the Tangut kingdom from the face of the Earth but the monastery survived. After his victory, Temüjin is named the ‘Khan of all Mongols - Genghis Khan’!

Reviews :
■ Peter Rainer of Christian Science Monitor states that “Mongol is a throwback to a more respectable tradition. The largeness of its scope arises naturally from the material, not the budget. The movie earns its stature.”
■ A O Scott of The New York Times describes Mongol as "a big, ponderous epic, its beautifully composed landscape shots punctuated by thundering hooves and bloody, slow-motion battle sequences."
■ Joe Neumaier of New York Daily News praised the performance of Chinese actor Sun Hong-Lie as - "Sun Hong-Lei, who, as Jamukha, gives so many neck-cracks, guttural howls and conspiratorial smiles he's like a Chinese Marlon Brando."
■ The Globe and Mail states - "As an epic action movie, Mongol is satisfying enough. Think Brave Heart. Think 300. Just don't think too much."

Cast :
■ Temüjin / Genghis Khan (Tadanobu Asano)
■ Jamukha (Sun Hong-Lei)
■ Börte - Temüjin's Wife (Khulan Chuluun)
■ Monk (Ben Hon Sun)
■ Esugei - Temüjin's Father (Ba Sen)
■ Oelun - Temüjin's Mother (Aliya)
■ Chiledu - Oelun’s First Husband (Sai Xing Ga)
■ Targutai (Amadu Mamadakov)
■ Taichar - Jamukha's Brother (Ba Ren)
■ Young Temüjin (Odnyam Odsuren)
■ Young Borte (Bayertsetseg Erdenebat)
■ Young Jamukha (Amarbold Tuvshinbayar)
■ Tangut Garrison Chief (Zhang Jiong)

Awards :
1. It won the 2007 Golden Eagle Awards for Best Costume and Best Sound Design.
2. It won the 2007 Nika Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematographer, Best Production Designer, Best Costume Designer, and Best Sound.
3. It won the 2007 Asian Film Award for Best Supporting Actor - Sun Hong-Lei.
4. It won the 2008 Houston Film Critics Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
5. It won the 2008 Las Vegas Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
6. It was nominated for the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film (from Kazakhstan).
7. It was nominated for the 2007 Asia Pacific Screen Awards for Achievement in Cinematography.
8. It was nominated for the 2008 Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Ratings : = 7.4/10; = 4/5; = 7.4/10; = 7.1/10
[Source : Wikipedia, IMDB, AllMovie, RottenTomatoes, MetaCritic]

Gallery :

1 comment:

  1. This is a great movie and I recommend everyone that is interested in history to watch this exciting movie.