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Thursday, October 27, 2005

NIGHT WATCH (Nochnoy dozor)

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'Night Watch' (Nochnoy dozor) is a Russian film, and it's much different from any of the other Russian films I've seen... oh wait, the only other Russian film I've ever seen was Russian Ark, which broke records as the entire film, 90+ minutes of it was filmed with ONE TAKE. The first film of a planned trilogy, this is a Gothic fantasy/action movie with vampires from opposing sides beating and killing the shit out of each other (okay, not really, one is supposed to be keeping tabs on the other like police), and was the top-grossing Russian film of all time when it was released last year (the record is broken by another film not too long ago). So yes, I've already heard a lot about this film long before it came out.

Made with only $US4 million dollars, it might only be slightly more expensive than Malaysia's own Puteri Gunung Ledang, I think. Director Bakmambetov used to direct commercials, so he's pretty stylish, and the film's a good visual treat considering its budget (which is even less than, say, a typical romantic comedy in Hollywood). HOWEVER, his flashy editing style may have was a wee bit too excessive... to the point where I ended up getting a headache. Which is saying a lot considering that I personally employ such techniques for my own videos as well. I don't need to see the insides of a car EVERY SINGLE TIME they start the engine, man. Were you confused by the fighting scenes in Batman Begins? Hell, the quick cuts in the last part of the film made me wonder whether there was any fight at all, or was the hero just hallucinating. Yes, it was THAT bad.

The hero Anton (who KINDA looked like Bono when wearing sunglasses) is a member of the Night Watch, a Light Other ('Other' = Vampire) who polices the Dark Others, preventing them from preying on the innocent, or getting overboard in their killing. Then, things got complicated when the simmering tension between the Night Watch and the Day Watch threatened to erupt, and a massive war seemed about to begin. The movie isn't entirely amazing, and it has its flaws, the silliness of how a certain important plot was resolved (the one about the Virgin) stuck out to me, also with the aforementioned editing. Characterization is slight, but still enough to make you want to see hero Anton kick some ass (... which he honestly didn't do much in this film).

The subtitles usage in this film is VERY creative, the text are faint and transparent when a character whispers, then it flares red when someone's screaming in anger, or it floats around the screen when it was a vampire's seductive call to lure her victims. (something I definitely want to use in my future projects) In fact, I could almost say that the subtitles may have been the highlight of the film. Not entirely a mindblowing film as I've hoped, but likable enough for me to look forward to the sequels (said to be filmed in English since it'll be financed by Fox Searchlight, hmmm...) after the cliffhanger ending.

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