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NIGHT WATCH

SYNOPSIS:
In contemporary Moscow, the other-world battle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness unfolds. For centuries, the undercover members of the Night Watch have policed the world's Dark Ones - the vampires, witches, shape-shifters and sorcerers that wage treachery in the night - while the Dark Ones have a Day Watch that in turn polices the forces of Light. The fate of humanity rests on this delicate balance between good and evil, but an ancient prophecy predicts that a powerful 'Other' will rise up and be tempted by one of the sides, plunging the world into a renewed war between Dark and Light.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Nothing less than apocalyptic forces drive the fantasy books that have spawned this film, the first of a trilogy coming our way from Russia's energetic and bravado filmmaker Timur Bekmambetov. But the surprise is that the film is set in a contemporary Moscow, and the characters - even the Others - are ruggedly, defiantly human, often unshaven and never strictly beautiful.

The filmmaking is highly seductive, from the stylish visual flourishes right down to the creative graphic treatment of the subtitles. Despite a slightly confusing story line, the cumulative effect of the plot, and the clear top and tail, provide enough involvement to engage and entertain us.

While the overall achievement is original, the film does borrow from others, but that's more or less impossible to avoid these days. What does stand out, though, is the marriage of Russian national cinema and Hollywood commercial filmmaking; the latter invested in extra SFX after Russian production was completed, when Fox acquired distribution rights.

The director's experience as a hot tv commercials and music video producer shows in his use of images, symbolism and pace; but there is also a solid anchor of gravitas from the source material, including themes of right and wrong within the conflicted characters who reside on either side of the moral divide.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 1
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

NIGHT WATCH (MA)
(Russia, 2004)

Nochnoy Dozor

CAST: Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valerie Zolotukhni, Mariya Poroshina, Galina Tyunina, Gosha Kutsenko

PRODUCER: Konstantin EWrnst, Anatoli Maksimov

DIRECTOR: Timu Bekmambetov

SCRIPT: Timu Bekmambetov, Laeta Kalogridis (novel by Sergei Lukyanenko)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Sergei Trofimov

EDITOR: Dmitri Kiselyov

MUSIC: Yuri Poteyenko (Gladiator extract, by Hans Zimmer)

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mukhtar Mirzakeyev, Valeri Viktorov

RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox Searchlight

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 6, 2005

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: March 15, 2006







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