Mongol, an epic tale from the Russian director Sergei Bodrov (Prisoner of the Mountains) charts the early years of Genghis Khan–from his childhood until he became the great Khan uniting the Mongol tribes.
The film begins with young Temudgin (Genghis) with his father as they journey to the Merkit tribe in order for Genghis to select a tribe. Temudgin’s father took a bride from the Merkits, and so Temudgin’s marriage to a Merkit girl will forge a relationship between the tribes. Well that’s the plan, at least, but Borta, a girl from another tribe, beguiles young Temudgin. He picks her, and this selection starts a chain of bloody events that basically comprise the rest of the film and serve as evidence for this legendary warrior’s resilience.
Bodrov’s film Mongol is part one of a trilogy, and if you enjoy the film (as I did) we can look forward to the rest of the story. As it is, Mongol is just concerned with the early years, Temudgin’s enslavement and his rise to power. The film is, above all, an epic spectacle with little introspection, and little emphasis on Mongol culture but loads of action in the form of bloody, gruesome, fierce battles, initially between Temudgin and the warriors loyal to him and their blood enemies–the Merkits. Later the battles shift to Temudgin and his blood brother, Jamukha (Honglei Sun). Jamukha is my favorite character in the entire film. Perhaps it’s that jewelry ring (looks like a Bluetooth) he wears around his ear, or perhaps it’s because of his laugh. No matter, he’s still my favorite character and he steals the film.
It’s the film’s cinematography that ultimately makes this a must-see. Every frame is different. From the woods, the endless steppe, the shimmering river, the burning sands, the photography is spectacular. While this isn’t a masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, this is a magnificent spectacle from eminent Russian director Sergei Bodrov–a name in Russian cinema to watch out for.