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Night Watch (2005)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Timur Bekmambetov

Starring:
Konstantin Khabensky/Anton
Mariya Poroshina/Svetlana
Galina Tyunina/Olga
Aleksei Maklakov/Semyon
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
Good (psychics and shape shifters) and evil (ball busting vampires) battle it out in present day Moscow, continuing a feud that has waged for ages. A young brat and a jinxed chickadee seem to be the keys, one way or another as to the relentless rumble. Place your bets! I got my money on evil!
THE LOWDOWN

Damned isn’t just a word - Anton

This is a review of the Fox Searchlight version of Night Watch, not the original Russian version. I hear they are different.

Night Watch (or Nochnoy dozor for my Russian friends…all two of them) is based on Sergei Lukyanenko's popular (in Russia anyways) novels of the same name. A huge hit in Russia (eclipsing both Return of the King and Spider Man 2 at the Box Office), it’s easy to see why this one was a keeper with the crowds.

Although Night Watch’s story was a typical one (good vs. evil) and far from original (Star Wars actually came to mind, especially as to where it’s heading with its sequels), it was still a captivating jamboree to kick with. I was sucked into a world filled with mystery and fascinating otherworldly beings that I just couldn’t get enough of! Now granted, clichés were in the house, but they were delivered with such gusto that I couldn’t help but a pop a boner for them anyways. Much like after gulping a whole bottle of "Southern Comfort", I felt as if anything was possible while watching the film and more often then none it pleasurably proved me right on that front. With that said Night Watch was first and foremost a visual peach, one that I sank my fangs into whole heartily and couldn’t get enough of.

Somebody took their Matrix and Lord of the Rings homework very seriously when in fan boy school where this trip was filled to the brim with arrestingly bleak imagery (loved them murder of crows), kinetic editing, insane shots, slick uses of bullet time and an aspiration in wanting to show me “novel" stuff that endeared the heck out of me. Ever see through a kid’s skull? How about witness an Owl mutate into a broad (got Friday night flashbacks there)? Or how about some duder using his spine as a sword? Well you’ll see that sweet jive in here and then some! Other more familiar “US blockbusters” ingredients were on hand as well (like the flipping car from Hellboy or the battle sequences from LOTR) but they were a hoot and a half to boogie with nonetheless. The slight variations and the fact that they were set within different contexts made them happen for me!

I did have a couple of fist fights to spark with this opus though. First and foremost, it was way to convoluted for my simpleton self. I was lost in this one’s shuffle on many occasions (felt like I was playing “Where’s Waldo" with the plot) and the film didn’t seem to want to help me out much. It unraveled at the speed of sound, rarely explained anything and let me, and me alone, make heads or bitch of it all. On one hand, I appreciated the encouragement in using my grey matter, on the other; I don’t like to use it THAT much when sitting down with a tub of oily Pop Corn and a Jack and Coke. Then there was the fantasy elements on hand that somewhat rubbed me the wrong way. Not the film’s fault really, I’m just not a big fantasy guy by nature…is all. At least Trolls weren’t present. I hate Trolls! Lastly one twist made me groan big time in its silliness, after all that time spent with the subplot, I craved something more solid and less throwaway (although the twist that followed it had me grinning).

Let me put it this way, I didn’t fully get what in Pam Anderson’s cleavage was going on in this genre bending petting Zoo, but I grasped enough to be hooked in. The somber-polished style, the LSD shots and the zealous creativity behind it all sealed the deal! East wants to be West while remaining East? YOU BET! See the result and chomp into Night Watch.
GORE
This one gave me enough red soup to please! We get a pair of scissors in one’s hand, a head missing one half, lots of nasty gashes, a slick transformation sequence, burning/disintegrating vampires, a hand inserted through a chest and more!
ACTING
Konstantin Khabensky (Anton) displayed the proper amount of pathos and somberness to make him quite the engaging anti hero. Mariya Poroshina (Svetlana) had an aloofness and sense of stillness about her that worked for the role. Galina Tyunina (Olga) didn’t do much for me, maybe it was the way the part was written, maybe it was her, not sure. Viktor Verzhbitsky (Zavulon) had the restraint and the creepy factor going on over time.
T & A
Galina Tyunina showed us her butt cheeks and breasts while the ladies got some shirtless dudes. Nothing to e-mail mom about, unless you want to borrow money from her at the same time.
DIRECTING
Timur Bekmambetov's must have watched a slew of kinteic American films before tackling his baby. How else can you explain his Wachowski Brothers on steroids vibe? Bekmambetov coated the screen with every visual trick in the freaking A-List book. Hey, I wasn’t complaining, I’m a huge “style whore” and this flick quenched my fix. Keep em coming Coyboy!
SOUNDTRACK
The dark score, the sly use of sound and the odd hard rock ditty slapped a huge smile on my stupid, poseur critic face. Good shite Riddler! What was up with that Russian rap though?
BOTTOM LINE
Word on the street is that this is the first of a trilogy and you know what Tonto? Night Watch highly entertained, had my jaw drop via its zany visuals and fascinated me with it’s out there narrative. Meaning… I’ll put my hard earned cash down RIGHT NOW for the future installments! I’m IN! Now, yup it confused me more than my last disastrous relationship (what happened) and the fantasy jive grated me in places but overall I had one heck of gnarly time. Want your irises to widen akin to being on a speed trip? Hit this watch with all the night that you have!
BULL'S EYE
Night Watch 2 is presently entering Post Prod while Night Watch 3 is entering pre prod. Wow, they're not messing around!

Night Watch brought it 30 Million at the Russian Box Office.

VISIT THE OFFICIAL NIGHT WATCH SITE

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+0
6:29PM on 03/14/2006
Visually well-excuted. Entertaining. Gory. Yet overlong and sometimes REALLY confusing (they had me lost between the Day Watch people.. the Night Watch people.. and the film wasn't all that great to get me wanting to see it again and figure all things out).
Loved the opening sequence (a la LTR) and also the Witch-like woman and her interview with Anton. But towards the end things got way too complicated and lost my interest if it wasn't for closing the film with scenes that looked like
Visually well-excuted. Entertaining. Gory. Yet overlong and sometimes REALLY confusing (they had me lost between the Day Watch people.. the Night Watch people.. and the film wasn't all that great to get me wanting to see it again and figure all things out).
Loved the opening sequence (a la LTR) and also the Witch-like woman and her interview with Anton. But towards the end things got way too complicated and lost my interest if it wasn't for closing the film with scenes that looked like copy/past from the opening (or were they really?)
Looking forward for the next installement (kind of) because the concept is cool, yet they have to take it easy and remember: it's just a horror film, they don't need to go Syriana on us, man!
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9:08AM on 07/29/2005
I totally agree with Arrow on this one. I dug this movie entirely, except for the few parts that just kill your brain. You sit there trying to figure out what just happened and during that time you miss like 3 other things that just happened. I unfortunately though have not seen the Fox Searchlight version. I ordered the russian version from russiandvd.com. The only real problem I actually had with the movie (and I'm not sure if it's different on the US release) was that the production value
I totally agree with Arrow on this one. I dug this movie entirely, except for the few parts that just kill your brain. You sit there trying to figure out what just happened and during that time you miss like 3 other things that just happened. I unfortunately though have not seen the Fox Searchlight version. I ordered the russian version from russiandvd.com. The only real problem I actually had with the movie (and I'm not sure if it's different on the US release) was that the production value was horrible. I felt like I was sitting through a PBS production. Well thats my take on things. Keep up the good work Arrow.
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