Hot Rod


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In 2004 Night Watch broke box office records in Russia and did quite well in other parts of the world. In 2006, the sequel, Day Watch, did even better. However, it is very Russian in tone and atmosphere, which makes it rather difficult for non-Russians to appreciate.
And, then, it is edited in a way that goes against the more solemn, slowly-paced Russian cinema tradition. Its director comes from commercials and music videos and is a master at the swift cut editing style, so that the film races ahead - and one needs to concentrate on who is who, who is good and who is bad and what is happening. This is a film of visual, effects and technological flair.

Based on a series of novels by S who has adapted them for the screen, the basic plot is the confrontation between good and evil. A parallel from the English-language cinema is the Underworld series.

The film opens with some spectacular scenes of the Mongol chief Tamerlane, his invasions and sieges but, more particularly, his gaining of a piece of chalk (why chalk?), the Chalk of Destiny which one can use to change history and destiny. The vampire powers of darkness are after the Chalk but their leader wants blood spilt by the Night Watch so that apocalyptic destruction can be achieved (quite spectacular when it does).

What follows is a battle between good and evil in the forms of those who are good with special powers (the Night Watch) and the descendants of vampires (the Day Watch). All the activity goes on against a background of seedy Moscow locations as well as a grand hotel with characters moving in and out of zones as they try to outwit each other. It is set in the Communist era since the sunshine ending is in 1992.

If you do not become involved (a risk because of the film's being difficult to follow at times), then it will be a long two hours. For those on this fantasy wavelength and interested to see how the Russians do it, no worries.

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