Nochnoy Dozor / Night Watch

Nochnoy Dozor / Night Watch is a Russian film and the first part of a trilogy. It is a modern day fantasy about the age old struggle between good and evil which has come to a stalemate and now both parties try to keep the status quo (a bit like the Cold War) with the Night Watch (good guys watching bad guys) and the Day Watch (bad guys watching good guys) being the overseers of this truce, all the while letting the normal people believe that nothing of the sort of wizards, witches, vampires and shape-shifters exists. The members of the warring factions are called Others and are awaiting the arrival of a prophesied Other that will break the balance for one side or the other.
The director has mainly been doing commercials and music videos, and that is very evident throughout the film. Most of the time this works very well, once in while you feel as if a particular shot did not really have to be in slow-motion or that the camera didn’t have to twirl around the scene 3 times. In that regard it takes plenty of inspiration from Hollywood blockbusters, but is able to stand on its own with a certain grittiness, an odd sense of humour and non-sterile characters, but the blatant Nescafe ads are awful.
The Russian DVD of this has good English subtitles, although certain choices may confuse viewers (i.e. “the Other” = “an Other”, “funnel” = “vortex”).
Better than I expected (and I hoped it would be good). Recommended (as long as you don’t expect an art-house film).

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