Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: September 9th, 2008
MSRP:$39.99 each

Director: Timur Bekmambetov
Stars: Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valeri Zolotukhin, Mariya Poroshina, Galina Tyunina

We don’t hear too much about Russian cinema. Sure, the occasional art house theater will present the odd title, but that is rare (at least in the Twin Cities).
So when Night Watch started to get a solid buzz in the U.S., I was curious as to what a big budget Russian fantasy film would look like.
Based the novels of Sergei Lukyanenko, Night Watch, and its follow-up Day Watch, present a thousand year old cold war, between the forces of light (The Night Watch) and darkness (The Day Watch), that is being fought behind the scenes of modern day society.

Set in Moscow, circa 1992, there are folks with supernatural abilities (Shapeshifting, witchcraft and whatnot) that are known as Others. Over the centuries, the Others have chosen sides and maintained an uneasy truce.

Night Watch starts out with Anton discovering his has powers. Anton becomes a member of the Night Watch and ends up being a key member, one that may well lead the forces of order into the final battle against chaos.

In Day Watch, Anton’s son, Yegor, has chosen to become part of the Day Watch. Yegor is powerful and might tilt the balance of power to the forces of darkness.

Looking to prevent disaster, Anton seeks out a powerful talisman called Chalk of Fate. This piece of chalk can erase one mistake of the past. Anton wants to go back and stop himself from learning of his powers. Had he not joined the battle, he might not have lost his son.

I will say that the story, which is pretty standard fantasy fare, is made more interesting by the influences of the Russian culture and history. There is also a level of roughness that one does not usually find in American films. That roughness works and helps give these films a flavor all their own.

Watching them in HD is interesting because the roughness of the films make it difficult to determine just how much is added. I can say that the colours look good and the contrast is strong.

These films are not for everybody, I can see some art house snobs not liking the fantasy origins, and I can also imagine fans of Blade and Underworld might also have issues with the subtitles and foreign cultural sensibilities.

Me, I enjoyed Night Watch quite a bit. Day Watch was weaker, but even this weaker film is still interesting, something that cannot be said of many Hollywood releases. Fans of fantasy looking for something different really should pick up these two

Order Night Watch from Amazon.
Order Day Watch from Amazon.

Jeremy Lynch
For more reviews from myself, and the rest of the Crimespree crew, check out the index of reviews.