Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor) Review
Written by: NecronT99
Night Watch is a visual overload of the senses, that is entertaining, but a bit confusing due to the cultural differences. The first part of a three film story, Night Watch has become one of Russia's highest grossing film to date. Based on the novels of Sergei Lukyanenko, Night Watch ( Nochnoi Dozor in Russian ) is the story of the policing of good and evil beings. Centuries ago good and evil came to a standstill in their battle. Each side realiizing that they were equaly matched, they came to a truce. The sides of good and evil would be balanced. To keep that balance their warriors would patrol each side ensuring that influences would not occur to upset this balance. The side of good patrols evil and is called the Night Watch. The side of evil is called appropiately the Day Watch.
The story itself centers on Anton who visits a witch to get back his girlfriend who has recently left him for another man. She informs Anton that his ex-girlfriend is pregnant with the other man's child. To get her back, Anton must agree to allow the witch to cause the baby to miscarriage, but Anton must take on the sin of killing the baby. Anton agrees and starts the ritual to cause his girlfriend to return. This process turns Anton into an " other ".
Before the baby can be killed the witch is stopped by the Night Watch. Anton, because had started the ritual can now see the NIght Watch. Because of this change he must now decide on what side to be on, good or evil.
The film fowards twelve years later to the present and we see that Anton is now working for the Night Watch. His mission is to find a young boy that is being hunted by a young vampire. This was due to Anton killing her lover accidentally durring a Night Watch arrest before the girl could feed for the first time.
While searching for the boy, Anton bumps into a girl that has a curse on her that will cause the re-start of the battle of good and evil. We also learn that as part of the curse, one " other " will be born that will be more powerfull than all the " others ". This being will then decide to chose good or evil. Whichever side he chooses, will unbalance the sides causing either good or evil to finally win the war.
Director Timur Bekmambetov does his best to obviously stuff a lot of material into one film. Although it may seem like a bit much, this is the set up for two other films. It's a lot to take in both story wise and visually, but it is not impossible to follow along.
The story line has been described as a cross of The Matrix, Underworld, Blade , Constantine and other big budget American films. Although the plot does involve vampies, and the battle of good and evil. Night Watch is not a copy of these films, it does seem to be influenced by the big budget American film style of this genre, but it takes it's own direction and has it's own mystique.
This is the most important point to think about before seeing Night Watch, Night Watch is not an American film. Because so, it will not have the tempo or movement of an American action film. This can appear to be a slow movie to an American audience.The reason being is that the film is trying to show plot and character delvelopment much more than just action. A film like this could of easily been all action with no substance. But by placing the focus on all the plotlines, this draws you into the stange world of the" others " and makes it an interesting place to be in.
Visually the film is beautiful and has a very creative use of subtitles. The subtitles bring a type of emotion and dramatic content to the translated words on screen. Words fade in and out, sometimes changing in color to reprsent possession or dramatic emotions. The effects are very well done and are a great example of how far technology has grown. The stylish look of great CGI effects is not just limited to big budget hollywood films anymore. I stongly suggest that you visit the Night Watch website first to learn a bit about Russian culture and their mythology. This greatly helped me me get more out of the film due to understanding the references the film was making. There is very little we understand about post cold war Russian culture. The web site gives you some of that background, so that it is easyer to understand locations that are very important to the story.
One quick point, to the plotline, curses in europe are taken much more seriously than here in the United States. The concept of a curse can have great effects on people including damning their souls. Our concept of a curse is just fantasy, but in many parts of europe they are still taken very seriously. The idea of Anton attempting to get his girlfriend back is a type of curse by Anton through the witch onto his ex-girlfriend's child. ( this concept is very important to the plotline )
This film is in very limited run right now and mostly can be found in art house theaters. But due to it's increasing popularity, the run is expanding.I strongly suggest that you find Night Watch and see a foreign film for a change. It won't dissapoint you and it will give you a look at a new direction in horror cinema. Night Watch was nominated for an Oscar in 2004 for foreign language film