At the end of 1918 while civil war is raging on in Russia, antagonism is slowly spreading to the East, between the Oural mountains and Shanghai. Stuck between a desire to save what's left ... See full summary »
At the end of 1918 while civil war is raging on in Russia, antagonism is slowly spreading to the East, between the Oural mountains and Shanghai. Stuck between a desire to save what's left of the great Imperial Russia, and starting from a clean slate, old generals, secret organizations, and mercenaries attracted by gold, struggle to take advantage of the events. As Corto Maltese returns to Shanghai, he barely gets time to cross paths with his old friend/nemesis Raspoutine, and escape a murder attempt before being contacted by members of a Chinese secret organization called "The Red Lanterns". In the heart of violent Mandchourian horizons, Corto and Raspoutine launch themselves into a fabulous treasure hunt, following the tracks of the mysterious armor-plated train of Koltchak. A steel monster spiked with canons and machine guns, this trains protects the counter-revolutionaries gold, traveling through Mongolia, and! Mandchouria. While following the bloody trail of this doomed train, ... Written by
This is a movie that promises a lot from the start: A collision of Russian, continental European and various Asian cultures, political intrigue, James Bond-style antics, religion, martial arts and romance. But in the end, it turns out as a story about... a train robbery. However, it's a wild ride that won't have you looking away from the screen for a second-unless you shy away at occasional violence and nudity...
It has to be one of the most visually interesting animated movies ever, not because of the quality and amount of work put in it, which is somewhat below the best Disney productions, but because of how it's used. From the stunning opening shots to the "fantastic-ized" outdoor enviroments, the varied and effectively (un)lit indoor scenes and the buildings, to the creatively directed character interactions, there's barely a few scenes at all that one could imagine being done with live actors at all!
This movie is true example of animation as an art form, not reducing itself to an imitation of the real life. No matter what you think about the character designs, which are somewhat stiff, all of them have significant, peculiar mannerisms that would be unthinkable to realize with actors. This attitude, both "retro" and reinventive, is exactly what is needed against the trend of "hyper-realistic" animation that has become prominent in recent years.
The other point of this movie is the MUSIC-an absolutely sparkling musical score that sets the perfect mood for each and every scene, except for a overly melodramatic build-up in the epilogue. It's one of the few movie soundtracks that i would try and find and listen to on it's own, because whenever it is heard it really stands out.
I recommend anyone interested in creative visuals as found in Japanese films (though certainly not Japanese animation!) to try and see this movie at least once, for the sake of the infinitely creative visual language. European animation is alive and well, certainly, just hope they find a better story for next one...
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