Nomad: The Warrior (2005)
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The story is stilted, giving it a sense that it was thrown together simply to make a "cool" movie that "looks" great. Not to mention that many of the main characters are not from the region in which this story takes place (and it's blatantly obvious with names like Lee and Hernandez). If movie makers want to engross us in a culture like the Jugars and the Kazaks, they damn well better use actors/actresses that look the part.
Warring tribes, a prophecy, brotherly love and respect, a love interest that separates our "heroes", are all touched on but with so little impact and screen time that most viewers will brush them aside in favor of the next battle sequence, the next action horse scene, or the breathtaking beauty of the landscape.
It is worth mentioning that there were some significant changes made to Nomad during its filming, specifically the director and cinematographer. Ivan Passer (director) was replaced by Sergei Bodrov, and Ueli Steiger (cinematographer) was replaced by Dan Laustsen. In one respect, Laustsen seems to have the better eye since his visions of the lands made the final cut that we see here. Definitely a good thing. However, the changing over to Bodrov as director may not have been the wisest choice. From what I'm seeing here, the focus is on the battles and not the people, which I sense comes from Bodrov's eyes and not Passer's. A true travesty.
The most shameful aspect is that this could've been a really fantastic film, with both character and action focuses. Unfortunately, the higher-ups apparently decided that action was what was needed and took the cheap (intellectually speaking) way out.
Even though I can't give this film a positive rating, it is worth watching simply for the amazing cinematography work. But that's all.
Like so many other similar flicks, Nomad deals with a tyrant, the people he's been tormenting for years, and a "chosen one" who will eventually dethrone him. When he first hears of this, the cruel dictator orders that this child be found and immediately killed. Naturally, the attempt fails, and the boy is raised in a remote village by an old, wise father figure, a character clearly based on the Merlin/Gandalf/Obi-Wan Kenobi blueprint. As the years pass, our hero, named Mansur (Kuno Becker), becomes a skilled warrior, perfectly capable of leading his rebellious countrymen in battle against the evil monarch. While preparing for the conflict, Mansur also has to deal with his feelings for a girl and the effects said romance is having on his lifelong friendship with Erali (Jay Hernandez), a man willing to do anything for his country and, most importantly, his leader and best friend.
The themes explored in epics are generally love, loyalty and freedom, and Nomad covers all of them them in a competent but predictable way: anyone who's ever seen this kind of movie will have no trouble figuring out how the various subplots, not to mention the big picture in itself, are going to end. But while it isn't exactly fresh, Nomad is a respectable film, its main quality lying in the visuals: the battle scenes are as great and gorgeous as in a Ridley Scott film, and the same should be said of the numerous shots concerning the eye-popping landscapes. In fact, with so much beautiful imagery (although a bit more violent than the average Hollywood blockbuster), it's a bit weird not to find the Blade Runner director's name among the executive producers, which do however include Milos Forman (the man behind the fabulous Amadeus).
So, as usual, style prevails over content, but when it looks so good, why complain? Nomad is a piece of pure, simple, unadulterated fun; that's why I liked it, and the reason genre fans should embrace it as well.
So on to the movie.
The action was hit and miss. Some was absolutely wonderful, hold your breath type stuff,that generally was the one on one battles, some looked a bit weak. That said, this movie is no 300, relying strictly on action sequences to carry it. It had a great story to carry it along, some fantastic acting and beautiful sets. All in all a very watchable movie if you put aside the fact most of the characters where not of the ethnic background they represented. I had no problem putting that aside and just enjoying a great action/history flick for what it is: entertainment.
I don't think that this movie truly exposes the theme of Kazak nomads and their 300-year struggle against Jongar (Oirat) aggressors. I'm quite disappointed here.
But for non-Kazaks, the movie can make a whole different impression. They may like it a lot, because of the 'freshness' of Central-Asian nomadic theme in the international cinema.
Let's wait for the American (international) version of the movie. I believe it will be in some ways different from the Kazak version.
P.S. For those in Kazakstan, I recommend to watch old Kazak-Soviet movies like "Batyr Bayan", "Jawshy" (Gonets), and "Qyz Jibek". These are one of the few movies that truly show the essence of Kazak nomadism and Kazak-Jongar wars.
Filming locations seemed really great, like LOTR - The Two Towers without any need for CGI! As for rating/violence, it could have almost been PG13 in the US, but I liked this fact. It was a clean-ish film that likens back to the spaghetti western. No over-the-top violence, sex, swearing, or embellishing for the sake of a Hollywood audience. While this generally comes off slightly cartoonish, it was refreshing.
As for the language, I would swear that it seemed to be filmed in English and dubbed in Kazakh. In fact, I don't usually mind a dubbed movie (especially Spanish or Japanese for some reason), but half-way through this film, I realized there was an English audio track and switched it over, and I was more engaged.
The horse work was pretty amazing, I thought.
Again, overall, this film seemed to have all the filming quality of an expensive Hollywood movie, but brought a niceness that's less common in contemporary film (Note: guaranteed NOT to hold the attention of most American youth).
I spent the first hour waiting patiently for the movie to take off. It was horribly boring, and consisted mostly of people riding randomly around the hills with no apparent direction. Then the hero comes into the picture. Born as an Asian, but when he grew up, he became white. Obviously white. He wasn't even close to passing for Asian. He looked like Justin Timberlake. It was extremely distracting, and the story did nothing to help the cause. Pointless battle sequences and lame dialogue. It's an hour and forty five minutes long, and by the end I was trying to eat my own face. I watched this because people at the video store where I work are always asking me if this movie is any good. Now I have an answer. It goes something like this: ahem. "NO! GOOD GOD NO! IT'S HORRIBLE! DON'T DO THIS TO YOURSELF! I would recommend another movie, perhaps one that's entertaining."
I hope we see a lot more movies focusing on the less common historical periods and places. It is better to build on a movie like this and seek improvement than to tear it down over relatively minor drawbacks. The scenery alone is worth the cost of a rental.
Couldn't agree more on this.
My opinion on the movie itself: Regardless all the negative feedbacks, movie is not bad, BUT, the fact that leading roles were played by foreigner is SO disappointing. It's like they couldn't find good kazakh actors.How is it supposed to increase patriotic feelings among people of kazakhstan?? my friends refused to watch this movie due to this fact. Quality of the movie is very good. Music is startling(and some parts of it sounded so familiar). Some people may like, but it in no way made me feel proud for the movie.
By the way if you'd like to download the movie in Russian go to onefilm.ru they have two versions of the movie, the one that's DVDrip is of good quality.
The intentions were good, great locations and settings for a film of epic proportions. But the performance, damn! I swear, in some shots you can see extras on the background staring in the camera, or looking at the actors because no one told them what they should do when they hear "Action!". The battle scenes are so bad you wonder - are these people for real? They could've done more damage just by hugging each other. In the slow-mo scenes you can see people on battle field walking around or just standing, waving their hands.
Only action in the foreground is somehow emphasized. But for what? The story is so illogical and discontinuous, it seems like random situations in chronological order, sometimes not even that. The dialogs are dumb, the love plot is more embarrassing and ridiculous than in Hong Kong action movies.
With a budget of 40 million, and you can see every dollar invested on the screen, in best case scenario, the final result of all this enormous effort is a shiny round laser disk in the thin cover placed on the shelf in video store.
The story line: it seems the actual historic events were simplified and more touchy personal lines added (as in Troy) to make it more appealing to general viewing population. Also, I hear English subtitles skipped 2/3 of the actual text and even what remained didn't do justice to the original dialogue, with sucks for those of us who don't understand Kazakh. Still, even with this handicap, I was able to enjoy it immensely.
Overall, it is a very enjoyable, beautiful and gripping film with the double benefit of getting acquainted with a part of the world most of us are not familiar with.
The movie, itself is OK to watch. Just remember that it is a historic fiction movie.
Kazakhstan current has a very thrive industry of moviefilm production and has prove to world that has all the knowledges and facility need to make a blockbustering. Varied locations, beautiful scenery, and hardest working 7-year-olds in all Central Asia make this possible. And no need specials effects: battle scenes are made crushing real gypsys and Uzbekhis!
Weinstien CO. purchased this film and had the director add more action and a deeper love story. The love story is lame and the action is even lamer. This movie is a huge dissapointmant.
If you want a foreign movie thats like Gladiator/Braveheart, then get Musa the Warrior. Nomad is crap.