Day Watch (Dnevnoy dozor)
- Reviewed by: Avril Carruthers
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Current Rating 9.5/10 | 4 Votes
Produced by Konstantin Ernst, Anatoli Maximov
Cast: Konstantin Khabensky, Mariya Poroshina, Vladimir Menshov, Galina Tyunina, Victor Verzhbitsky, Zhanna Friske, Dima Martynov, Valeriy Zolotukhin, Aleksey Chadov.
Day Watch is the second in the Russian horror fantasy trilogy based on the novels of Sergei Lukyanenko & Vladimir Vasiliev. The film has reaped double the box office takings of the hugely successful Night Watch which burst explosively onto Russian screens in 2004, the countryís first of that genre. The popularity both of the novels and these films of acclaimed director Timur Bekmambetov suggests a deep resonance with conflicting driving forces within the Russian character. The allegorical supernatural format is compelling and illuminating, with a fast pace and a profusion of spectacular stunts and special effects uncharacteristic of Russian cinema of the Soviet era, all set within a contemporary realism with which audiences may readily identify. While at times reminiscent of The Matrix, the films have a unique flavour.
Two races of immortals, Light and Dark, keep an uneasy truce. Living unseen alongside mortals in the decayed buildings and grimy streets of modern day
The current conflict between them is complicated by the actions 12 years ago of Light Other Anton (Konstantin Khabensky) which resulted in his son Egor (Dima Martynov) opting to join the Warriors of the Dark. Now Egor is recognised as a Great Dark Other, against whom the new recruit of the Night Watch Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) is shaping up as a Great Light Other. If the two meet in conflict, the truce will be over. Naturally, the Dark Others, led by the ice cold Zavulon (Victor Verzhbitsky) will use all means to trick Svetlana into fighting Egor, putting Anton into an even deeper dilemma. He is in love with Svetlana.
The two sides race to recover the Chalk of Destiny, lost for centuries from the tomb of Tamerlane, with which anyone can rewrite their fate. A sub-plot reflecting the father-son angst of Anton and Egor involves the Dark father (Valeriy Zolotukhin) of Kostya (Aleksey Chadov), who was forced to make his son a vampire to save his life, further echoes themes of betrayal and regret. Subtle incidental humour arises from Antonís and former Great Light Other Olgaís (Galina Tyunina) switching bodies to evade the pursuit of the Dark Warriors. An unexpected twist at the end creates a complete change of mood and curiosity about the third film of the trilogy, Dusk Watch, which is still in production.
The dark look of the film echoes Night Watch, since much of Day Watch was shot at the same time as the first film. Extraordinary CGI effects slightly overshadow the striking acting and the galloping pace seems at times overdone. Nevertheless, memorable performances by all, including Vladimir Menshov as Geser, leader of the Protectors of the Light, and Zhanna Friske as his wife Alisa create an entertaining impact.
© Avril Carruthers 30th August 2007
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