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Director:Sergei Bodrov
Release Date:2008

By Cole Haddon | Posted 6/18/2008

Mongol, the story of the rise of Genghis Khan, wants desperately to be a historical epic as romantic, violent, and ultimately moving as Braveheart. You can see these aspirations in every shot, but its meandering, anti-climactic story arcs and an unrealized main character handicap the movie from early on.

Tadanobu Asano plays Temudgin, the man who will become known as Genghis. His father, a great khan (clan leader), was assassinated when he was 9, and Temudgin has been on the run ever since because the traitors who replaced his father would have his head. When he finally returns, like William Wallace, it is to reclaim his true love, Börte (Khulan Chuluun), whom he hasn't seen since he chose her to be his wife the day his father was killed. Temudgin might finally have happiness, but then the tribe that his father stole his mother from comes to exact vengeance; Temudgin is almost killed and Börte is kidnapped. It takes a year for Temudgin and his blood brother Jamukha (Honglei Sun), also a khan, to go to war to get Börte back, and when they find her, she's pregnant with her kidnapper's baby. Temudgin, who so loves his wife, immediately accepts the child as his own, even though this isn't the Mongol way.

Temudgin, who has spent so many years without a master, cannot accept living under Jamukha, even though he loves his brother dearly. When he leaves, many of Jamukha's men, who believe Temudgin will better share spoils, leave with him--this is the Mongol way, apparently. Jamukha eventually hunts Temudgin and his new clan down, and slaughters most of them. Temudgin is sold into slavery and taken thousands of miles away to spend several years sitting in a prison cell, waiting for Börte, who sleeps her way across the desert to come to his rescue. When Börte arrives, she has a second child not his, and Temudgin--who, you know, so loves his wife--immediately accepts the child as his own. This relationship is so unique and practical considering their tumultuous lives, it's hard not to appreciate this otherwise empty love story.

After escaping prison, Temudgin decides he must unite all Mongol clans. No specific reason is given for this, except he likes the sound of the Mongol language and thinks it should be spoken everywhere. The movie inexplicably jumps ahead to the great battle that will, in fact, unite the Scots--er, the Mongols. Jamukha is on one side, Temudgin and his crafty strategies on the other. The result is a resolution that means nothing to audiences because the audience has no idea why it means anything to their hero, no matter how cool he looks in his new armor.

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