Movie Reviews: Mongol Wednesday April 24, 2024 EDT 
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Mongol Sep 29, 2009


Released also as: Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan (UK)
Rating: star star star star star (5 stars out of 5)
Release Date: 2007
Cast: Tadanobu Asano (as Temudjin) and Honglei Sun (as Jamukha)
Director: Sergei Bodrov
Genre: Biography (Genghis Khan), Drama, Action
Run Time: 126 minutes

I had no idea this movie exists, but while reading up on Kazakhstan, I learned it ventured on this movie to redeem itself from the not-so-tasteful lingering public impression left by the movie Borat. On the box office, I heard this movie bombed. But I have always been fascinated by Genghis Khan, even as a gradeschooler. I'm glad I bothered to watch this movie, specially since it probably will never get to be seen in mainstream movie houses.

Temudjin's (Genghis Khan) father dies after being poisoned. His father's 2nd in command, Targutai, attempts to kill Temudjin after taking over the clan. Temudjin escapes and forges an alliance with Jamukha. They later had to do battle to gain control of the Mongol nation. The movie ends shortly before Temudjin, now Genghis Khan, sets out for his world conquest.

Balanced Movie
This movie is a romanticized version of a warlord who galvanized a nation of feuding tribes into a single nation that set about conquering half the world. But the movie has its own narrative appeal as it capitalizes on the backdrop of the rich Mongolian Steppe, the intimate relationship of Temudjin and Jamukha, his wife Borte and his vision of a united Mongolian nation. The movie is well balanced as it developed the characters, depicted the battle scenes (not as brutal and gory as you might think of the Mongol hordes' onslaught), underscored the human sensitivity amongst the players and seamlessly developed the continuity of plot.

   Mongols need laws. I will make them obey...even if I have to kill half of them.
-- Genghis Khan

Historical Accuracy
I don't know about its historical accuracy. In popular accounts, Jamukha chose to have his back broken instead when he was captured. In this movie, Temudjin, simply let Jamukha go away. I'm not also sure if he actually spared the Buddhist temples out of gratitude to the monk who helped him look for his wife. Consistent though with historical accounts is how his wife Boret helped in shaping the destiny of Temudjin.

Benevolent Warlord
Temudjin is depicted as a benevolent lord who knew how to repay his debt of gratitude. He gave 100 horses to the old man who fed him as a prisoner, took only 10% of the plunder and distributed the rest to his men, spared the Buddhist temples from burning to the ground...not exactly the brutal barbarian who butchered millions and burned cities to the ground.

Ending Thoughts
I really liked this movie. I like it so much I even watched a few more Genghis Khan movies - but so far this one is the most engaging. If you like action adventure biographies with well developed characters...and willing to suspend historical accuracies, you'd be hard pressed to miss this one.

This movie also tells me I can't rely on box-office success as a benchmark for good movies.

--- TheLoneRider

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Reader Comments:

DennisDennis Lopez
(May 25, 2010) I have this on DVD.

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