Night Watch

Starring: Konstantin Khabebsky, Vladimir Menshov and Valeri Zolotukhin
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
RRP: 19.99
Certificate: 15
Available 24 April 2006

In this dark apocalyptic tale of a perpetual battle between light and dark, light being the human race and dark being a race of monsters, this film is the first of three in a trilogy. Russian director Timbor Bekmambetov adapts
Night Watch from the series of sci-fi novels by Sergei Lukyanenko...

Unless you've paid no attention to the film press in the last year, you should at least have heard of this film. It was mightily successful on its run in homeland Russia and enjoyed equal success around the world. It has been championed my movie magazines and even top name directors (Quentin Tarantino). But this still beggars the question of is it any good? I mean it cost just over $4 million to make, has a first time director and a completely unknown cast. Well, here is the plot and see what you think:

Many thousands of years ago there was a huge battle between good and evil. The leaders of the two armies soon discovered that they were a pretty even match, so they decided to call a truce. There were, of course, conditions to this truce and one of these was that each side would use agents to keep an eye on the opposing side. The good side have the night watch. They prowl the streets at night, keeping an eye out for any trouble from the bad side. And for the flip side, we have the day watch. These are agents of evil who keep an eye on the good guys to make sure they don't step out of line.

The whole film is very rich and deep and has a sort of "blink and you will miss it" thing going on. It has a certain vibe about it that makes it a vampire film but not a regular one though. This is one crazy film and a few sittings may be needed to take it all in. But the best thing is, is that you won't mind watching it more than once. It is that good. Saying that, the fight at the beginning looks a bit ropey and some of the CGI could of been a bit better, but for $4 million, this is a masterpiece. It has everything that you could want in a movie of this genre: nasty agents of evil, clever plot, a protagonist who makes you laugh (although, I'm not sure he is supposed to) and action. I can't imagine who wouldn't want to watch this film.

In this two-disc DVD release you have the option of watching a dubbed version or a subtitled version. So for all those people who either struggle with subtitles or are just too lazy to read them then you can watch an ok dubbed version. I'd suggest watching the subtitled version though, as the subtitles actually become part of the film - they flow around the screen and change colour and shape. It might sound distracting, but it works and makes the film that much more interesting.

Special features include an audio commentary with the director; deleted scenes; Making of featurette; poster gallery and a preview of the trilogy.

All in all this is a pretty good package. Just to let you know however, the sequel (Day Watch) will be hitting our shores soon. It did a storming trade at the Russian box office and I highly recommend you go see it when it gets a cinema release. Or, if you have a multi-region DVD player then you can import the DVD from Russia. But, in the meantime go and buy, or at least rent, Night Watch. I can pretty much say that you won't have seen anything quite like it.

Simon Lee

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