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_**The Origins of the Great Khan**_ As a boy, I had a bit of a fascination with Genghis Khan (meaning Great King) and even drew a picture of him titled, naturally, "Temujin," his actual name. I don't know what it was that attracted me; likely his cool-sounding title and world-conquering exploits. With the exception of Iron Maiden's great instrumental, "Genghis Khan," that ended my flirtation with this historical figure. That is, until I saw the Russian-made "Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan" (2007) yesterday. As the title suggests, the film explores Temujin's origins and what led to him becoming the great king of the Mongols and world-terrorizer. Despite being a foreign film with subtitles the movie successfully pulled me into its world and characters. The Mongols on the vast Asian steppes lived similar to American plains Indians. I've seen numerous photos of Mongols living on the steppes with their yurts, etc. over the years, but I could never relate to them as people. Just as, say, "Dances With Wolves" made American Natives come alive to the viewer so this film does with Mongols. "Mongol" eschews the American "blockbuster" syndrome and simply tells the story of Temujin from his early boyhood to his crowning as the great Khan. Although there's a steady amount of action throughout, there are a lot of quiet lulls with Temujin calmly waiting-out his various imprisonments and seeking Tengri, the god of the blue skies. Regardless, I found myself drawn into the characters and simple story. I liked the fact that a monk was able to "see" Temujin's greatness and future world-conquering potential even though he was only a lowly slave, which others understandably couldn't see. I also liked the low-key commentary on people choosing their leaders and forsaking the less worthy, and the resulting strife, as well as the focus on Temujin's many quiet times in the wilderness seeking the Divine for wisdom and power to walk in his greatness and fulfill his dream, not that I'm suggesting Genghis Khan was God-ordained, of course. The lead actors are all great, especially Honglei Sun as Jamukha, Temujin's "brother" and then greatest enemy in Mongolia. Despite all this, people who require constant eye-rolling action and explosions will likely find "Mongol" boring. Speaking of "constant eye-rolling action," this was the very thing that ruined the 2011 version of "Conan the Barbarian" with Jason Momoa, who was excellent in the role. That film needed more downtime, realism and depth, similar to the original 1982 version (not that that version didn't have its share of cartoony-ness), the filmmakers instead pushed for overkill action with minimal dramatic weight. The result? A mediocre Conan flick that looked great but was ultimately too shallow and goofy, in the "action-packed blockbuster" sense. Interestingly, "Mongol" reminded me of John Milius' version of "Conan" and of Robert E. Howard's Conan in general, albeit without the sorcery. I believe if the 2011 remake of "Conan" shot for the realism and seriousness of "Mongol," as REH himself portrayed the character and the Hyborian Age, it would have been a more worthy Conan film. It goes without saying, if you like REH and Conan you'll probably appreciate "Mongol." The soundtrack is simple but effective, often just an eerie-sounding violin/cello, reminiscent of parts of "Apocalypse Now" (1979). I found it interesting that when the credits hit a great epic metal riff kicked in for a few bars before morphing into the expected Eastern-styled credits soundtrack. It was a pleasant surprise. The film runs 2 hours, 6 minutes, and was shot on the remote and godly landscapes of Inner Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan. GRADE: A-/B+
A group of heroic warriors has only six days to save the planet in "Mortal Kombat Annihilation." To succeed they must survive the most spectacular series of challenges any human, or god, has ever encountered as they battle an evil warlord bent on taking control of Earth.
As the son of a Viking leader on the cusp of manhood, shy Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III faces a rite of passage: he must kill a dragon to prove his warrior mettle. But after downing a feared dragon, he realizes that he no longer wants to destroy it, and instead befriends the beast – which he names Toothless – much to the chagrin of his warrior father.
When German knights invade Russia, Prince Alexander Nevsky must rally his people to resist the formidable force. After the Teutonic soldiers take over an eastern Russian city, Alexander stages his stand at Novgorod, where a major battle is fought on the ice of frozen Lake Chudskoe. While Alexander leads his outnumbered troops, two of their number, Vasili and Gavrilo, begin a contest of bravery to win the hand of a local maiden.
Set in the frozen steppes of Mongolia, a young nomad is confronted with his destiny after animals fall victim to a plague which threatens to eradicate nomadism.
A surreal adaptation of Sir Thomas Malory's "Le Morte d'Arthur", chronicling Arthur Pendragon's conception, his rise to the throne, the search by his Knights of the Round Table for the Holy Grail, and ultimately his death.
Leslie Zevo is a fun-loving inventor who must save his late father's toy factory from his evil uncle, Leland, a war-mongering general who rules the operation with an iron fist and builds weapons disguised as toys.
Ray Breslin manages an elite team of security specialists trained in the art of breaking people out of the world's most impenetrable prisons. When his most trusted operative, Shu Ren, is kidnapped and disappears inside the most elaborate prison ever built, Ray must track him down with the help of some of his former friends.
In the 1200s, a man arose whose ruthlessness was so feared, he emerged as the greatest empire builder ever known to mankind. Inspired by true historical events.
Robert Gould Shaw leads the US Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices of both his own Union army and the Confederates.
A fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States - Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines, where a woman who endured a range of abuse while working as a miner filed and won the landmark 1984 lawsuit.
In the summer of 1863, General Robert E. Lee leads the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia into Gettysburg, Pennsylvania with the goal of marching through to Washington, D.C. The Union Army of the Potomac, under the command of General George G. Meade, forms a defensive position to confront the rebel forces in what will prove to be the decisive battle of the American Civil War.