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Stars: Tadanobu Asano, Honglei Sun, Khulan Chuluun, Odnyam Odsuren, Amadu Mamadakov, Aliya

Director: Sergei Bodrov

If you like visceral epics with blood spurting all over the screen, then this Russian film about the arduous rise to power of Genghis Khan should thrill you with its battle scenes, full of stunning horsemanship and clangorous, bloody clashes.

Elsewhere, wobbly timelines that suggest a much longer original version, and uncertain casting prove distractions to the storyline, which varies considerably from the 1965 Hollywood version, shown recently on UK TV. Temudgin (Odsuren) endures a hard childhood after his father, a Mongolian tribal chief, is poisoned by a rival sect, shortly after he has taken the boy, then nine, to choose a bride according to custom.

Fourteen years pass and the role of the adult Temudgin passes to Japanese actor Asano, who is clearly in his late thirties, while the bride he now reclaims, played with captivating calmness by Chuluun, looks more like a teenager. Anyway, Temudgin survives an arrow through the heart with all the aplomb of a Hollywood western veteran, and sires a son, who appears to jump from infancy to young boyhood in what seems like the same sequence of events.

Subsequent developments see Temudgin pitted against his blood brother (Sun) before being sold into slavery. The film meanders a bit towards the end, but its production is hugely impressive, its plotline close to the best account of historical events, and the battle sequences as convincing as any modern action fan could want. Asano is strong in the title role, while Sun hams it up as the villain.

David Quinlan

Russia 2007. UK Distributor: The Works. Colour by Kodak.
125 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 01 Jun 2008