Sunday, October 3, 2010
Nomad, the Warrior
So I'm in the grocery store, looking at a selection of DVDs on an endcap between the cereal aisle and the cookie aisle (don't tell me these people don't understand product placement) when I pick up this movie with a guy holding a sword while screaming at some sort of army in the background. Looks promising. I turn the case over to read the synopsis and notice the movie is in two languages. English. And Kazakh.
Having spent some time in Kazakhstan, I'm sold. It could have been a terrible movie, and I would have bought it simply because as I read the credits more closely, it was produced in Kazakhstan. Fortunately, it wasn't a horrible movie. It wasn't as great as it could have been, but it wasn't horrible. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
The movie is set in 18th centurty Kazakhstan, where the nomadic Kazakh tribes, split into fueding factions by the typical greed and desire for power, are being slowly defeated by the Mongol Jungars. Enter Oraz (Jason Scott Lee), who is some sort of an Obi-Wan figure, a warrior mystic respected by all the tribes, who is searching for a prophesied child who will become a warrior to unite and deliver the Kazakh tribesmen from their enemies. The Jungars (often spelled Dzunghars) are lead by Galdan (Dokshan Zholzhaksynov) and his evil henchman General Sharish (Mark Dacascos). Oraz manages to rescue the child, son of the sultan of Turkestan, just before his mother and the rest of their caravan are slaughtered by Sharish and his men, who are seeking to destroy the child and prevent fulfillment of the prophecy. Oraz manages to convince the boy's father to let him raise the child to fulfill the prophecy. Even though the savior is supposed to be the son of a sultan and a direct descendant of Genghis Kahn, I kept wondering why Oraz simply didn't do the job himself. Oraz proceeds to take one child from each of the Kazakh tribes and raises a brotherhood of freedom fighters.
Once the boys have grown, Mansur (Kuno Becker), the prophesied one, and his best friend Erali (Jay Hernandez) fall for the same girl, Hocha, which complicates things and ends up driving a good portion of the plot. Meanwhile Galdan has discovered that he didn't kill the prophesied child after all. Sharish and his army lay siege to Turkestan. I'm not sure where these scenes were shot, but it wasn't Turkestan. There are too many hills outside the citiy. Turkestan is on a plain. I know; I've been there. The picture below was taken in November, 2004, and shows the main surviving structure. As you can see, no hills. But that's a minor point that most Americans wouldn't be aware of.