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By the Will of Genghis Khan (2009)

by on 2012/02/25

“You are a tribe of atheists and barbarians.”

* *

Sometimes I make silly, ill-informed purchase decisions.

Case in point, I once bought a talking Spongebob cookie jar – one that says classic Spongebob lines like, “I feel empowered” when you flip his little Krusty Crab hat. Perhaps, more accurately, I bought a defective Spongebob cookie jar that talks even when there is no one anywhere near it – typically very late at night after I’ve watched a particularly bracing Criminal Minds.

I purchased By the Will of Genghis Khan at a nearby Walmart at a fourth circle of hell suburban  mall. I had very recently watched the sublime Mongol and was desperate for the promised sequel which was due out, at the time, in 2010. 

When I spotted By the Will of Genghis Khan directed by Andrei Borissov, I thought I had found the sequel at last.

Mongol was a moving painting of a film by Sergei Bodrov released in 2007. Watching it was akin to a religious experience, and I am an atheist.

Borissov… Bodrov. Ok, they aren’t even close. I make no excuses.

It didn’t take me long to figure out this wasn’t the sequel to Mongol –I think the Catholic monk yelling religious slogans and  wandering around the Mongol steppes was my first clue. Nor did it take me long to realize the outrageous full price I paid for this film was long, long gone with nothing to show for it.

I suppose that it is clear at this point that I didn’t much care for this film.

Maybe I should start with what I did like.  I thought the performance of Eduard Ondar as the elder Temujin, aka Genghis Khan, was just fine. Fine.

That concludes my list.

As for the rest of the film, quite frankly, I found it all very confusing. At times, I felt like I needed to build a little spreadsheet to keep track of who wore what kind of fur hat to figure out what was going on.

The combination of Russian dialogue, subtitles and lacklustre, sleepwalker performances didn’t help matters. A man with his neck on a chopping blocked looked bored and sleepy. Warriors going into battle were tugging at uncomfortable costumes and trying not to look at the craft services table.

At best, the battle scenes looked a little like a civil war re-enactment, where all the participants were tired, food poisoned and really wanted to go home. Or perhaps they were all just really put off by the monk yelling at them.

Yes, I know there was a small group of Christians in Genghis Khan’s empire but a flailing, flapping European monk speaking Latin, figuring heavily in the life of the Great Khan? No, I say, just no.

I demand a division of church and Khan.

At best, this film was a half-hearted Genghis Khan life action role play (LARP). No more, no less. And no, no, no monk.

* *

115 minutes

Rated PG14 for LARP-grade violence and special effects on par with your neighbours’ Halloween lawn decorations

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