Monday, June 11, 2007

Movie Review: Day Watch

"Day Watch" is the second of a trilogy of Russian movies. The first was "Night Watch".

"Night Watch" or "Nochnoi Dozor". Is described as a Russian vampire flick, but that's selling it short. It's like making a movie about me and saying it's a film about a guy with a goatee.
Long ago a virgin (innocent) was cursed. Everywhere she went things died. Family, friends, strangers, puppies, everything. Before she died her curse brought forth The Others. There are Light Others and Dark Others. Hundreds of years ago they made a truce. The Night Watch are the Light Others who enforce certain behavior in the Dark Others and the Day Watch are the opposite.
12 years ago one of the central characters went to one of the Dark Others to get his wife back. His wife had left him for someone else and the Dark Other told him his wife was pregnant with this other guy's child. She was going to get the woman back and abort the fetus, but this was against the truce and the Light Ones stopped her. But during the struggle the guy who lost his wife discovered he was one of the Others, too.
Now it's 12 years later. A Dark Other has taken a bride and called some kid for her to eat. The kid is rescued, the Dark Other accidently killed, and the vampire bride got away. While hunting down the kid to protect him the Day Watch found a woman with a vortex over her head. She is the prophecied return of the cursed woman who will bring about the apocalypse.
The kid turns out to be the son of the guy from the beginning of the movie. The guy whose girlfriend left him. The son is a very powerful Other that is prophesied to break the truce and win the war. What happened to him twelve years ago was manipulated by the Dark Others to make the kid join their side.

"Day Watch" summarizes all of that in English before getting into the movie and switching back to Russian.
The boy is a Day Watch vampire and is running around killing people. The woman with the vortex is another powerful Other being trained by the boy's father for the Night Watch. If she and the boy ever meet it'll bring about the end of the world. The leader of the Day Watch is convinced that his forces can win in a battle so he's trying to get the truce broken by the Night Watch. He frames the boy's father for a few murders of Day Watch people and demands that he be turned over for execution. Knowing it's a setup, the Night Watch hides him.
The boy's father has evidence that his son has been doing unlicensed murders and has been hiding evidence. He's also falling for vortex girl, who he's been training. But there's no dating of trainees. So the movie has this forbidden love story element heaped upon the love of the father and son on opposite sides of a war and the two people trying to fight for his affection.
Enter "The Chalk of Fate". It's a piece of chalk that can change history, but only your history. Not as big of a story point as I expected, but it's key to the deus ex machina that undoes both movies. I don't know how the third movie is supposed to work.

There should be an award for subtitles just so these movies can win. If you get the DVD for the first movie you can have almost any language and any subtitles you want. Flip the disk and you can get the original theatrical version with the cool subtitles.
The subtitles behave differently for a monologue or a conversation. When someone knocks on the door the words pulse. When talking about something that gets thrown across the room the words go with it. If the audio is from a TV the subtitles appear on the TV. If the audio is from a radio with static the words flicker. They wipe away as people or things pass in front of them. In the first movie when the hungry vampire woman talks her words start white, then turn red, then drift away like drops of blood in the water.

I got the first on DVD and I'll get the second. It's an action movie, not horror.

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