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PHOTOGRAPHY

NIGHT WATCH (NOCHNOI DOZOR)

DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 114 minutes, director's commentary, text commentary, alternate ending with optional commentary, and sneak peek at Day Watch

STUDIO: FOX Searchlight/ Channel One Russia

RELEASE DATE: 6-20-2006

NIGHT WATCH (aka NOCHNOI DOZOR) is a nice surprise. I just wonder why it didn't take the USA by storm at theaters. It will find it's audience on DVD.

The forces of Light and Darkness went to war. The Light Others and Dark Others called a truce. Gesser is the head of the Light Others while Zavulon schemes as the leader of the Dark Others. Zavulon wants another war and he is planning to bring it about. The Light Others watch the Dark Others through Night Watch while the other side has their police force, Day Watch. In the middle of this brewing war is Anton, a Light Other who can see the future. He is teamed up with Olga, who was an owl for 60 years as punishment for a crime she did.

The event that threatens to bring about a new war soon is a 12 year old boy, Yeagor, being lured by two vampires. Anton kills the male vampire while the female escapes. To add to Night Watch's problem, a woman has been cursed and is causing a vortex to open.  Don't forget a prophecy is mentioned about an Other who will switch sides and he will determine the fate of the next war between the Light and the Dark.

NIGHT WATCH is a beginning to a new universe and the seeds for the plot are laid down and a second viewing will see how certain events foreshadow later things in the plot. It is one of the best new starts to a film series I have seen since UNDERWORLD. I like that sword coming out of Zavulon's spine. I wish the film did flesh out the members of Day Watch. NIGHT WATCH has a universe that is hidden within a place like ours except it has vampires, witches, shape shifters, and seers.  The people at Night Watch are like regular people in a way except they are trying to make sure the truce isn't broken by the other side.   It brings a humanity to the characters.   Anton  even makes a big mistake that he has to live it due to where it leads to.  Will Zavulon take advantage of this?   Yes, he will.  Anton is an imperfect hero that might not be fit for the job.   I would love to see the actors in this film in other movies (note- release more Russian films to DVD in the USA).  NIGHT WATCH is a film that has action, emotion, and a few surprises even when they are foreshadowed (they will kick you in the head still).   It's not a big surprise why this film is a hit in Russia and the sequel is one too.

VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)

Nice transfer. Nice image detail.

AUDIO: English 5.1 Dolby Surround, French DS, Spanish DS, Russian 5.1 Dolby Surround (for movie on side B)

Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

The english dub and Russian 5.1 tracks are good. Watch the Russian version to see how they integrate the subtitles with the movie. It's rather cool.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Unless you're afraid of spoilers for the sequel, avoid director Timur Bekmambetov's audio commentary (which is in English) on side B (with the Russian version of the film). It has a few insights, but it is just an average commentary. You can also play the text commentary (in English, French, or Spanish) by Sergei Lukyanenko, the author of the novel (that the movie is based on), at the same time and still read the subtitles from the film itself. The director's track is better.

The alternate ending (with optional director commentary) even though it goes on for too long. The Night Watch trilogy preview shows some behind-the-scenes footage of the sequel, but it is just too short and I think a proper trailer for the sequel would have been better (or the documentary on the making of NIGHT WATCH which is on the Region 2 release in the UK). I'm smelling double dip with this movie.

FINAL ANALYSIS: If you haven't seen NIGHT WATCH, go rent it now or buy the DVD. I can't wait until FOX Searchlight releases DAY WATCH (the sequel).

this review is (c)6-11-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link to the review). Look for additional content at http://enterlinemedia.livejournal.com and send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com