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Dzhanik Fayziev (with Ivan Shurkhovetskiy) have crafted a highly stylized fantasy historical-drama in Furious. With the help of cinematographer Maksim Osadchy’s complimentary color schemes, they have created an ornate 13th Century Russia that looks majestic and fairytale-like. Based on the historical invasion of Ryazan (Russia) by Batu Khan (the grandson of Genghis Khan), we follow the semi-amnesiac warrior Evpaty Kolovrat in his attempts to unify and salvage what’s left of his land and his people. The rich, mainly blue and orange tones enhance the snow, the foliage, and the architecture while wide-angle lenses and smart camera movements give life to the extensive (over 1900 shots) CG environments. The eye-candy extends past the decor, to the costume design and lead actor Ilya Malakov (as Kolovrat)’s pale blue eyes.

Kolovrat must defeat the Golden Horde. If you like fight scenes, there are battles aplenty. The sequences incorporate slow-motion, swords, and lots of clanking metal. Newcomer Malakov was injured during the shooting, but carried the warrior role into reality by insisting to continue after a quick surgical touchup to his broken arm.

It must be said that authenticity in scenery and costumes has been blurred with make-believe. Do not expect fully realistic period clothing, or extreme accuracy in Batu Khan’s glamorous eyeshadow. Some of the attire definitely incorporates Mongolian relics, and a lot of research has gone into the artifacts, adornment and materials. But we must also recall that this is a fantasy version of lived events. Ancient and modern come together with realism and invention. The ensemble is meant to be eye-pleasing and theatrical.

The Mongols besiege Ryazan to a dynamic orchestral type of score by Serj Tankian of System of a Down, with occasional vocals by Katya Ivanchikova. At times we can hear that rock edge the composer is known for. The drama is in place, while the uplifting parts fit well with whatever is taking place on screen. Tankian himself even accompanies Ivanchikova in A Fine Morning to Die, which runs over the end credits.

The one thing that might hinder the film’s reception is the unfortunately archaic dialogue in the English dubbing. This particularly affects the first half of the film. It might elicit a few chuckles here or there, because the translation feels hokey and a little overly theatrical. Likely, the original Russian dialogue is free of such burden so that the viewer can better connect with the characters’ emotions and motives. That said, one gets used to this as the story progresses. It becomes a slight quirk rather than diminishing the tale’s merits. Overall, Furious is an interesting take on historical events. It shows what a perceived ‘ordinary guy’ (with of course, partial amnesia hindering his day to day existence) can achieve, and how that can turn him into a hero.

 

Furious hits select Canadian cinemas April 20th, 2018 (English dubbed version)

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