| The Red Right Hand
Set one year after the events of Night Watch, it quickly becomes clear that little has changed. The final battle draws ever closer, Anton [Khabensky] has found himself training Svetlana [Poroshina] and Anton's son, Yegor [Dmitry Martynov], is still under the influence of the leader of the Dark Others, Zavulon [Verzhbitsky]. As with the first film, there is an incredible amount going on and not a lot of opportunity to take it all in and the books are once again alluded to but not loyally followed. During Night Watch's Western release, a clear divide could be seen; there were those who enjoyed it, seeing it as a clever, original piece set in a relatively underexposed city; and those who saw it as a convoluted, flashy Russian attempt to catch up with Hollywood . As a fan of the books, I was in the former; however, as a fan of the books, I must confess that a lot has been glazed - the biggest example being the magical elements, which director Bekmambetov has completely removed. There are flaws and negative points to be illustrated but to be brutally honest, you can hang the lot of them because a large portion of the film is set in-and-around the hotel I stayed in last November.
If you would like a back story of the previous film, have a read of my review. One thing is clear though, almost nothing is mentioned of the previous events; we are expected to have seen the first film, before this one. The opening sequence of this film tells the legend of the Chalk of Fate - a small stick of hexagonal chalk that can alter the writer's destiny - and how it was captured by Tamerlane. Some six hundred years later, we learn that Svetlana (the Vortex lady, from the first film) is currently being tutored by Anton. It would appear that the original prophecy could have been misread; everyone believes Anton's son, Yegor has the potential to become the great destroyer but it would appear that Svetlana is demonstrating powers beyond her supposed capability. Running alongside this plot are two sub-plots, one involving a series of murders, framing Anton and the other is the love-interest developing between Anton and Svetlana. Things are still as cryptic as ever and the abundance of Russian humour, wordplay and immense product placement is quite overwhelming and may be lost on a large portion of Western audiences. The sequel runs over twenty minutes longer than the original and demonstrates a great deal of impressive CGI but stumbles when it comes to character development. A relationship develops between Alisa [pop-singer Zhanna Friske] and Anton's vampire neighbour, Kostya [Aleksei Chadov] which seems a little random, rushed and incredibly forced. The acting is pretty well-done but the plausibility seems far fetched.
I think it's fair to say that at this point I am only really addressing Night Watch fans. This is very much a film for fans of Slavic culture and if you liked the first one, chances are, you'll enjoy this one too. Due to characters condemned to the back-burner (Bear [Aleksandr Samojlenko] is hardly in this feature), a large portion of fan-favourites have been neglected. To be honest, this is evidential in most trilogies but I can see it being a point that certain fans will have issues with. Having said that, the first film ended on a rather odd note, not really concluding much but blatantly obvious that a sequel is well on the way; this was a point that a lot of viewers raised as confusing and irritating. This film ends on more of a concluded note but with the movie now rather different from the book, I'm not sure how the third instalment will play out; not dissimilar to the Bourne Ultimatum. As far as I am concerned, this is a fantastic film that furthers and enhances the original and sets the audience up for the third piece.
US - 1st July 2007
UK - 5th October 2007
The Scene To Look Out For:
I have selected two for you. Both highlighted for their sheer ludicrousness: Anton is suspected of murder and is forced to switch bodies with Olga [Tyunina]. Whilst staying with Svetlana, Anton can't help but reveal his identity to her... whilst she's in the shower. This leads to a really, really cheesy scene as Olga forces her way into the shower and kisses Svetlana. As they kiss, Svetlana demonstrates her powers and transports them to some rainforest, shampoo commercial location. She's still starkers and he's wearing a dress; the whole thing was ridiculous and had me giggling throughout - I don't know if that was intentional but there you go. The second is another odd scene, showing how much Kostya's father loves his son. Whilst in a small back room of their house, Kostya offers to wash his father's trousers... despite him still wearing them. Both laughing, Kostya proceeds to remove his dad's trousers. The whole thing is a little odd and an example of Russian elements lost in translation - you can't help but think to yourself, 'This all seems very wrong.'
Hmm, the useless, pointless parrot? I think not. I kinda liked the judges -what little we see of them- but I think I'm going to go with Anton again. He just demonstrates a lot of potential as both a character and actor; despite the plot flaws and cultural miss-fires.
"Once, a colleague of the Night Watch got into trouble. He broke the agreement and when his destruction seemed imminent.. a girl stood up for him."
In A Few Words:
"A worthy sequel to Night Watch that delivers enough to satisfy fans but will leave them wanting more"