Day Watch is another feast for the senses
WITH his stylish 2004 blockbuster Night Watch (Nochnoi Dozor), the first instalment of a proposed trilogy adapted from the novel by Sergei Lukyanenko and Vladimir Vasiliev, Russian director Timur Bekmambetov shattered western expectations about post-Soviet cinema.
The ground-breaking fantasy horror was stylish and sexy, awash with state-of-the-art visual effects and eye-popping action sequences, not to mention the clever subtitles, seamlessly integrated into the live action (appearing from behind scenery, dissolving in water.)
The filmmaker, once feted as his country’s Tarantino, lived up to his billing. In Russia alone, Night Watch out-grossed spider-Man 2 and The Lord Of The Rings: The Return Of The King at the box office.
Now comes the eagerly sequel Day Watch (Dnevnoi Dozor), continuing the story of Anton Gorodetsky (Konstantin Khabensky), an agent of the forces of light who is embroiled in a centuries-old war with the Dark Others on the streets of modern day Moscow.
Anton’s young son Egor (Dima Martynov), one of the fabled Great Others, has been recruited by the forces of darkness and is hell-bent on destroying his father.
Meanwhile, Svetlana (Mariya Poroshina) - the legendary Virgin who is cursed to bring havoc and misery - continues to make sense of her immense powers under Anton’s guidance.
“The gloom is no place for a trainee,” he warns Svetlana, referring to a parallel, otherworldly plane.
“I’m ready,” she insists.
“Trust me, you’re not,” he replies coldly.
They enter the race to find the Chalk of Fate, a magical artefact lost hundreds of years ago, which could save mankind from annihilation.
Meanwhile, Anton must also clear his name, having been falsely accused of murder.
General Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitsky) and his vampire hordes of the Night Watch are determined to see his blood flow.
They know full well that Anton is innocent - “At the time of the murder, Anton was breaking into the archives. He has an alibi!” - but his death will shift the balance of power in their favour, and set up a clash between Egor and the light’s Great Other.
Day Watch is another feast for the senses, with dazzling visuals, culminating in an outrageous showdown with the decimation of great swathes of the Russian capital.
Even if you’ve seen the first film, making sense of the sequel is tricky to say the least. It romps through the convoluted plot at breakneck speed despite the 131 minute running time. Style triumphs over substance and clarity, leaving as many questions unanswered as it poses.
The second film neatly ties up many of the loose ends, rendering the third film, Dusk Watch, almost obsolete.
Perhaps that’s no bad thing.
Star rating H H H