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Night Watch (DVD) & Day Watch (DVD)

Starring: Lots of Russian people speaking Russian. (Which is worth knowing. I was five minutes into the first one before I realised that they really weren't going to stop and I needed to find the 'Subtitles' button on my DVD remote.)

Rated: 15.

Story: The forces of Dark and Light have been holding an uneasy truce for a thousand years. 'Others' - those with supernatural abilities - live secretly amongst ordinary people, the two sides keeping watch over each other to make sure the ancient laws are adhered to.

In contemporary Moscow, Anton learns that he's a seer and becomes an agent of the Night Watch, a group of Light Others who police the darkness. He begins to learn that, as usual, Armageddon is approaching and it's all his fault...

Comments: This is an interesting pair of Russian films. And, yes, by 'interesting' I mean 'not that great but entertainingly odd if you feel like something a little different'. The story follows on directly from one to the other (without any kind of recap) so don't even try to watch them out of order.

Night Watch is a fairly low-key affair, introducing the world of the Others, their leaders and the tensions between the two sides. It's quite vague, though, and not entirely coherent. Day Watch is much slicker and ups the eye-candy with plenty of Matrix-like effects but these are often the moments where the film makes least sense. Characters seem to occasionally develop X-Men style superpowers simply as an excuse for some cool CGI. It's all quite inconsistent - especially when compared to Night Watch where the abilities of the Others is fairly limited. The last half hour is just insane, with magic chalk that controls fate, James Bond-esque car combat, a tactical nuclear yo-yo, a rampaging Ferris wheel and massed Medieval melee.

The films have high production values and are intriguing throughout. Few of the questions raised are answered satisfactorily, however, and the concentration needed to read the dialogue makes it harder to just let the whole thing wash over you as the plot goes off the rails. You'll need some patience to keep going. Still, you could do worse.

Conclusion: These are a couple of passable supernatural action dramas that come with the added bonus that you can pretend to be cultural while watching them. The story gets madder than an inflatable pin-cushion stuffed with squirrels by the end, though.

Explosions: There are a few crashes and bangs but nothing much blows up... until the last twenty minutes of the second one - then everything blows up.
Bizarreness: Ever increasing.
Comprehensibility: There are times when you might be as well having the subtitles off.
Stunning, yet inexplicable, events: Several.
Ferris wheel induced panic: Extensive.

Rating: 3/5.

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