Mongol: A Kinder, Gentler Warlord

I learned three important lessons from Mongol. First: Mongols don't kill children. Second: You can't fit two ram heads in one pot, so don't even try. Third: Li'l Mongols are freaking adorable!

Not your father's Genghis Khan, this despot is so sensitive that he's whatever the word for emo is now. Mongol plays like The Last of the Mohicans 2: Asia Minor, turning an otherwise excellent movie into something totally pretty and revisionist. Mongol begins with a pre-pubescent Khan (there is nothing sweeter than a chubby little murderer in tiny furry moccasins!) losing his clan leadership to a jerky usurper, and it ends with a 40-ish Khan conquering half the world, which is a lot of conquering. In between, he gets captured and enslaved, escapes, and is reunited with his wife several times over, because—obviously—he will find her no matter what. The acting is... eh, well, it's entirely in Mongolian, so your guess is as good as mine! But it seems sincere, at least, and the final battle scene is gloriously awesome. The vision of thousands of men (or "hordes," I suppose) in scary Asian battle armor fighting in a lightning storm for something important (um, okay—I have no idea what they were fighting for. But who cares?!) is honestly one of the most beautiful things I've seen in years. More beautiful, even, than James McAvoy in a tuxedo on a summer's day. Seriously, what is more beautiful than that? Nothing.

Unfortunately for the audience, the rest of Mongol, while gorgeous, lacks the punch of that final scene. Top that with the questionable reinvention of Genghis Khan as a kinder, gentler tyrant, and you really take the war out of warlord.

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Rated R · 120 min.
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Director: Sergei Bodrov
Writer: Arif Aliyev and Sergei Bodrov
Producer: Sergei Bodrov, Bulat Galimgereyev, Philip Lee, Anton Melnik and Sergei Selyanov
Cast: Tadanobu Asano, Channing Tatum, Khulan Chuluun, Amadu Mamadakov, Odnyam Odsuren and Amarbold Tuvshinbayar

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