Night Watch (2004)

DVD Cover (Fox Searchlight)
Genres: Action Thriller, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural Thriller, Vampire Film
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Timur Bekmambetov Timur Bekmambetov
Konstantin Khabenskiy Konstantin Khabenskiy
Vladimir Menshov Vladimir Menshov
Valeriy Zolotukhin Valeriy Zolotukhin
Mariya Poroshina Mariya Poroshina
Galina Tyunina Galina Tyunina
Movie Connections:
Night Watch
> Night Watch (2004)
> Day Watch (2006)

5.7 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Crispy
Added: October 26, 2007
The concept of Good vs. Evil has been a common movie plot going back for decades. You have someone clear cut to root for, someone clear cut to hate and when Good triumphs in the end you go home happy and content with the evening. The Russian movie Night Watch has taken a slightly different approach to this. The battle of Good vs. Evil is meant quite literally, as the conflict here is a war between the forces of Light and Dark, yet despite the designation for each side being set in stone, which side is right or wrong is far from it.

This war has been raging for ages. Each side is made up of Others, or super-humans. The specific type runs the gamut from shape-shifters to witches and vampires to precognition. They fought openly once, but soon realized that the conflict would tear the world apart. To prevent this they signed a truce and the war was moved to a subtle, behind-the-scenes state of checks and balance. The Light side formed the Night Watch, a group whose sole purpose is protecting humanity from the forces of Dark, known as Day Watch. Both Watches keep a close eye on the other, making sure neither violates the terms of the truce, even though both sides are fully aware that they’re locked in a stalemate. However, prophecies tell of a time when an Other will be born, more powerful than any before it. Whichever side they decide to join will be guaranteed an unquestionable victory. Fast forward a few centuries and we catch up with Anton. He has just found out his wife has left him for another man and even worse, she’s pregnant with this guy’s kid. He hires a witch to kill the unborn child, but the voodoo is interrupted by Night Watch. The stress is so much it awakens Anton’s own powers as an Other, and he soon joins the Light himself. He spends the next twelve years fighting the Dark when he is giving the mission to protect a human from an unlicensed vampire attack. What should have been a routine mission instead sets in motion a chain of events that not only forces Anton to confront his inner Darkness, but could change the entire course of the age old battle.

The movie is actually based on the novel of the same name by Sergey Lukyanenko which I haven’t read. However, apparently the movie takes a lot of creative license with the story. I’ve never read the series, but you’d probably like a heads up if you’re actually a fan of the books.

As for the film itself, it’s freaking amazing. Save for the big Braveheart-esque battle in the beginning and a few fights here and there, there’s not a lot of action going on here. Instead, it’s all built on story. A lot of it is based on Anton’s personal inner struggles, but we also spend a healthy chunk of time on the human from the vampire attack and the Others dealing with a second prophecy that has began. As you might have guessed from the title, the movie focuses mostly on Night Watch. However, even though they’re our protagonists here, the line between good and evil is heavily blurred. Throughout the course of the movie, we see the Darker tendencies of Night Watch more than once, as well as a handful of scenes suggesting that the Dark Others aren’t necessarily evil.

The editing and score were both done quite nicely as well. There’s nothing that ruins an action scene more than using that change-angle-every-half-a-second technique that makes things impossible to make out. Sure, it makes it look all “fast and exciting” but at the cost of the entire fight itself, it’s just not worth it. Fortunately, they were able to use the background music to achieve the pace enhancement. For example, when he’s fighting off the vampire, it keeps slipping into The Gloom, a sort of sub-dimension that pretty much results in invisibility, and then jumping out for ambush strikes. During this fight, the music keeps alternating between a hard hitting rock beat and then abruptly shutting completely when he disappears. Hollywood should take a tip or two from the Russians and learn that bad hip hop is not the catch all answer to background music.

Strangely, this movie does not seem to be as well known as you would think it would be. It’s got a talented cast, great direction and an incredibly engaging story that knows to use small twists where they’re needed instead of ruining it with one big, implausible twist at the end. To sum it up, Night Watch is just a great movie no matter how you slice it. 9.5/10
bluemeanie #1: bluemeanie - added 10/26/2007, 12:26 PM
Eh. I know a lot of people loved it. I never really got into it. Was kind of boring to me. 6/10.
Chad #2: Chad - added 10/28/2007, 08:53 PM
I watched an hour of it and turned it off out of sheer boredom. Great special effects, but everything else was lacking and I found myself falling asleep. 4/10 for the effects, and maybe it would have turned around in the last hour, but I'm not sticking around to find out.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 10/28/2007, 10:55 PM
What a piece of shit. I waited 2 hours for this movie to go absolutely nowhere, and do absolutely nothing. Awesome special effects, but Jesus Christ, nothing happened. 3/10
Crispy #4: Crispy - added 10/29/2007, 12:58 AM
*shrugs* I dug the shit out of it. The sequel drops soon too.
effin #5: effin - added 11/26/2007, 11:28 PM
Seems like i am going to stick out like a black republican. I loved this movie, I know there was a lot of things in this movie that was ment for eastern cultures and i have read some things that have said that western cultures wont understand alot of the movie, my russian is rusty so i watched this with a ukranian diver buddy of mine and he explained a lot of things, over all the movie took us 4 hrs to watch with him watching, explaining/ translating. it was good fun to watch a foreign film with a foreigner. 8/10.
Lucid Dreams #6: Lucid Dreams - added 08/06/2009, 03:00 PM
6/10 I don't even think the writer knew what was going on. They needed to explain things better, but instead added more and more things to the plot. Day Watch better be good.
Ginose #7: Ginose - added 12/08/2009, 11:44 PM
Both this, and its sequel, have no idea what the fuck is going on. Such terrible adaptations of such excellent stories, not that they're bad movies, just have relatively nothing to do with the source material. They're also really jumbled and nonsensical in their assembly and, trhuthfully, the only really good things to be said are the lovliness of the effects and the action sequences...

Yeah. It's meh, but a polite meh. 6.8/10
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