Published on October 31st, 2008 | by Chris1
Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan (2007)
Few names bring fear into the hearts of men as much as "Genghis Khan" or as he was known to the people he led and the lands he ravaged, "Temudgin." In Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan, we get a spectacular, if sympathetic, look at the rise to power of one of history's most infamous warlords.
From his troubled youth, when he's thrust into power as a child and just as quickly overthrown by a member of his father's counsel, young Temudgin must fight his way up from nothing. Escaping capture from this traitor Targutai (Amadu Mamadakov) he prays to the god of the sky, who seems to endow him with his powers. As he reunites with his bride Borte (Khulan Chuluun), and a friend he made along the way, his leadership and stature become clear to everyone around him.
He finally becomes enemies with said friend, Jamukha (Honglei Sun), who has teamed with Targutai in order to elminate Temudgin. The battle scenes in Mongol are spectacular, with maybe a certain amount of Kung-Fu movie flair to them. At times they can get a little grisly, and possibly over the top. The scene early on where Temudgin caves in the guy's skull is probably the prime example. Not for the weak, to be sure.
He's captured and sold to a Chinese nobleman, who puts him on display as an animal. Later freed by his wife, he returns to Mongolia to unite the tribes he fought against, and sets us up (I think) for the rest of this trilogy, which I cannot wait to see.
The greatest thing about Mongol is not Tadanobu Asano's performance as the warlord, although it is excellent. It's the simply breathtaking location shots. Time after time they show you locations you never dreamed could be real. It's just amazing. The production team also went the extra mile in setting everything up. From the costumes to the props, you -will- buy into all of it.
And yet again, I have to change my position on the love story angle. Here it is an integral part of the story. His love for his chosen bride throughout is what drives him. And the opposite is true, as Borte goes as far as becoming the wife of a Chinese nobleman, and mother to his child, in order to get to Temudgin and free him from his cage.
Somewhat troubling throughout, though, is the sympathetic nature of the story. I don't know about you, but I was always taught that Genghis Khan was a merciless killer and ravager. The typical leader of "the mongol hordes", but it's clear that this is not that man. Maybe the portrait will change if the rest of this story is told, I can't say. But that "feeling" is continually in the back of your mind as you watch Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan.
Summary: I don't know about you, but I was always taught that Genghis Khan was a merciless killer and ravager. The typical leader of "the mongol hordes", but it's clear that this is not that man. Maybe the portrait will change if the rest of this story is told, I can't say. But that "feeling" is continually in the back of your mind as you watch Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan.