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Tadanobu Asano
Honglei Sun
Khulan Chuluun.
Sergei Bodrov
Arif Aliyev.
Running Time
125 minutes

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It’s the wrath of Khan! Genghis Khan, that is

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An epic account of the rise of Genghis Khan (Asano), charting his journey from his ninth birthday, in 1172 AD, through to 1206 AD, the moment he unites the Steppe tribes and embarks on his staggering journey of conquest.

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Drawn from the one extant piece of original source material - The Secret History Of The Mongols, a curious blend of myth, legend and apparent fact - Sergei Bodrov’s Oscar-nominated Mongol is an impressive piece of epic filmmaking. The ancient manuscript, like many sagas, is somewhat repetitive, moving swiftly from a mythical ‘origin’ story into the early life of Genghis Khan (Tadanobu Asano) - or Temudzhin as he was originally known – which unfolds in a seemingly endless cycle of triumph and loss. Life on the ancient steppe was dominated by tribal warfare, as horsemen constantly battered one another in a bid to capture livestock, women, and good grazing for their herds.

For Bodrov, this presents a challenge. He conceived the film as the first part of a trilogy, and it extends no further than the moment when Temudzhin vanquishes Jamucha (Honglei Sun), his former blood brother, to position himself on the cusp of greatness. The director sifts through the multiple layers of betrayal and revenge that lead to that point, a sequence that could disintegrate into a bloody, martial monotony.

Thankfully, the Secret History contains an intriguing chapter in which a rival clan kidnaps Temudzhin’s intended spouse, Borte (Khulan Chuluun), and the director develops her role to the point where she plays a pivotal part in her husband’s political and spiritual evolution. Mongol offers a considered portrait of Genghis, with Borte’s presence adding depth to the warlord’s emotional makeup; if there is simplicity in his and his brethren’s actions, they are simple folk. Bodrov also benefits immeasurably from his leading man’s performance, with Japanese actor Asano Tadanobu bringing a confidence and quietude to the part, which in turn adds gravitas to his epic journey. Like many sagas, Mongol carries its principal player through a period of shadow, when he is imprisoned by the Tangut kingdom. He endures his privations with grace and dignity. When he emerges, freed by Borte’s cunning, his goes on to fulfil his destiny, his journey painted on a truly epic canvas. The cinematography, rendering the stark, unworldly beauty of the Central Asian Steppe, is astounding.

With its breathtaking landscapes, bloody battles, bitter betrayals and an aching love story, Mongol is a sumptuously crafted epic.

Reviewed by Will Lawrence

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Average user rating for Mongol
Empire Star Rating

Way better than I expected

Well, I didn't know what to expect, but this movie held my interest all the way through. I thought it was a terrific look at the customs and lifestyles of the Mongols. Definitely rent this DVD! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mojo88 at 20:38, 01 November 2008 | Report This Post

Mongol: Enter Genghis

I really only knew scant details about this film before seeing it. I knew it was about the life of Genghis Kahn and it would be the first in a trilogy. I think there is some very nice organic and humanistic portraiture going on in this film. What makes this film great is that Genghis Kahn is detailed by the things he does, not only by what he says. So, when he does say things, they have weight and resonance. The film does not rely overly on digital effects. The huge battle sequence, obviou... More

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Posted by JoseJones at 05:01, 07 July 2008 | Report This Post


Someone, somewhere, has a great version of Mongol with all the great bits in it, and they're keeping it for themselves. Or so it would seem, because for some reason, this would-be epic shoots itself in the foot at almost every turn. A biopic of Genghis Khan before he was Genghis Khan sounds intriguing: kicking off with an extended Conan/300 intro. However, that ultimate battle - the showstopper, the sequence that will hook an audience, the one that they will tell their friends about - never ha... More

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Posted by moviemaniac2 at 14:01, 30 June 2008 | Report This Post

RE: Mongol

I agree; I saw this yesterday and was hugely impressed. I didn't know an awful lot about it going in, I went because I heard the battle scenes and cinematography were both brilliant, but I wasn't expecting it to present such a thoughtful representation of Khan. I don't know much about his history, but I'd really like to see a sequel. ... More

Posted by themarquis at 17:18, 12 June 2008 | Report This Post


I saw this last night and really enjoyed it for what it was, a love story set against Genghis Khan's rise to power. The major cast was all spot on especially Khan's brother in arms/turned enemy and the battle scenes especially the last one were suitably brutal and at the same time gorgeously shot. The pacing is a little off, it jumps around a bit - kids seem to age years in a matter of days, but if you let yourself go and enjoy it, it's a sumptuous epic. All I can really say is I'm glad... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Timon at 07:50, 11 June 2008 | Report This Post

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