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DVD Review

DVD cover



Starring: Aleksandr Bukharov and Oksana Akinshina
Momentum Pictures
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 22 February 2010

Condemned to the mines, following the destruction of his tribe, Wolfhound escapes and kills Maneater, the man he holds responsible for the death of his parents. Escaping with two freed captives, the sage Tilorn and slave-girl Niilit, together they travel to the cursed city of Galirad, where Wolfhound finds favour with Princess Elen, finally becoming her bodyguard. Elen is to be betrothed to Vinitar, in the hope that the union will save the city from destruction by the evil druid Zhadoba. Through the journey Wolfhound learns more about the destruction of his village and starts to fall in love with the princess...

Wolfhound (Волкодав из рода Серых Псов. 2007. 2 hrs, 15 mins, 51 sec) is a Russian fantasy film, based on the novels of Maria Semyonova and directed by Nikolai Lebedev.

One of the tricks of creating a good fantasy film is create a believable, coherent world, even if actions within that world are unreal. Although Wolfhound has some magical elements it keeps itself well within a believable pseudo medieval world, which is close enough to most audience’s ideas that it does not feel jarring.

There have been a number of fantasy films in recent years, Lord of the Rings dominated the west, while Night Watch signaled a renaissance in big budget Russian cinema. The success of both films means that anything which comes after will always be measured by these two films. For Wolfhound this is unfortunate as it isn’t in any stretch of imagination Tolkienesque, although the makers would wish you to think so, nor does it have the immediacy of Night watch No, my friends, if the film had to be compared to anything at all it would be the Conan films, for this is a very close relative of those Arnold Schwarzenegger sword and muscle epics. I haven’t read the original novels but I’d bet good money that before the end he becomes a king.

Aleksandr Bukharov plays our brooding warrior out for revenge, and brood he does, pretty much all through the film. This is the film's weakest part as our hero goes from scene to scene scowling, brooding or killing, without cracking a single smile. At two and quarter hours the film feels like a long watch without any changes in tone or mood. There is of course the lovely Oksana Akinshina who plays the princess, though in this case she is a very serious young lady. This film definitely needed a lot more dwarf tossing, or a seriously shorter edit to make it a palatable experience.

Given that this is one of the biggest Russian films of the year it is surprising that there are no extras on the disc. What you do get is the audio option for either the original Russian track - with English subtitles - or a pretty good English dub.

Ultimately, it is not a bad film, but it does lack texture and without this the film feels overly long.


Charles Packer

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