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An idealized portrait of Genghis Khan
By BRETT MICHEL  |  June 18, 2008
2.5 2.5 Stars

No offense to John Wayne, but Japanese actor Asano Tadanobu (Last Life in the Universe) is a better choice to portray Temudjin, later known as Genghis Khan. No, Asano’s not Mongolian, but at least he’s Asian. In Russian filmmaker Sergei (Prisoner of the Mountains) Bodrov’s mythmaking epic of pop-hero worship, the young tribal warrior wants to bring choice to the people, spreading “democracy” across the land; I’m sure the Duke would’ve approved. Still, the brooding strengths of an introspective actor like Asano are shrouded in a beautifully filmed spectacle of questionable historical accuracy, where motivations are as shallow as battles are large (and largely computer-enhanced, more Gladiator than the Duke’s The Conqueror). Bodrov’s film (the first in a planned trilogy) ends just as the new Khan is emerging, a trait it shares with Walter Salles’s Che Guevara biography The Motorcycle Diaries, another idealized portrait in lieu of the genuine revolutionary. Mongolian | 126 minutes | Coolidge Corner + Embassy

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 See all articles by: BRETT MICHEL