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Russian co-writer-director Sergei Bodrov certainly deserved his Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign-Language Film of 2008 for this stunning vision of the life and legend of Genghis Khan.
Bodrov vividly illuminates the formative years in the life of Mongolian fighter Temudgin who was born in 1162. He chooses his future first wife Borte at the age of nine, briefly becomes leader of his tribe after his father is poisoned by a rival, is variously betrayed, captured and sold into slavery while Borte is abducted by a rival.
Betrayals, double dealing, captivity and reunions with the adult Borte (Khulan Chuluun) follow until in 1206 the adult Temudgin (played with power and charisma by Tadanobu Asano) finally comes to terms with his fate which is to unite the warring Mongol tribes and become the legendary conqueror Genghis Khan.
Bodrov combines strong personal drama with thrilling action and superbly-staged battle sequences whose sheer scale make them among the most impressive ever filmed. He scores, too, with more intimate drama, allowing the characters to emerge as flawed, believable human beings. If Mongol really is the first film in a proposed trilogy, that is very good news indeed.