Sunday, February 28, 2010

Wolfhound: Sword and Sorcery from Russia

Wolfhound is a fantasy film starring Alexander Buharov and Oksana Akinshina; directed by Nikolay Lebedev. Made in Russia and recently imported to the US on DVD. The tag on the cover says it is a combination of Lord of the Rings and Conan the Barbarian. Watching the film I could see elements of both, and it is different enough from either to be its own film and a good one.


Wolfhound is set in a fantasy world in which the gods still move about the land, they channel their power through their worshipers, and others are locked away for good reason. Wolfhound is the title character who survives the massacre of his clan, the Grey Dog Clan, only to be sold into slavery. He escapes to wreak vengeance upon the men responsible for the destruction of his people, and the death of his parents.

He destroys one of his enemy’s called the Eater of Men, and rescues a young girl and a blind old wizard, Wolfhound reluctantly looks after the pair. He joins a caravan and protects a princess from his other foe, a druid and powerful priest to the dark powers. These events and companions set him on a course of the epic hero quest.

The story is well done, with the subtleties of socerous magic; a land gripped in an unnatural winter, blood to open the portals between worlds, and magical healing needing external sources to help it be effective. The special effects are top notch from what appears to be a low budget film, avoiding the cheese factor most movies seem to suffer from on the Sci Fi Channel. The acting, as I can determine because I watched the dubbed version not the one with subtitles, was good, the lines fitting the setting with verisimilitude. The characters looked to belong in such a setting. The women, though attractive, did not have an artificial beauty that so many actresses’ posses, that make them anachronistic within the world they should exist in. The men are hollow cheeked and hard featured, looking as if they had just dropped out of a history book. The one that deals with blood shed and barbarian hoards.

Wolfhound himself is dour and taciturn, there is little humor or warmth in the character, which is as it should be. This film was done as a serious fantasy movie should be done, without any slapstick antics, or witty banter that falls flat for being too modern in its application.

The film does have elements and acts that seem to be lifted directly from The Lord of the Rings and Conan; the aforementioned destruction of Wolfhound’s village. The style and cinematography seems to be borrowed from Peter Jackson, but resolve into a much darker and gritty tone that would have pleased Robert Howard far more than J.R.R. Tolkien.

I was impressed with Wolfhound with only a couple minor complaints that the pacing was a tad slow for me, which is not to say it was too slow, only that I enjoy my films with a little more alacrity. The other complaint is that the hero needs the direct intervention of the gods to accomplish his goals, where the film would have had greater impact had Wolfhound persevered by his own merits and skill.

My recommendation is that if you like fantasy films, good fantasy films, with a flavor that you will not experience from an American film then check out Wolfhound.

5 comments:

  1. Sounds like a great flick. We should get together at Jason's and watch it this week.

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  2. Was this at your local video store, or was there some effort involved in obtaining this? It looks really interesting, but I hate running all over trying to find this stuff!

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  4. Thanks all for reading! The movie was at Block Buster so it was an easy rental. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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