Reviewed on 2011 June 12
I saw this listed as a freebie movie on On Demand, and passed by it several times, thinking it didn’t sound like something I’d like despite my being something of a history geek. My bad. I selected it the other night and within five minutes, I was hooked. I just regret not getting a chance to see it on the big screen because of the awesome scenery.
Temudjin (amazingly played as the world’s most tough-minded 9-year-old by Odnyan Odsuen) is the son of the Khan, or Mongol leader, in their clan. It’s a big day for him: his father Esugei (Ba Sen) is taking him to a neighboring tribe to pick a bride, and even though he won’t be betrothed for five more years, he chooses Borte (Bayertsetsef Erdenbat as a girl and Khulan Chuluun as the adult Borte), knowing that she’ll be the perfect queen for him when he assumes his dad’s role as Khan. Esugei is ultimately impressed with how well his son knows his own mind, and is proud of his boy.
Temudjin assumes he’ll grow up and have a nice, long life of Khan-ing when his father steps down, but life makes other plans for him. He winds up a slave and despite becoming the ultimate Mongol leader, struggles for the rest of his life, fighting for pretty much everything, including fending off other tribes that think nothing of snatching livestock and brides. He refuses to let anything stop him, and ultimately becomes Genghis (Tadanobu Asano), the Kahn of the Mongol people.
I understand that this glossed over a lot of Genghis’s history, making him see more like a noble warrior than a flat-out warlord, and that didn’t bother me. I went with it as a Mongol’s view of one of their own, trying to pull their people together, than a straight history lesson. To be fair to him, if I’d had the childhood he had, I might be a bit more of a hardcase myself, to put it mildly. It was still a strong story, fictionalized or not. The soundtrack is also wonderful, with the song “Destiny” cutting through at various times and crawling up your spine with that bit of synthesizer or electric strings. My favorite part was the chemistry between Asano and Honglei Sun as Jamukha, his blood brother.
Three chocolate morsels.