In contemporary Moscow, the other-world battle between the forces of Light and the forces of Darkness unfolds. For centuries, the undercover members of the Night Watch have policed the world's Dark Ones – the vampires, witches, shape-shifters and sorcerers that wage treachery in the night – while the Dark Ones have a Day Watch that in turn polices the forces of Light. The fate of humanity rests on this delicate balance between good and evil, but an ancient prophecy predicts that a powerful 'Other' will rise up and be tempted by one of the sides, plunging the world into a renewed war between Dark and Light.

A crazy bloody ride.

There has been a revival of the 'fairy movie' over the last few years with the astonishing success of Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy. But now a new film has come along to break the spell. Russian film Night Watch was briefly the most successful domestically-made film of all time when it opened and it also outran rival fantasy film Lord Of The Rings II: The Two Towers at the Russian box office in just three weeks.

kinetic and ambitious filmmaking

The first of a trilogy Night Watch is adapted from Sergei Lukyanenko's popular novel. Like Hollywood films Van Helsing (2004) and the Blade series, it too features a vampire killer. Anton (Konstantine Khabensky) finds himself a peacekeeper in the middle of an ancient, mythological war between the forces of good and evil. He relishes the role of vigilante until the past – and a prophecy – threaten to ruin the balance between the two, plunging the world into an unnatural Darkness.

It's all very spooky, Night Watch's saturated colours, intrusive subtitles (a la Man On Fire) and forced visual perspective tip off director Timur Belkmambetov's background in commercials. Like so many contemporary British and American productions this is another feature film made with an aggressive, in-your-face 'ad' aesthetic. But this style works well in Night Watch's favour, making the story surreal, grungy and visceral where the 'magical' heroes on Night Watch and evil anti-heroes on Day Watch really bleed.

The narrative is pretty crazy and convoluted and even confusing at times. But whether or not you are on board you really do have to hand it to Belmambetov and Co. Made on a fraction of a Hollywood budget with convincing CG effects and scope to parallel a George Lucas Star Wars epic (only one of the myriad of SF hits to which it refers), Night Watch is kinetic and ambitious filmmaking aimed at those who prefer their elves without pointy ears.


1 hour 54 min