DVD Review HTF Review: Nomad: The Warrior

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Neil Middlemiss, Aug 4, 2007.

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  1. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    [​IMG]

    Nomad: The Warrior




    Studio: The Weinstein Company
    Year: 2006
    US Rating: R - Voilence
    Film Length: 111 Mins
    Aspect Ratio: 1:85.1
    Audio: English 5.1, Kazakh 5.1
    Subtitles: Optional English and Spanish and English SDH




    US Release Date: July 24, 2007

    The Film - [​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]


    In the wide open ranges of 18th century Kazakhstan, the wandering Oraz (Jason Scott Lee) searches for a child who is prophesized to grow up and become a great warrior and unite the Kazakh people. This warrior is destined to challenge the Mongolian King, ending his reign and the rule of the Mongol’s over the divided Kazakh people.

    The king, learning of the prophecy, orders the child to be found and killed. They slay a caravan of travelers, including the mother of this child, but thanks to Oraz, the boy, called Mansur, is saved. To keep him safe, the child’s father, agrees to let Oraz raise him and to train him to become a great warrior.

    Mansur grows up safely and along with his best friend Erali, becomes a skilled warrior. When the King learns that the child survived, he sends his soldiers and greatest warrior, Sharish, to slay the messianic Mansur and his people, the stage is set for the bloody battle and the prophecy to be fulfilled.

    Not an original story concept by any stretch of the imagination, and while the lack of reliance on CGI to create its epic landscapes is refreshing, it is about the only thing that is. It was also a large and expensive undertaking, rumored to cost around $40MM, suffered at the hands of Mother Nature which caused delays and the loss of its original director and cinematographer. It was commissioned by the Government of Kazakhstan, the same government that was up in arms over Sacha Baron Cohen’s skewering and unflattering portrayal of the Kazakh way of life in the wildly successful, in Borat. Interesting then, that the principle players are from anywhere but Kazakhstan. Kuno Becker (GOAL!) as Mansur is a fine actor from Mexico, Jay Hernandez (Hostel) as Erali was born in California, Mark Dacascos (Brotherhood of the Wolf) as Sharish is from Hawaii and Jason Scott Lee (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) was also born in California.

    Listed as directed by Sergei Bodrov and Ivan Passer, the influence of different directorial skills and approaches can be detected, specifically in the handling of the combat sequences. Some are handled with skill, neatly choreographed pieces that genuinely build tension and look good (the Mansur/Sharish fight in particular). But others are woefully undershot, lacking definition in the action and, while filled with many fast cuts, fail to show off the fight in an interesting or comprehensible way.

    The story is also poorly constructed within the film. Little time is invested in the characters, good or bad. No real effort was put into getting the audience to stand behind the hero except being told in some of the voice over narration and a few dialogue exchanges that he was the ‘great’ one and a ‘great’ warrior. Simply being told of someone’s greatness is no substitute for discovering it for yourself. A trite subplot of Mansur and Erali falling in love with the same girl is also mixed into the two hour running time, but serves merely as a means to an end and isn’t particularly convincing.

    Nomad also suffers under the weight of what it is trying to be, attempting to cover a lot of years and aiming to do so with an epic look and feel. It makes a familiar mistake believing that multiple shots of grand vistas that have yet to be spoiled by the careless hand of man, or that frequent slow motion shots of men on horseback, kicking up a sandstorm’s worth of dust are enough to have the film stamped with the term, ‘Epic’. All it really does is slow this film down to a near crawl for the first hour. Since the film begins with Mansur as a baby and moves to his late teenage years (we can suppose), the characters of the King, his key henchman Sharish and the wise Oraz fail to age, they appear exactly as the do when the film opens, in practically the same outfits, helping to further rob the film of credibility.

    Some moments in Nomad are original, but so fleeting that it is impossible for them to amount to enough to balance the weight of a tired, flawed and troubled film. One truly worthy element of Nomad is the score by Italian Composer Carlo Siliotto, who was nominated for a Golden Globe. The score has a nice main theme and utilizes instruments of the region to help tell the story but not become clichéd. The score is a fine effort.





    The Video - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    The Weinstein Company, distributing this film from Kazakhstan, has provided us the film with its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The presentation contains quite a bit of noise, particularly during the films earlier scenes. Some edge enhancement is also apparent. However, the film does show off some beautiful colors and nice contrasts at times. “Nomad” has a dusty, beige soaked palette and so, appears a little washed out at times – but given the location of the film and the story being told, it would appear to be in keeping with that vision.




    The Sound - [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    I am not quite sure what to make of the sound for Nomad: The Warrior. It has an available 5.1 track for both English (dubbed) and native Kazakh with English and Spanish subtitles. While the bass booms and the music swells in the surrounds, the whinnying and neighing horses come through nicely and even the surrounds are tested at times, the dialogue in the language tracks are a problem.

    I chose to watch the film in the language of origin, with English subtitles, which is always my preference. But I noticed right away that Jason Scott Lee’s Oraz character was speaking in English. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it was quickly clear that the words he was saying on screen did not match the subtitles at all; often being a completely different interpretation all together. Then, other characters during the film were clearly not speaking in Kazakh, so for the most part everyone looked as though they were dubbed even though I was watching this with, supposedly, the native language track.

    The subtitles were poorly done, very poorly done and did a great disservice to a film that was already struggling.

    Nice sounds, terrible language and subtitle tracks! Disappointing to say the least.




    The Extra's - No Stars out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]




    Final Thoughts

    It is a shame that the final product of Nomad: The Warrior is the mess that it is. The cast is reasonably capable, albeit working from a weak script and the themes in the film are recognizable easy to buy into. However, these themes will only be entertaining, re-treading familiar ground, as long as the execution succeeds. It doesn’t. The set up of the child born to unite a divided people is a grand one, but the story told under that banner is ever-shrinking through the film, and is conveyed in narrow, disjointed scenes that ultimately dissatisfy. It does not succeed as an epic action film or an intimate portrayal of a hero and the burden they carry – it doesn’t even work on the level of mindless action battle scenes strung together with a thin plot as there are far too few action scenes to speak of.

    A failed, mythical tale simply not worth your time.



    Overall Score - [​IMG][​IMG] out of [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]



    Neil Middlemiss
    Kernersville, NC
     
  2. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Thanks for the review, Neil.

    Based on how bad this film is reviewed, and just by looking at the
    cover art alone -- you can see that the studio is trying to promote
    this dog under the guise of 300. I am sure they are hoping
    that their cover art lures lovers of that film to this one. Sad.
     
  3. Neil Middlemiss

    Neil Middlemiss Producer
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    You are quite right - which is a shame, as the original poster was far more original (even if the film was not).
     

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