Nochnoi Dozor (Night Watch) Timur Bekmambetov

Nochnoi Dozor (Night Watch) Timur Bekmambetov
Nochnoi Dozor, called Night Watch in North America, is the first part of a trilogy that, upon its release in 2004, became the biggest box office success in Russian film history.

It's also the first Hollywood-looking knock-off the country's ever produced that's reached our shores. And director Timur Bekmambetov has learned everything he knows from watching Hollywood's most obnoxious exports. Nochnoi Dozor is brimming with impressive looking special effects and a completely derivative, asinine story that involves a lot of posturing about light and dark but in the end amounts to the Blade franchise directed as a Nine Inch Nails video by an attention-deficient hack who's watching Darren Aronofsky's Requiem For A Dream a few too many times.

The tale wants to come across as epic in scope; it concerns an ongoing war between the Others, those of light and those of darkness. The dark ones are "policed" by light Others (called the Night Watch), while the dark Others keeping an eye on the pale guys are called Day Watch (featured in the Russian-released sequel, Dnevnoy Dozor). Through frantic jump cuts and a jittery presentation, what gets revealed is that the dark Others are essentially vampires to be chased down by the Night Watch.

It's an entertaining diversion, for a while, but as Bekmambetov piles on the arbitrary CG effects — including an impressive looking jet van flipping over a Day Watch pedestrian — the cracks in the story get wider. (Plus: jet van? Ugh!)

Night Watch is competent enough to make for an impressive looking trailer but shoddy enough to get sent back to the Hollywood-lite drawing board. (Channel One Russia/Fox)