Nomad (2005)

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Released 21-Aug-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Historical Epic None
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2005
Running Time 106:50 (Case: 112)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (53:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Sergey Bodrov
Ivan Passer
Studio
Distributor
Kazakhfilm
Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Kuno Becker
Jay Hernandez
Jason Scott Lee
Doskhan Zholzhaksynov
Ayanat Ksenbai
Mark Dacascos
Ashir Chokubayev
Zhanas Iskakov
Almaikhan Kenzhebekova
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Carlo Siliotto


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     We don’t see here a lot of films made in Kazakhstan and if the production problems of Nomad (The Warrior) are anything to go by, we may not see too many more. Started in 2004 with director Ivan Passer with the support of the Kazakh Government, Nomad was shut down by weather and financial troubles until the production was refinanced by the Weinstein brothers who brought in Russian director Sergey Bodrov (Prisoner of the Mountains (1996), Mongol (2007)) to finish the project. The result, not surprisingly, is a bit mixed, not helped by the international cast with a Mexican born actor and three American actors in significant roles, including the two leads.

     Nomad tells the story of the historical figure Ablai Khan (1711-1781) who rose to unite the three main Kazakh tribes and become the ruler of the “Middle Horde” from 1771 to 1781. How accurate the film is to recorded history is best left to others to determine.

     As Nomad starts, the villages of the fragmented Kazakh tribes are periodically destroyed and the people murdered or raped by the Jungars from Mongolia led by Sultan Galdan Ceren (Doskhan Zholzhaksynov) and his war leader Sharish (a badly underused Mark Dacascos, perhaps best known for the wonderful Brotherhood of the Wolf (2001) where he got to show his martial arts skills far better than here). In Kazakhstan there exists a prophesy that a descendant of Genghis Khan will be born to unite the Kazakhs, which naturally does not go down well with Ceren. Warrior and wise man Oraz (Jason Scott Lee) is searching for the expected one, and finds and rescues a baby from a Jungar attack that kills the baby’s mother. He takes charge of the boy and raises him with a number of other Kazakh boys from the different tribes, teaching them fighting skills. Ten years later the boy Mansur (Kuno Becker) and his close friend Erali (Jay Hernandez) have become supreme fighters, the only thing likely to come between them the love of the same woman, Gaukhar (Ayana Yesmagambetova). As the Jungars again invade and pillage Kazakh territory, the destinies of the two friends will take different paths and one must decide whether to make a supreme sacrifice for Kazakh unification and independence.

     Nomad is by no means a bad film. The cinematography of the Kazakh grasslands and mountains is spectacular, the sets, especially the fortress town, look authentic and worn, the action scenes are robust and use a minimum of CGI, with real horses charging across the steppe and cannons blasting away at fortress walls. On occasion, more often in one-on-one fights, the hand held camera and quick cutting create a jerky sequence, however the set piece attacks are more stable and exciting. Indeed, the action is done in quite an old-fashioned way with very little blood and only the occasional severed limb that the film does not overlabour on. The orchestral score is also epic and rousing, adding nicely to the visuals. If there are plot holes, bland and sometimes silly dialogue (perhaps the translations left something to be desired) and wooden acting, the film is never boring and the action, spectacle and music are enough to provide an enjoyable 100 minutes.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Nomad is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced. The print has no issues. Colours are natural, if mostly muted, with earthy browns, yellows and reds predominant. Interestingly, the Kazakh grasslands seldom look green, they are mostly quite dusty and brown. Blacks and shadow detail are fine, the detail crisp and clear. Brightness and contrast are fine. I saw no obvious artefacts.

     English and English descriptive subtitles are available in a clear white font and seem to follow the dialogue reasonably well from the portion I sampled.

    The layer change at 53:53 resulted in a slight pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio is a choice between English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 224 Kbps. The Kazakh audio track available on the Region 1 US release is not included.

     These are good tracks. The 5.1 provides a enveloping surround experience. Dialogue is clear and understandable, the effects have nice separation and the surrounds are constantly in use for crowd, horse and battle effects and music. The sub woofer supports the cannon fire and explosions, horse hooves and music. The 2.0 seemed fine, but lacked the separation of the 5.1 audio.

     The epic sounding orchestral score by Carlo Siliotto nicely compliments the film. Also included in the score are some traditional Kazakh songs.

     Lip synchronisation varied. The dialogue for the various actors was obviously recorded in their native languages. Thus the sync for the English language actors was fine in the English track; however, the Kazakh speakers were a different matter and some of their sync was very noticeably off. I guess it is something one just has to get used to.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are no extras as such, although this is another disc with annoying forced trailers totalling 6:06 minutes before one gets to access the film menu. Included are trailers for Never Give Up, Get Smart and Speed Racer.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US release also has no extras, other than trailers, but it does include a Kazakh Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track. It has been argued that as many of the lead actors are not Kazakh, and speak English, they have been dubbed into Kazakh for that audio track anyway. Whatever the merits of this, I would really have preferred to have the option of listening to this Kazakh made film in Kazakh. On this basis, the Region 1 wins.

Summary

     Nomad features spectacular cinematography of the Kazakh grasslands and mountains, robust action scenes and a rousing score. It is a never boring enjoyable 100 minutes. .

     The DVD has good video and audio (although the Kazakh track is missing) but no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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