Warlord (Yaroslav. Tysyachu let nazad) (2010)

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Released 14-Dec-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Trailer-x 6 but not for this film
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2010
Running Time 99:17
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dmitri Korobkin
Studio
Distributor

Eagle Entertainment
Starring Aleksandr Ivashkevich
Svetlana Chuikina
Aleksey Kravchenko
Viktor Verzhbitskiy
Valeriy Zolotukhin
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $29.95 Music Dmitri Dankov


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Russian 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 (Burned In) Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

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Plot Synopsis

     Prince Yaroslav, son of Vladimir I, Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, lived in the 11th Century AD and is known to history as Yaroslav I The Wise for his lawgiving, wisdom and compassion. He ruled between 1019 and 1054 and married his children into a number of the royal houses of Europe and Byzantium. The 2010 Russian film Warlord (Russian title Yaroslav. Tysyachu let nazad) bills itself as “the true story of Prince Yaroslav” and covers his early career when his father sent him to govern the wild and remote province of Rostov.

     In Warlord a prologue tells us that Rostov is beset by Viking mercenaries, brigands and slave traders, then the film immediately jumps into a scene in which Yaroslav (Alexsandr Ivashkevich), accompanied by a small force including the Viking leader Harald (Aleksey Kravchenko), is on the trail of a group of slave traders led by Aldan. Catching the slavers beside a river, they rescue a group of captives including Raida (Svetlana Kravchenko). She is the daughter of the chief of the Bear Clan, a forest tribe hostile to all comers. Varoslav decides to try to make peace with the Bear Clan by returning Raida to her family with a small force. However, in the forest they are ambushed and Yaroslav captured. About to be put to death as an offering to the clan’s bear god, Yaroslav is saved by the miraculous appearance of a bear! He is put into the charge of the priest Churillo (Valeriy Zoloyukhin) which allows the love between Yaroslav and Raida to grow.

     Back in Rostov, Sviatozar (Viktor Verzhbitskiy), the head of the council, organises a force to attack the Bear Clan and free Yaroslav. However there is a traitor in the Rostovian ranks; known only as “Owl”, in secret alliance with the slavers of Aldan he orders an attack upon the Bear Clan village to kill Yaroslav. With forces gathering and betrayal and murder in the air, the stage is set for a climax that will determine the fate of the province.

     Made on a budget of around $5,000,000, Warlord avoids massive pitched battles in favour of a smaller, more intimate story which works pretty well once you figure out just who is who! There are indeed a number of smaller scale battles, and they are well executed and quite brutal. The film also looks stunning; sets are well realised, with all the grit and grime of medieval northern Europe, and the plains and forests lovingly photographed. Indeed, director Dmitri Korobkin started in films as a cinematographer, and here in Warlord he acts as his own DP, putting all the money invested in the film into the images upon the screen. It there is a criticism, it is in the number of unnecessary sweeping (and jerky) camera moves over forests and towns that achieve little except call attention to themselves.

     Warlord is well worth a look. The acting is acceptable, although seldom reaching any great heights, the action sequences energetic and brutal, the situations interesting. The film covers a period of history little known in the west; just how “true” the account is will have to be left to those who know more about early Russian history than I do. However, at just under 100 minutes the film moves along well, is never boring, and does not require any pre-knowledge of Russian history. Viewed as a small scale historical drama it works quite well.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Warlord 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 and greys predominant. The northern forests look dark and hostile, just as they should! Blacks and shadow detail are fine, the detail crisp and clear. Brightness and contrast are fine. I saw no obvious artefacts.

     Burnt in English subtitles appear in a largish, white font and are easy to read except on a few occasions when they appear over light backgrounds. They are in American English, contain no spelling errors and only a few minor grammatical errors.

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

Audio

     Audio is Russian Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded at 224 Kbps.

     The audio is surround encoded and does produce a quite aggressive, enveloping feel. Dialogue is clean, the effects quite good, with horses hooves thudding, whips cracking and swords clanging quite nicely. My sub-woofer provided some minor bass support. While obviously lacking the depth and separation of a 5.1 audio, the track we have is satisfactory.

     The score by Dmitri Dankov uses some unusual instruments; parts are interesting, the remainder does not call undue attention to itself. It nicely compliments the film.

     Lip synchronisation is good.

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

Extras

Trailers

     These trailers play on start-up and must be skipped. They can also be selected from the menu: The Bomber (1:34), Jabberwock (1:14), Mr Nice (1:55), Set Up (2:18), Deadheads (2:09) and Escapee (2:04).

R4 vs R1

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

     There does not seem currently to be a Region 1US release. In the UK the film is called Iron Lord; the Region 2 UK and Region 2 German DVD releases also have no extras. There is no reason to go beyond our Region 4 version.

Summary

     Warlord looks stunning; sets are well realised, with all the grit and grime of medieval northern Europe, and the plains and forests lovingly photographed, the action sequences energetic and brutal. At just under 100 minutes the film moves along well, is never boring, and does not require any pre-knowledge of Russian history.

     The DVD has good video and audio but no extras; however no other release has any extras either.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, March 03, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD 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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