Wasting Saturday Night Watching Cheap DVD’s

By Bryan • china, nanjing • 20 Nov 2005

In addition to be ridiculously cheap, the selection of avaliable DVD’s here never ceases to amaze me. I’m consitently introduced to cinematic pieces that would normally be overlooked down at the local Blockbuster.

I picked up this Russian disc tonight entitled “War“. Not really sure what pulled me to this particular one. The cover looked like something that had been ripped off a Dolph Lundgren movie (Lundgren appears to be somewhat of a star out east, every DVD store is stocked with his B level action films). The title wasn’t too inspiring either. I’ve never seen a Russian film before and being the unworldy person that I am, was a little skeptical in regards to the quality. But hey, why not? Price isn’t an issue, and it had apparently won something at the Montreal Film Fest.

I’ve always appreciated foreign films (while at the same time admitting that I haven’t watched too many), mostly for their original writing and well acted stories. Yet most have always held a very ‘budget’ feel. I noticed this most in regards to directing and cinemetography. For me, these two aspects are essential in a good movie, and while many of these films held their own and often surpassed the Hollywood meal, the unfortunately lacked the, well, ‘polish’ of their bigger brothers.

In the past four or five years, I’ve really noticed a increase in the overall smoothness and refinement of foreign films. I’ve watched a lot of Korean flicks and most could have been made in North America. Taegukgi blew me away when I first saw it. And while at the end of of the day it rehashes many war movie themes, the pure slickness and execution of the movie is testament that the Asian film industry can certainly produce a film of Hollywood cinematic/special effect quality.

I wouldn’t go as far to say that War is an excellent film, but it is damn good, and easily 10x better than I was expecting. The cinematography is breath taking, the acting solid and the story line an interesting mix of narrative flashbacks. It’s about a hostage rescue in Chechnya, and that’s about all I’m going to say.

I’ll admit that War is the only Russian film I’ve seen, but based on that, I would venture that the former USSR is on it’s way to becoming a outlet for some excellent cinematic work.

It is unfortunate that North American success is blocked by language, rather than filming quality, which easily matches, if not surpasses Hollywood. The budget feel is gone. That’s no longer an excuse not to take some of these gems in.

P.S. – The IMDB review is full of shit.

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