By Cynthia Fuchs,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Awkward casting, dubbing mar violent Kazakh tale.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Warriors and rulers believe in "destiny" but still try very hard to avoid it by killing children and other enemies; the Kazakh tribes are unified at last, following several bloody, costly battles.
Violence & Scariness
Several battle scenes are made "artistic" by dissolves and slow motion, but they still show brutal clashes between 18th-century armies. Horses crash and fall; weapons include spears, arrows, shields, swords, knives, and cannons; scenes show blood, dismemberment, and decapitation. Warriors attack a caravan carrying a mother and child, killing the mother (her body is off screen, but stabbing thrusts are visible). A woman attempts to poison her son's killer. A prisoner is put on display as an "unbeatable" warrior, chained to a post while he kills opponents. A fight between two prisoners in masks is fierce and bloody, ending with one friend dying in another's very bloody arms.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Flirting and brief kiss between principal characters; Khan's daughter tries to blackmail a prisoner into marrying her.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Some drinking at celebrations.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this English-dubbed action movie set in 1700s Kazakhstan is very bloody, with fights between armies as well as individuals wielding swords, spears, and arrows. Violence includes dismemberment, bloody wounds, and decapitation (heads are displayed as trophies). A vengeful mother insists that her son's murderer be killed; when he isn't, she attempts to poison him. All of the fighting results in bloody bodies and vows of vengeance.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Based on 1 parent review
Report this review
What's the Story?
Set in 18th-century Kazakhstan, this French-Kazakh co-production tells the story -- more or less -- of the Ablai Khan, a brilliant warrior who united the fractious Kazakh tribes against the brutal Jungar ruler Galdan (Doshkan Zholzhaxynov). As pronounced by Oraz (Jason Scott Lee), the prophecy holds that the Abali Khan will be born soon -- and lo, there he is, saved by Oraz from certain death as an infant, the raised as a mighty warrior named Mansur (Kuno Becker). The path of "the child of the prophecy" involves sacrifice: His mother dies when he's an infant, and his battles take tolls on his friends -- warrior Erali (Jay Hernandez) and spunky girl Gaukhar (Ayana Yesmagambetova). The boys both fall in love with the girl, though Mansur appears to have the upper hand. It's not long before Mansur must prove himself. He clashes with vengeance-minded Sharish (Mark Dacascos), performs amazing horse-riding tricks, saves his girl from captivity, and eventually leads his adoring men into a ferocious battle.
Is It Any Good?
If the movie's general description sounds conventional, its execution is troubling in a number of ways. First, for its U.S. release, the film has been dubbed into English, which is distracting because the lip movements and language don't match in the slightest. Worse -- and much stranger -- the principal men are Western actors (Los Angelean Hernandez, Mexico City-born Becker, and L.A.-born Lee, who's of Hawaiian and Chinese descent), while all villains, women, and extras are distinctly Asian. The Westerners are pretty enough, but they stand out by not looking like anyone else they're destined to save.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about how foreign movies are perceived by U.S. audiences. What assumptions do people make about films from other countries? Do those assumptions depend on the type of movie it is? Is a foreign action movie more attractive to general audiences than a foreign drama? Why or why not? Families can also discuss the movie's take on destiny. Why do characters who believe in predestination still try to subvert it? Does accepting destiny lead to peace or sorrow in the movie? Why?
- In theaters: March 30, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: July 24, 2007
- Cast: Jason Scott Lee, Jay Hernandez, Kuno Becker
- Directors: Ivan Passer, Sergei Bodrov
- Inclusion Information: Polynesian/Pacific Islander actors, Latinx actors
- Studio: Weinstein Co.
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence.
- Last updated: March 31, 2022
Inclusion information powered by
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate