Review: ‘Revenge’

Warring tribal chiefs wreak gruesome vengeance on each other -- and their own kin -- in the historical saga "Revenge." Unfolding on the Kazakh steppe sometime during the 18th century, this conventional costume meller from vet helmer Damir Manabai follows the forbidden love between Ershora (Niyaz Abdigaparov), son of the Aidite leader, and Jemal (Zukhra Tasyrova), daughter of the Jaunite clan. Standard cruelty-begets-cruelty fare is enlivened by some spectacular Kazakh horsemanship, but fests rep the only chance for this pic to ride far from home.

Warring tribal chiefs wreak gruesome vengeance on each other — and their own kin — in the historical saga “Revenge.” Unfolding on the Kazakh steppe sometime during the 18th century, this conventional costume meller from vet helmer Damir Manabai follows the forbidden love between Ershora (Niyaz Abdigaparov), son of the Aidite leader, and Jemal (Zukhra Tasyrova), daughter of the Jaunite clan. Standard cruelty-begets-cruelty fare is enlivened by some spectacular Kazakh horsemanship, but fests rep the only chance for this pic to ride far from home.

When rebellious Ershora refuses to wed a girl from another nomadic tribe, he sinks a strategic alliance sought by his father. Beaten and imprisoned by kinsmen, he falls victim to a worse fate when captured by the Jaunites. They employ a traditional torture, referred to in the subtitles as “the leather hat.” Staked out in the desert heat, Ershora’s head is covered with the skin of a freshly killed camel, which slowly dries tightly against his skull. After a few days, he’s reduced to a moaning beast. Tech package is serviceable, with cinematography the standout.

Revenge

Kazakhstan

Production

A Kazakhfilm presentation. (International sales: Kazakhfilm, Almaty, Kazakhstan.) Produced by Tasbolat Merekenov, Arman Asenov. Directed by Damir Manabai. Screenplay, Smagul Elubai, based on the novel "The Dombraist" by Abish Kekilbai.

Crew

Camera (color), Bulat Suleyev, Murat Aliyev; editor, Svetlana Niyazova; music, Adil Bestybaev; production designer, Sabit Kurmanbekov, Andrei Vlaznev. Reviewed at Karlovy Vary Film Festival (East of the West), July 2, 2007. Original title: Kek. Running time: 85 MIN.

With

With Niyaz Abdigaparov, Zukhra Tasyrova, Yerik Zholzhaksynov, Aldabek Shaldayev.
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