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.