Review: ‘Sword Bearer’

Part gory revenge drama, part love story, nearly all rubbish, Russian pic "Sword Bearer" reps a dismal third outing for helmer Filipp Yankovsky ("The State Counsellor").

Part gory revenge drama, part love story, nearly all rubbish, Russian pic “Sword Bearer” reps a dismal third outing for helmer Filipp Yankovsky (“The State Counsellor”). Yarn about a moody guy with a rapier that sprouts magically out of his right hand slashed its way to a hefty cume upwards of $3.5 million after its domestic release in October, but offshore buyers aren’t likely to bite unless in desperate need of horror fodder for ancillary markets.

For reasons never quite explained (the fault, perhaps, of ropey subtitles on version caught), scowling youth Sasha (Artyom Tkachenko) develops a handy habit of sprouting a sword from his body that’s capable of growing tens of feet when his dander is up. Instead of using this skill to chop vegetables, say, or open tricky envelopes, Sasha goes on a killing spree, starting with his once-abusive father (Aleksei Zharkov). Along the way, he falls in love with pretty Katya (currently ubiquitous Chulpan Khamatova), but must, of course, joust with her ex-b.f. to keep her. Wonderfully silly climax, involving the destruction of a forest and helicopter, could elevate the pic to camp-classic status.

Sword Bearer

Russia

Production

A Kinokompaniya CTB production. (International sales: Intercinema, Moscow.) Produced by Sergei Selyanov. Executive producer, Sergei Dolgoshein. Directed by Filipp Yankovsky. Screenplay, Konstantin Syngayevsky, based on a book by Yevgeni Danilenko.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta), Marat Adelshin; editor, Yaroslav Mochalov; music, Igor Vdovin; production designer, Yelena Zhukova; costume designer, Aleksandra Gofman. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (market), Feb. 13, 2007. Original title: Mechenosets. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Artyom Tkachenko, Chulpan Khamatova, Leonid Gromov, Aleksei Zharkov, Aleksei Gorbunov, Nadezhda Markina, Tatyana Lyutayeva.

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