Reviewed at Vancouver Intl. Film Festival, Nov. 7, 1993. Running time: 100 MIN.
With: Konstantin Fyodorov, Zhanna Isina, Gennadi Shatunov, Alexander Aksyonov.
(Russian dialogue; English subtitles)
A cockeyed nod to Sergio Leone and “Mad Max” movies, “The Wild East” doesn’t add much except stark Central Asian locales to the dusty, apocalyptic genre.
Here, the Man With No Name (played by Konstantin Fyodorov, a white-haired Alexander Godunov type) is an amoral drifter in a vaguely futuristic post-Soviet wasteland. He’s tracked down by a member of the Solar Children — a band of circus midgets and dwarves hiding out in the desolate Tian-Shan mountains — who want him to help defend their rocky enclave against roving bands of bikers and ex-military types.
Faster than you can say “Seven Samurai,” the cheroot-puffing anti-hero finds an ape-suited daredevil, a hard-drinking sharpshooter, and a smart-cookiedriver named Marilyn (non-blond Zhanna Isina) to aid in the uneven struggle.
Nothing new happens, but several set pieces, including a nighttime confrontation with the death’s-head-festooned biker-king (his minions wear SS regalia and listen to loud Russian rock), are handled with flair.
No-budget pic is too underplotted and underpopulated (most of the crew shows up onscreen) to raise Western pulses, save in the most specialized midnight circuits. Allegorical references to the collapse of the Soviet military, including a subplot about a renegade, won’t travel at all.
But helmer Nougmanov — elected head of Kazakh filmers after the 25 -million-viewer success of his first effort, “The Needle”– has talent to burn, and his recent move to France bodes well for next-round exposure.