Ramshackle charm and a Mongolian “khan”-do attitude make “Operation Tatar” a diverting if bloody contempo comedy crimer. The rare Mongol films that invade other regions are often bathed in soothing rustic balm, but helmer Baatar Bat-Ulzii shows there’s more happening in Central Asia than just Eastern arthouse oaters. Having already slipped past the geographical guidelines of Udine’s Far East Asian Film Festival, pic should rely on curiosity value to lure genre fests and ancillary distribs seeking exotic fare.
After stoic clerk Taivan (Borkhuu Amarkhuu) is fired from his bank job, his scrap-metal-yard-dwelling buddy, Tulgaa (Ganbold Erdenebileg) argues a heist is the only reasonable payback. The pair assemble an under-equipped, inexperienced gang, and the yarn becomes a boisterous, violent mix of rough melodrama, off-color humor and Tarantinoesque time-shuffling. A brief, colorful folk-dance number reveals Bollywood’s influence, though the musicvideo-slick helming relies too much on slo-mo and recycled shots to pad out the slim story. Still, if Bat-Ulzii and his hammy actors ever get a bigger budget from the restaurant chain that helped bankroll this effort, future enterprises will be worth a look. HD lensing puts a gloss on low production values.