September 1, 2009 in DVD Reviews
Directed By: Nikolai Lebedev
He was condemned to death, but survived to wreak revenge for the murder of his clan. The last member of the clan of the Grey Hounds became a fearless warrior by the name of Wolfhound. After cheating death in the mines, Wolfhound sets out on a journey with his constant companion, the Earthbound Bat. Wolfhound has but one desire – to destroy the Maneater, a merciless warrior who slaughtered the village of the Grey Hounds.
The 2006 Russian Fantasy film Wolfhound, based on the novel by Maria Semyonova, is a welcomed entry in the Fantasy genre. Not enough of these movies are made, and when they are they are pretty horrible (Dungeons and Dragons). So, when one comes around and is actually pretty awesome, reading subtitles is the least of my concerns. Finally released on DVD in 2009, Wolfhound is an awesome ride. If you love movies like Conan, Beastmaster, Krull and Lord of the Rings, then you’ll adore this little film.
Most “mainstream” movie goers probably won’t have the patience for Wolfhound. There are subtitles, the effects and make up aren’t grade A (but nontheless impressive), a fight choreographer could have elevated some scenes, and the story is pretty standard as fare as Fantasy goes. Basically, the warrior bent on revenge, gets caught up in a journey along with a rag tag band of characters. But, like most good films, the execution is what makes Wolfhound soar above most recent movies of this genre.
First, let’s talk about the effects. For the most part I was reminded of the 80s fantasy movies I loved growing up: Conan, Krull, The Beastmaster; yet slightly enhanced by CGI. While not eye candy CGI, it serves the story and the filmmakers were smart to use it wisely. It never is Sci Fi Channel (sorry . . . SyFy) bad, and while noticeable in some areas, it’s not distracting at all. Also, hats off to the filmmakers for using practical blood spatter in most shots. Nothing takes me out of a movie more than digital blood splatters.
All the acting is surprisingly top notch. Way better than the 80s movies I referenced. Aleksandr Bukharov plays Wolfhound and he’s pretty badass. He does a great job of relaying the pain, suffering, torment and suppressed rage of a character who’s entire family is murdered and then, as a child, forced to work in a mine as a slave. He’s the quiet hero, who only speaks when necessary, but the amount of emotion conveyed through his eyes is impressive.
Wolfhound is a pretty impressive little film. For being a small, independent Russian film it looks great and is a lot of fun. It’s flaws add a special charm to the film, if it was technically perfect I’m not sure if I would love it as much. You can tell that the filmmakers put their heart and soul into Wolfhound, and sometimes that in itself is enough to create a great journey. I really hope more people discover Wolfhound, if you love Fantasy and a well told story, pick this up today!