Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Underwhelming would be the best way to describe this epic story of the land of Kazakhstan, and it’s probably not all the filmmakers fault either.  If you look at the box cover to the left there you can see that the marketing clowns were hard at work trying to grab the ‘300’ dollar and it worked as far as getting my Netflix dollar out my pocket, but ‘Nomad’ was more, hell I don’t know, ‘Reds’ than ‘300’.  An epic tale with beautiful landscapes and wonderful photography with a definite story to tell, but with very little excitement or thrills.

Back in the day (hell if I can remember the time period though they all cruised on horses though), the Kazaks were a peaceful people, though descended from legendary warrior Genghis Khan.  An angry warring tribe, the Jungars, desires to control the land as angry warring tribes are wont to do, and though they fight gamely, it’s just a matter of time until the Jungars take over what they perceive as theirs.  There is a prophecy though, as our narrator the always prophesying Oraz (Jason Scott Lee) tells us, that a warrior descended from the great Khan will be born and lead his people to freedom.  Well Sultan Galden Ceren (Dskhan Zholzhaksvnov) goes all pharaoh on us to learn who the child is, and decides to have it killed.  Fortunately Oraz saves the child and with the blessing of the child’s father raises him along with a group of other boys to become a great warrior.

Mansur (Kuno Becker) grows into man, side by side with his best friend Erali (Jay Hernandez), and is the finest warrior with his boy Erali being close second.  As happens in epics like these there is a young woman, Gaukhar (Ayana Yesmagambetova), who has captured the heart of both young men leading to more complications.  When the

time comes to face the sultan’s greatest fighter Sharish (Marc Dacascos), Erali wants the honor but Oraz gives the task to Mansur.  Only now does the Sultan Wali let Mansur knows that he the son of a king.  Well talk about a bad day for poor Erali who finds out his best friend is the son of a king and he’s not, is the better warrior who gets to kill the bad guy and also gets his girls heart.  Thinking that this some serious B.S., Erali leaves to be on his own because it’s his ‘destiny’, which we hear a lot of in this flick.  Some other stuff happens in our adventure but somehow we have to get the great battle where Mansur becomes the man we hope him to be and lead his people to FREEDOM!  Or something.

Directed by Sergei Bodrov and Ivan Passer, ‘Nomad’ is a gloriously filmed epic full of wide shots of horses racing and sprawling landscapes.  Comfortable with the knowledge this film isn’t ‘300’ and isn’t by any means trying to be ‘300’ but something much more, all of the elements are there for a grand film.  The elements just don’t come together however as the narrative, though based on a true story, is just too generic to be completely compelling.  Just watching ‘Nomad’ gives the viewer the feeling that they’ve seen this story before in other movies and executed with greater panache than is presented in this period piece.  Though there are action scenes, they don’t pulsate with a heck of a lot of energy, particularly the climax where while you KNEW you were watching a battle than would shape the history of a people, you certainly didn’t feel it.  Certain plot points, such as the love triangle between Erali, Mansur and Gaukhar were glossed over, and the character of Erali certainly got the short end of the stick with his particular ‘Destiny’.  ‘It is to be as it had to be’ he would tell us.  Whatever man.  It’s gonna be what I say it’s gonna be.

The performances were perfunctory as Kuno Becker and Jay Hernandez were doing their best with what they had to work with, though one must admit that our Hispanic actors playing along side a cast of Asian Kazaks did look a bit out of place, but all in all the performances were fairly unremarkable.

The element that almost rescues this rather formulaic epic was the breathtaking scenery and photography.  Filmed largely in Kazakhstan, the terrain becomes a character all its own pulsating with the energy that the film itself lacks, with its sweeping panoramas and glorious skies.   Unfortunately this isn’t enough to save what could have been a very good movie with some tighter direction and of course a different DVD box cover that was designed NOT to trick consumers into seeing something that ‘Nomad’ never intended itself to be.

Real Time Web