How many films about Genghis Khan can you name? A quick sweep of the internet brings up a few titles, the most high profile probably being the 1956 John Wayne film The Conquerer or the 1965 film Genghis Khan starring Omar Sharif, but considering that we’ve had the likes of 300, the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Passion of the Christ and the Conan the Barbarian remake (alright, forget that one) in recent times, it seems that the time is right for a full-on battlefield epic about the Mongolian warlord.
Well, wait a little longer we must because Genghis: The Legend of the Ten doesn’t actually feature Khan himself. Concentrating on one of his aravt’s (a unit of ten soldiers with an appointed leader who would report to one of Khan’s larger units) the film follows the unit as they are sent on Khan’s orders to find a legendary psysician that lives in the mountains with his granddaughter. On the way they discover a village that has been pillaged by enemy soldiers and amongst the ruins they find a tiny baby. The child of an enemy warrior in pursuit of the aravt, the unit must protect their find and complete their mission, which isn’t made any easier by the enemy soldiers closing in.
Genghis: The Legend of the Ten is something of a slow-burner, never going into full-on bloodbath territory and remaining fairly understated. The film unfolds at a consistent pace, with two or three main battle scenes that, whilst having a few splattery moments, seem rather restrained when put next to scenes from, say, 300. And that isn’t a negative criticism, as being too over the top with the gore would have taken away from the dramatic events that face the aravt as they strive to carry out their orders under the threat of execution from Khan if they fail.
Beautifully shot and staged, Genghis: The Legend of the Ten won’t appeal to everybody – for a start it’s in Mongolian and for a film based around a battlefield it is fairly dialogue heavy – but it is a film that draws you in, makes you care for the plight of the soldiers in the aravt and whilst it doesn’t leave you as breathless or adrenalised as The Return of the King, the esscence of the film does linger after it has finished. Worth a look if you fancy something a little different.