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Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea (DVD Review)

24 Aug, 2008 By: Matt Miller

Genghis Khan

Street 9/2/08
$24.98 DVD
Rated 'R' for some violence.

In Japanese with English subtitles.
Stars Takashi Sorimachi, Rei Kikukawa, Mayumi Wakamura.

Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea is a monumental biopic detailing the rise to power of the man responsible for building one of the world's largest empires.

Spanning 45 years, from 1161 to 1206, the film follows the passionate emperor's battle to tear down borders and unite the nomadic Mongol tribes under one ruler: himself.

This $30 million production, which was filmed over four months and featured more than 27,000 extras and 5,000 Mongolian Army soldiers, is loaded with spectacular fighting sequences reminiscent of those in The Last Samurai. But the real focus of the film is what happened off the battlefield, which prepared a man named Temüjin (Sorimachi) to become a great warrior, and one of the world's most feared and respected leaders.

The film portrays Genghis Khan as a hero — determined to bring his countrymen together, never backing down from a fight, and refusing to pillage the tribes he defeated. It was this noble, brave and altruistic ideology that made him so beloved by his followers and despised by his enemies.

This sounds like a lot of ground to cover in two hours, but the filmmakers do a phenomenal job creating a beautifully crafted masterpiece that will be praised by history buffs and enjoyed by anyone who loves a legendary epic. In fact, the filmmakers put such great detail into everything from the weapons to the costumes to the breathtaking cinematography, including recruiting an exceptional cast led by Sorimachi as Genghis Khan, that when Temüjin is named Genghis Khan at the end of the film, you wish this was only part one in a saga.

The film, which was released as a Japanese-Mongolian co-production commemorating the 800-year anniversary of the founding of the Mongol Empire, also has been featured as an official selection at film festivals worldwide and saw a limited theatrical release in the United States earlier this year.

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