Eastern Promises (HD DVD/DVD Combo)
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Viggo Mortensen and Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts star in this electrifying thriller from critically acclaimed director David Cronenberg (A History of Violence). Criminal mastermind Nikolai (Mortensen) finds his ties to a notorious crime family shaken when he crosses paths with Anna (Watts), a midwife who has accidentally uncovered evidence against them. Their unusual relationship sets off an unstoppable chain of murder, mystery and deception in the explosive film critics are calling "provocative and engrossing" (Claudia Puig, USA Today).
- Aspect Ratio : 1.85:1
- Is Discontinued By Manufacturer : Yes
- MPAA rating : s_medR R (Restricted)
- Product Dimensions : 6.5 x 5.5 x 0.25 inches; 3.2 Ounces
- Director : David Cronenberg
- Media Format : Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Run time : 3 hours and 22 minutes
- Release date : December 23, 2007
- Actors : Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl
- Dubbed: : French
- Subtitles: : English, French
- Language : English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), English (Dolby TrueHD 5.1), English (Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1), French (Dolby Digital-Plus 5.1), Unqualified (Dolby TrueHD 5.1)
- Studio : Universal Studios Home Entertainment
- ASIN : B000YENUIQ
- Number of discs : 1
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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So, going in order: Armin Mueller-Stahl is one of those actors that you would recognize if you saw him in a movie, but might not remember his name. He usually does a decent job, but here he was outstanding. He made being authoritative and menacing look so effortless. Vincent Cassel also did an excellent job as his ne'er-do-well son. He brought a sleazy quality to his character that made him really unlikeable, but at the same time pitiful. Then there's Viggo Mortensen, who I think gives his best performance to date here as Nikolai, the driver with a mysterious past. He is soft-spoken, but also has a certain amount of gravitas which adds weight to his performance. Finally, Naomi Watts is serviceable as the nurse who gets in over her head. I wouldn't say she was at the level of the other members of the cast, but she didn't stick out too much.
Story-wise, the film was rather restrained. It continued Cronenberg's recent trend of letting his body horror elements take a backseat and letting the drama unfold in a more conventional way. There aren't any earthshaking twists, but there are a few welcome surprises. What I liked, even though it could have been explored more fully, is the roles of tattoos in Russian mafia culture. Overall, I enjoyed that aspect of the film the most. There was also some of Cronenberg's trademark graphic violence, punctuated in a couple short but effective scenes. However, the centerpiece of the film is a fight in a bathhouse between Viggo Mortensen and some Chechen gangsters. Most impressive is that he does it completely in the nude with his tattoos in full view, making it a character-building moment as well as a thrilling fight scene.
Overall, while it dials back on what Cronenberg made his name doing, it is an interesting story with excellent performances across the board. I'm still not sure what the title has to do with the story as a whole, other than Russians are from Eastern Europe, but for what it's worth I liked it a lot. Save for the narrative being a little too divided at times, this new "conventional" Cronenberg works, and I enthusiastically recommend it.
Apart from that, I'd agree with most of the good reviews. It's nice to see a contained story...not ridiculously overblown. A properly written story. Real, believable stories from a real London. (I was the only person in the cinema who laughed when the simple (but deadly) young man flew into delight at getting Chelsea tickets.) The writer knows his London all right.
The cast was generally fantastic. Sinead Cusack and Jerzy Skolomowski in supporting roles! Woof!
When the film re-crosses my path these days, it is invariably the scenes with A M-S that cause me to look up and really pay attention. It's sort of like realising that the fluffy kitten you are nuzzling is actually a black mamba.
A movie made, I believe, to rid Viggo Mortensen of his Lord of the Rings image. I feel he has been moving to escape this image since LOTR finished. With Eastern Promises he surely succeeds. He plays a wheelman (or does he?)for a Russian mob now based in London. His relationship with his Captain or the son of the big boss (played by Vincent Cassel of recent Black Swan fame) is purely self-serving as he, Viggo, wants to move up & become a full member of the family. The movie does explain why later on.
He becomes embroiled in the lives of a nurse that works in the maternity ward of a hospital & a baby girl delivered from a young woman that was raped by the head of the gang. A recalcitrant Uncle of the nurse that pushes an old relationship with the KGB plays a small part too. There's a lot of male nudity in this one girls so if your wondering what Viggo looks like in all his glory this is for you but, even more very realistic violence. Lots of edged weapons & tools are employed in a very graphic manner. The blood & guts are the main remaining image by the end of the show.
I should mention there is a thin love story here but as it doesn't really serve the main purpose of the movie it is left thin & not really convincing. I love Naomi Watts as an actress but her part in this is not really central I felt & was a waste of her talent. As a vehicle to shed Viggo of the LOTR image I rate this as a five star picture. As a complete movie I give it 3.5 stars. It could of been developed into a story as big as The Godfather but wasn't. The ending is cut-off unless they intend a sequel which is more than possible. I was really surprised when the credits rolled as I didn't think they were ready to finish the tale yet. I took a half star off for that alone. My wife was surprised too.
Action movie fans will be thrilled by the first viewing of this & the small roles played by Law Enforcement are well done but there's too little of that. A better show the first time than a second viewing in my mind. (edit)I can now say I enjoyed the second showing more than the first. It is a nice look at Eastern mobs so Kudos for that. I'd call it a violence shocker but not torture porn.
Top reviews from other countries
When a Russian teenager dies in childbirth, midwife Anna Khitrova (Watts) tries to seek out any relatives so that the baby will not be put into the foster care system. Following leads written in the dead girl's harrowing diary, Anna is led to mysterious Russian chauffeur Nikolai Luzhin (Mortensen) and the underworld of the Russian Mafia.
After the critical and box office success of A History of Violence in 2005, it was no surprise to see director Cronenberg and lead man Mortensen team up again for another violent thriller. Perhaps less surprising is that it's equally as great, more proof positive that even when the great director goes mainstream he's still making powder-keg cinema.
Set in London, a seamy London at that, Eastern Promises takes a look at a criminal underworld thriving beneath the city's glossy veneer. This isn't about the rat-a-tat of machine guns, this is slow and methodical criminality, where all roads lead to pain and misery for anyone not in league with, or on the wrong side of, the Vory V Zakone. Cronenberg never lets the film go up a pace, which is absolutely to the film's benefit, even as violence is rendered, and body horror (hey this is Cronenberg after all) comes our way, it's cloaked in a controlled melancholy that just pulses with sinister beats.
Steven Knight's screenplay has a few tricks up its sleeve, not only on revelation terms, but also thematically as loyalty and family dynamics come under the microscope. There's also strong themes of identity and sexuality, again these are things that appeal to the director and he deftly inserts them into his pot-boiling conundrum. While the moral questions that Eastern Promises asks, are not answered by the makers, it is us the audience left to ponder such moral quandaries.
The look is terrific, steely neo-noir photography for city streets and scapes, pronounced reds and greens scorch the eyes in certain interiors, and muted cold colours adorn the screen for moments of murky doings. Of course tech credits are no good if the central acting performance is off form, but once again for Cronenberg, Mortensen comes up trumps with a clinical portrayal. He looks perfect physically, with his torso adorned with striking tattoos, but also his mannerisms are magnetic, effortlessly shifting between ruthless mob employee and sensitive humanitarian. He also has to play his cards close to his chest, and he does so with great skill, while his Russian accent holds superbly. Cronenberg and Mortensen researched the topic vigorously, and it shows.
Elsewhere the other actors also provide colourful and emotionally smart portrayals. Watts is a bit short changed with the character as written, and it's an irk that it never gives the actress more meat to chew on. Yet she draws you into Anna's stoic belief system with ease and she does a rather ace British accent as well. Stahl is just terrifying, the embodiment of a Godfather figure prepared to enact unspeakable crimes while ensuring the codes of family and the mob are never tampered with. And on the outer edges, with a tricky characterisation that calls for quick shifts of temperament, is Cassel, the presence and a jumping-bean bouncing around Mortensen's calm assuredness. While in secondary support it's great to see Donald Sumpter used to good effect as the senior police officer in charge of investigations.
From the early sight of blood splattering on the floor of a pharmacy, to a most brazen and astonishingly raw fight staged in a Turkish bath house, Eastern Promises is never dull or what you could term normal. And yet this is why Cronenberg is still one of the finest auteur directors out there, because Eastern Promises always plays out as frighteningly real. 8/10
The story is about Eastern EUropean criminals, who are operating in London. Unable to return home, they are carving a new niche for themselves in prostitution, drugs, and contract killing. Cronenberg struggles to recreate their unique culture and some of it works, such as the tattoo tradition, whereby their lives are displayed for anyone to see (if they are naked). Enter an innocent, Watts, who is a midwife taking care of the baby whose birth killed her mother, a sex slave from the Ukraine. Watts decides to investigate, starting with a notebook she wants to translate. Naively, she goes to a restauranteur seeking answers, a charming and mild mannered man who is not what he appears. His son (Cassell) and helper (Mortensen) are the principal characters who carry out his dirty work; their chemistry is the most believable aspect of the entire film and expertly acted. Mortensen's character is mysterious: he is a brute who can kill, but also has a sympathetic side, at least for Watts. What the film lacks in finesse, it tries to make up in violence and nudity, almost entirely of Mortensen. It didn't work for me.
time I'd heard of Vor V Zakone the thieves in law subculture. The use of tattoos seems similar to the Yakuza
Eastern Promises is a bristling film that shows the inside of the Russian Mafia. Viggo Mortenson, plays Nikolai, a driver and henchman for Semyon, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl, the owner of a trans-Siberian restaurant in London. Semyon looks like a nice old soul, but underneath he is a monster who will stop at nothing and his son, Kirill, Vincent Cassel, plays his role masterfully, a man with no conscience. Naomi Watts plays Anna, a midwife in London. She assists in the delivery of a baby born to a young 14 year old who was raped, and who dies after the birth. Anna tries to find the baby's relatives using her mother's diary. The diary is the secret life of Kirill and Semyon and their home of women used for their pleasure. Anna and Nikolai meet on several occasions, but Nikolai plays his role of the tough, haunted man to the hilt. For Anna and Nikolai, Semyon will unlock secrets neither wants to face.