By Kim Matzke
Mongul explores the life of Temudgin (Tadanobu Asano) who will eventually become the great and fearsome Ghenghis Khan. The story begins when he is only 9 years old and must already choose his future wife from a neighboring tribe. He takes the journey with his father, the Khan, who has been painstakingly grooming Temudgin to take his place….eventually. Well, “eventually” comes sooner than either expected and we are given a tiny look into what could possibly have been the harsh reality of life as a Mongul, out on the plains and exposed to the elements and the enemies of one’s family.
Young Temudgin eventually finds refuge with Jamukha and they form a bond of brotherhood that will last well into their adult lives.
Eventually Temudgin reaches adulthood, although sometimes you might question his survival considering how the odds were obviously stacked against him. Now is the time for him to come into his own, collect his wife Borte (Khulan Chuluun) and begin his life anew. Well, we all know that nothing is ever that easy. More family enemies arrive and steal away his new bride. Needless to say, this does not sit well with Temudgin and he makes plans with Jamukha to retrieve her.
Thus begins his adult lessons in adversity and strength that will eventually form him into the great leader that we’ve all come to know, love and fear.
While this is a foreign film with subtitles, don’t let that scare you off. Halfway through the movie, they’re hardly noticeable anymore since you are easily drawn into a well told story surrounded by picturesque scenery and well executed battle scenes.
I have no idea if this movie is historically accurate, but I do know that I came away with a feeling that I learned a considerable amount about the Mongul culture. I also thought the costumes and sets were wonderful and gave a feeling of accuracy to me that added to the entire movie experience. The battle scenes had just enough gore to add realism without going over the top with guts and yuck. At one point, I really could feel Tengri’s (Mongul god) anger as he made his contribution (or did he?) during a particularly important battle.
If you’re into history and like a good period flick, then I would say that you definitely need to put this movie on your “must see” list. Personally, I think it needs to also be in your home library right along with “Lion in Winter” and “13th Warrior”.