Wolfhound 2006
Or, to give it the full title, Wolfhound of the Clan of the Gray Dog.(VolkodavizrodaSerykhPsov)

Country: Russia
Starring: AleksandrBukharov, Oksana Akinshina, Igor Petrenko, EvgeniyaTodorashko, AleksandrDomogarov, AnatoliyBelyy, RezoEsadze, Natalya Varley, YuozasBudraytis, Sergey Miller, AndreyRudenskiy, EvgeniyaSviridova, ArtyomSemakin, Nina Usatova, Tatyana Lyutaeva
Screenplay: NikolayLebedev
Director: NikolayLebedev
Cinematography: IreneuszHartowicz
Music: AlekseiRybnikov

Billed as “Russia’s” “Lord of the Rings” this is a sweeping tale of heroism and valor, about Wolfhound, a young hero seeking vengeance on those who killed his family and put him into slavery for many years. And it ends up with him battling a God. Good, meaty sword and sorcery film making.

But let me get this said right at the beginning – this fantasy adventure “Wolfhound” is not “Lord of the Rings” – that’s just marketing hype – this movie has its own strengths that makes it in some ways as good as LOTR and in some ways better.

Nor is it “Conan the Barbarian”, something else it’s meant to emulate according to the hype, even though some elements of the plot are similar to the Conan stories. And that’s not surprising since the movie is based on a prizewinning Russian best seller by Maria Semyonova, who translated several books by the writers of Conan novels; Robert E. Howard, Robin Hobb, L. Sprague de Camp, before she succeeded in her own literary career.

I will admit Wolfhound might be seen as a Slavic version of Conan, but this character is less clever, more sullen, more a Sergeant than General/King. He has his motives and his goals and he’s going to get there somehow, even though his do-good ethics tend to lead him onto other paths. He’s a nurturer rather than a destroyer, and he’s played extremely well by actor AleksandrBukharov, who speaks little and allows his looks and glances to tell you what he’s thinking. This film is gritty and believable, just like its main character, although with a little melodrama thrown in at times.There are grand vistas that set the stage but don’t really become a player in the game, there are amazingly well realised sets where you can feel the earthiness of the lives of the people, and there’s an ending that has you nodding in agreement, rather than applauding the director’s skill at resolving things.