Wednesday, September 21, 2011


(September 2007, U.S.)

When you think about the career of director David Cronenberg, I suppose his film making reputation could be compared to that of Steven Spielberg. In the beginning, it appeared that the man was geared only toward one type of film - in Cronenberg's case, gory horror films that included RABID and the remake of THE FLY. But then, all of a sudden, he's changing his form and his style and suddenly you're getting titles like NAKED LUNCH (1991), M. BUTTERFLY (1993), A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (2005) and EASTERN PROMISES. But rest assured, though, that while I can't claim to have seen M. BUTTERFLY, the others that I mentioned are not without their share of unsettling gore. In fact, EASTERN PROMISES, a story about a British-Russian midwife's interaction with the Russian mafia in London and the subsequent sex trafficking of underage Russian girls, is one of the bloodiest crime films I've ever seen.

Viggo Mortensen's role of mob driver and "problem cleaner" Nikolai Luzhin comes off as pretty much the same kind of man you've seen ol' Viggo play before - the very silent and very deadly type. Anna Khitrova (played by Naomi Watts), is the above-mentioned midwife who finds a Russian-language diary on the body of Tatiana, a 14-year-old girl who dies in childbirth. She also finds a business card for the Trans-Siberian restaurant, which is owned by Semyon (played wonderfully by Armin Mueller-Stahl), a boss in the Russian Mafia or "vory v zakone" ("thieves in law"). Anna thus sets out to track down the girl's family so that she can find a home for the dead mother's baby girl. She risks her life in doing so because the mafia wants the incriminating diary destroyed and anybody who has any knowledge of it, as well.

Now in order to disucss this next part, I'm force to give away the fact that Nikolai is eventually revealed as an FSB agent who has infiltrated the mafia, working under license by the British Government. As part of his undercover duties, Nikolai was able to read Tatiana's diary before Semyon had it destroyed and hatched a plan to have Semyon arrested for statutory rape. However, I don't think it's particularly one hundred percent clear if his proposal to take over as "king" of the mafia sector is strictly a part of his cover or if he's suddenly decided to grab an opportunity to "turn to the dark side" and embrace the temptation of power. Listen to the dialogue and how it plays out in its applicable scene and you'll see what I mean.

With regard to the rather infamous knife fight in the sauna, I don't know what I find more unsettling - the excessive blood involved or the fact that I have to look at Viggo's totally naked ass and dick during the fight. I suppose straight women and gay men are getting a kick out of it, but for me...hmmmm.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Anna Khitrova: "Tell Semyon the baby I delivered last Sunday is his daughter."
Kirill: "What did she say?"
Nikolai Luzhin: "I don't know."
Anna: "When he raped her she was a virgin. They they gave her pills. He HAS to be the father!"

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