4 stars

A thrilling Russian period piece, filmed epically in IMAX, this movie tells the story of Yakovlev, a retired army officer in 19th centrury Tsarist Russia who becomes a duelist. Duels with pistols were a way of resolving slights to one’s honour amongst nobility, but oddly it was acceptable to have a proxy fight for you. Played by the handsome Petr Fedorov, our anti-hero cuts a dashing figure through the streets of a muddy St Petersburg. Manipulating his targets into duelling, he is an assassin-for-hire, accumulating stacks of cash which are counted mournfully through the film by his faithful manservant. The latter clearly does not approve of his master’s new occupation and we get some backstory as to how he ended up in this position, through a clever script that reveals the puzzle in gorgeously filmed flashbacks. A romantic angle surfaces as Yaovlev is torn when he is hired to kill the brother of a beautiful princess.

This film is well worth seeing and I hope it does have an English release. Subtitles are in English, dialogue is in Russian, as well as German and Aleutian, with and odd Russian verbal interpretation when these other languages are spoken.


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