Day Watch AKA Dnevnoy dozor (2006) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Review written by and copyright: Jari Kovalainen (28th October 2008).
The Film

(Note: Since this film is a sequel to “Night Watch: Nochnoi Dozor” (2004), I’ll advise you to read my earlier Blu-ray-review HERE. This review of “Day Watch” will include some minor SPOILERS, so make sure that you’ve seen “Night Watch” before reading it through).

Director/co-writer Timur Bekmambetov almost single handedly revived the Russian fantasy genre with his original and highly visual, yet rather confusing “Night Watch: Nochnoi Dozor” (2004). It was a box office smash in Russia, so it’s not really a surprise that its sequel “Day Watch” AKA “Dnevnoy dozor” (2006) was the first movie (in post-Communist Russia) to surpass the $30-million mark in its native country. While these two films are closing the story for now, the third film “Twilight Watch” AKA “Dusk Watch” (2009) is apparently planned (it should be filmed in English, but the information is rather sketchy at this point). We shall see what comes out of that, I guess.

“Day Watch” essentially picks up where the first film left off, although over a year has passed since that. The sequel keeps the original cast and many of the supporting characters have more prominent roles. A bit lonely, Anton Gorodetsky (Konstantin Khabensky) is again on the dark streets of Moscow chasing vampires, witches and other dark forces, and with him is the “Night Watch trainee” Svetlana “Sveta” Nazarova (Mariya Poroshina). Sveta is also there to bring some romance between her and Anton, and she is now the essential part of story. The always serious “Night Watch” Olga (Galina Tyunina ) is also back to the light side. They are all led by Geser (Vladimir Menshov), the strong force of the “Light Others”.

The “female energy” won’t stop there, since from the “dark” side we’ll find the beautiful Alicia (Zhanna Friske - a Russian singer-model-celebrity), a mysterious lover of the “Day Watch” leader Zavulon (Viktor Verzhbitsky). Anton's vampire neighbor Kostya (Aleksei Chadov) has also a bigger part to play in the sequel, and he’s quite interested in Alicia. The truce between the “light” and “dark” is still in effect, but only on the surface. Geser has many reasons to be worried, including the fact that Anton's young boy Yegor (Dmitry Martynov) has joined to the dark side and is said to be the new “Great One”. Can he keep the father in control? Oh, and there’s also a magical ancient artifact called “Chalk of Life”, possessing a great power. In the wrong hands, it can be fatal to humanity…

Although it’s quite impossible to really “separate” the “Night” and “Day” films, the sequel “Day Watch” manages to be the more enjoyable and accessible film of the two in some ways. There are enough oddities and confusing plot points to keep some of the mainstream-fans displeased, I’m sure (I mean the general tone hasn’t change that much), but this time you know more about the characters and their backgrounds, there are some humor and a couple of inventive story lines (Anton “switches bodies” with Olga), along with solid action-scenes (opening prologue, wild scenes with Alicia and her flashy “Mazda RX-8” car, and the “truck face-off” later in the film). The balance of the film is better and the characters more interesting. Personally, I hardly even remembered characters like Sveta and Alicia from the first film, but they are now they are an essential part of the story. You also have some romance and love (presented in a very odd way, but still), sexuality (Alicia and Kostya) and drama in the form of a relationship between the father and son (Anton and Yegor, along with Kostya and his father). On the flipside, there’s less “horror elements” this time around and perhaps a few more “vampires” here-and-there would’ve made a difference (the filmmakers call the film an “urban fantasy” and it seems that they want to steer away from the traditional “gothic elements”). The film is also quite long, being sometimes repetitive and heavy, and this all can wear you down. Then again there’s plenty of ground to cover before the end credits.

“Day Watch” does a decent job of finishing the whole story arch and eventually leaving a more positive taste of the project (meaning “Night” and “Day” films). If after “Night” many viewers felt a bit puzzled and confused (even disappointed), some of that will be “repaired” after “Day” (or perhaps not, there’s also that possibility). The sequel is not a masterpiece by any means, but visually it’s definitely rewarding and I was personally quite fond of the ending. Together (but not alone) these two films make a unique fantasy-ride (granted, for both the good and the bad), so you might as well give them a go.

Video

“Day Watch” is this time presented in 2.35:1 widescreen (1080p 24fps) and uses AVC MPEG-4 compression. Like with the first film, the print is clean and the colors and black levels strong. Some film grain is now clearly visible and with certain scenes the glimpses of noise is probably mixing up in the image. Nothing major, though. The film has many dark scenes and they usually hold up very well. The detail level is high and the whole image looks sharp and crisp. I would say, that “Day Watch” is slightly better in terms of the transfer compared to the first film (both are still very good), and that could partly be due the “improved” style of the sequel.

The Blu-ray-release is again labeled as “Unrated”, like it was the case with “Night Watch”. The confusing part is, that when the “Unrated” in “Night Watch” meant the shortened “International version”, it now actually means the original, full length “Russian version” (145:48 minutes). The shorter version for “Day Watch” was also created, but it’s not included here. Also note, that the original “Russian version” obviously doesn’t include the “animated English subtitles” (visual, often moving burned-in subtitles on the print itself in selected scenes - they work like “effects”) created for the U.S.-theatrical release. I hope this is now clear and it sadly shows how this “Unrated”-label is sometimes used in the American markets.

For more info about the differences, please see the info from IMDB (might include SPOILERS).

The film is using “BD-50”-disc and there are 40 chapters. Note, that the disc is confirmed to be "Region A" only.

Review equipment: Sony Bravia KDL-40W2000 LCD (1080p) + Playstation 3, via HDMI cable.

Audio

The disc includes the following audio tracks; original Russian DTS-HD Master 5.1 (48 kHz), dubbed English DTS 5.1 (768 Kbps), French Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps) and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 Kbps). English, English HoH, Cantonese, Korean, Mandarin, and Spanish subtitles are included.

The Russian DTS-HD MA-track kicks serious butt, since it’s loud and aggressive. The opening battle in Iran, the car scenes with Alicia, the commercial plane taking off, the various explosions and battles, and of course those parts with the “heavy metal”-score will at least keep the audio buffs alert. The minor problem is, that the dialogue is mixed rather low compared to the action-scenes, so the balance is not very ideal (and again, the main menu is also unnecessary loud - very irritating). You might not like the sound mix as a whole (at least that “heavy metal”-score feels very naïve choice in places), but technically it rocks.

Extras

The Blu-ray-release ports all the extras from the R1 SD DVD-release and most from the European SD DVD-releases as well, but the “exclusive” extras from the Russian R5 DVD-releases (extensive 4-disc also available) are not included. All extras (except “U.S. Theatrical trailer” and of course the Audio commentary) are in 480p standard definition.

-Audio commentary with director/co-writer Timur Bekmambetov is in English and is moderated (no subtitles).

-“The Making Of Day Watch - Everyone Step Out Of The Gloom” -featurette runs 26:08 minutes and is in Russian (with English HoH, French and Spanish subtitles). We hear interviews from the cast & crew (apart from some quick comments from the set, we don’t hear much from the director Bekmambetov, though), who guides the viewer through the different characters, themes of the film and a various CGI-effects, stunts and green screen work. The focus is still on the certain scenes (opening prologue, Anton “switches bodies” with Olga, Alicia dancing tango with Zavulon, car stunts and a final “birthday scene”). We also see a glimpse of what I assume is a Russian premiere of the film. It’s a bit of a dull piece, but worth to look.

-16 Russian TV-spots (listed from "A" to "P") runs 6:02 minutes (with “Play All”). They’ve also English HoH, French or Spanish subtitles.

-U.S. Theatrical trailer (2:32 minutes) is in 1080p HD.

-6 Russian Theatrical trailers (listed from "A" to "F") runs 6:18 minutes (with “Play All”). English HoH, French or Spanish subtitles are included.

-Bonus trailer for "Fox BD promo" (1:58 minutes) runs before the "Main menu", but can be skipped.

While not really considered as “extras”, the disc has one additional option;

-D-Box Motion Code: You can watch the movie using your “D-Box” integrated motion system. For more info, visit their homepage HERE. This includes the following info-sections: “Feel The Film”, “System Overview”, and “Loading D-Box Motion Code”.

The disc is packaged in a standard Blu-ray case.

Overall

“Day Watch” is not a sequel that tells a new and fresh story, so you basically have to see the “Night Watch” first to fully enjoy (and understand) it. Eventually it comes down to the matter of taste which one you really prefer, but despite the many subplots and sometimes rather “unfocused” approach, I found (perhaps surprisingly so) “Day Watch” more enjoyable effort. The whole project made me wonder about those often missed “horror elements”, but then again director Bekmambetov has wanted to do something different. That’s surely the case, whether you like these films or not.

Blu-ray -presentation is again very good, with thunderous DTS-HD MA-audio and some extras.

For more info, please visit the homepage of Fox Blu-ray.

The Film: Video: Audio: Extras: Overall:

 


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