BLU-RAY REVIEW / FRAME SHOTS
Almira Tursyn, 26, of Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, plays warrior queen Tomiris.
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“THE LEGEND OF TOMIRIS”
Blu-ray; 2019; Not Rated, contains intense scenes, violence and some gore; streaming via Amazon Prime, Apple, FandangoNOW, Google Play, Vudu, YouTube, Redbox, DirectTV
Best extra: None
EVER HEAR the one about “Don’t get involved in a land war in Asia”? Any part of Asia.
Cyrus the Great, aka Cyrus II of Persia, should have listened. According to Greek historian Herodotus, born approximately 430-420 B.C., Cyrus was preparing to conquer Egypt, as he had so many countries, when he was diverted by a challenge from Tomiris, a warrior queen who reigned between 570 and 520 BC over a nomadic tribe in the steppes of Central Asia. She had good reason to take him on, and the action-historical by director Akan Satayev from the script by producer-writer Aliya Nazarbayeva and film writer-actor Timur Zhaksylykov provides the details.
Tribe leader Spargat (Murat Bisenbin) is expecting a son but gets a daughter instead. The mother dies in childbirth and Tomiris is raised to the sword and saddle as a warrior herself. It’s as idyllic a childhood as anyone gets in this nomadic culture until a warring tribe massacres her people and Tomiris, about 10, must run for her life. She wants revenge and spends the next decade or so in training and trying to get it. Adventure and action rule the story, sometimes forewarned by visions of a winged, flaming lion. She is adopted by a group of Amazon-like women, yet this is no fantasy.
(1) Tribal chief Spargat (Murat Bisenbin) of the Massagetae hunts with his men. (2) Game leads them into Khwarezm territory. They quickly head home after the discovery. (3) Spargat finds his wife in labor. They have been hoping for a son. (4) But Tomiris, a daughter, is born. Her mother dies shortly after giving birth.
Almira Tursyn, 26, of Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, plays Tomiris as an adult. A model, she turned to acting, with Tomiris her first role. She received extensive training under stuntman and stunt director Zhaidarbek Kunguzhinov in archery, horseback riding, swordsmanship, knife work and hand-to-hand combat. Tursyn handles it very well while delivering a stunning performance – a blend of fury, determination and passion. The scene where she and husband to be, Argun (Adil Akhmetov), propose marriage is better than anything I saw in “Game of Thrones” and with none of the excessive nudity, sex, or profanity.
The film runs more than 2.5 hours, but we never lost interest. Tomiris’ story was new to us. We enjoyed the historical setting and suspense – the sense that it could all fall apart at any time. Characters were fascinating, and scenes of tribal life even more so. Even if we guess Cyrus, played by Ghassan Massoud of Ridley Scott’s 2005 “Kingdom of Heaven,” is making a huge mistake, it’s still a guessing game as to how the battle will play out. He’s a great strategist, but so is Tomiris.
We don’t have specific info on cameras, etc., but trust Well Go USA to provide excellent picture and audio as we’ve seen in other presentations such as the “Ip Man” films, “Train to Bushan” (2016) and “Legend of the Demon Cat” (2019), all recommended.
(1) Spargat teaches his daughter “the manly arts” - riding, sword and knife play, and archery. (2) Tomiris begins to have visions that warn her of danger to come. (3&4) Tomiris escapes the slaughter of her tribe and her father, with a small group of her people. (5) Tomiris grows older as they journey from place to place. As a teen, she’s an excellent hunter-warrior, always planning to avenge her father. (5) Tomiris fights back after finding her small tribe ambushed and killed. Wounded, she finds refuge with a tribe of women warriors.
The film arrives in a two-disc package containing a Blu-ray and DVD. Aspect ratio is 2:35.1, and our guess is “The Legend of Tomiris” was digitally shot and mastered in 2K, with very little CGI. The 1080p picture looks great, presented much like Zack Snyder’s “300” (2006) with muted color. Sand and earth tones dominate, with soft blues and reds as highlights. Blood flies and pools in inky black. Tomiris wears red for her wedding and in some battle armor.
Complexions and age-related detail look authentic. Detail is good, varying between sharp and very sharp, with standout clothing texture, and scenes of waving grass, dark wood and stone, and waves of light sand drifting over the desert. Blacks are mostly solid. Wide-shots and close-ups look great, with a light and consistent wash of film grain.
According to Caspian News, filming took place throughout Kazakhstan, while beautiful custom-made, large scale scenery was built on land belonging to KazakhFilm Studio.
Tomiris is surrounded by remarkable characters including her sword sister, a brave young boy she takes under her wing, and a genuinely scary shaman-priest.
Sound is delivered with a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track in Turkish with English subtitles. Dialogue, ambient and special effects, and music are well blended, never overwhelming each other. Enjoy it as loud or soft as you want. The sweeping, orchestral score is by Renat Gaisin and Alim Zairov.
Sadly, there are no extras. That might be due to the political controversy surrounding the film, conflicts I won’t pretend to understand.
Even Herodotus wasnt 100 percent certain Tomiris killed Cyrus the Great, but local legend says she did. Who wants to argue with that? Made for $6.4 million, “The Legend of Tomiris” should plea’se adventure and history enthusiasts. After the hype surrounding Disney’s live-action “Mulan, it’s great to have a credible female warrior in the vanguard.”
— Kay Reynolds
(1&2) Young Tomiris is a natural hunter, warrior and strategist. She trains hard, but dreams of avenging Spargat and her people. (3) Tomiris rests with her warrior sister, Sardana (Aizhan Lighg), after a successful raid. She has also rescued Tiras, an orphan. “He shall be a good warrior. He lost his parents a long time ago, just as I did. I shall take care of him.” (4) Tomiris notices a young man during tribal games. Sardana names him as Argun, son of the Dahae Chief.
(1) Tomiris knows justice is near. The tribes have gathered against the Kwarezm, who have threatened them all. (2) Tomiris leads the tribes into battle. (3) Afterward, Tomiris takes her place on Spargat’s throne as ruler of the Massagetae.
(1) Argun (Adil Akhmetov) and Tomiris on their wedding day. (2) They begin a family with a son named for his grandfather. Proud young warrior-brother Tiras looks on. (3) Little Spargat lifts his sword high.