The disk opens with three film trailers then cuts to a psudo advert for a shopping channel and amongst the everyday sales items they are selling AK47's –the film is actually sanctioned by Amnesty international, but the next add is really bizarre. The disk then cuts to the main screen of play, select scenes and set up. This is simply a no frills DVD.
The film opens to the iconic scene of Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) standing amid the latest war-torn carnage where the ground is carpeted by spent cartridges as he starts to tell the story. Orlov is the son of refugees from the Soviet Union (more precisely Ukraine) who had pretended to be Jewish immigrants in order to get into the United States. Orlov and his brother Vitaliy (Jared Leto) are both ‘lost’ and headed nowhere. After witnessing a mob hit on a restaurant, Orlov decides he’s going to sell guns. We see his first sale to a mobster and follow his career as it grows through the 1980’s but it’s the fall of the Soviet Union and the scramble for Africa that really kicks off his success.
The film is shot in a mock ‘fly on the wall’ documentary style as we witness his rise to success and watch as he manipulates those around him. I won’t give much more away other than to say it’s all based on real world events and just like a documentary you are bombarded with statistics and facts relating to the times and the arms trade. Although these are mostly blended into the story quite well, in certain places some do jar and seem patronising which destroys the atmosphere being a bit too overbearing [lose a star].
However, despite the subject and often cavalier approach, the film does try to show a moralistic outlook. Cage plays his usual laid back style to perfection but I soon found him at odds with the character he was playing. The real star of the film has to be Eamonn Walker who plays André Baptiste Sr. [President of Liberia] with a frightening psychotic realism. The film also has some humorous moments such as why you shouldn’t park your cargo plane on an African dirt road and how you can ship a combat helicopter to a war zone because the paperwork is all in order. Another bizarre fact is that the production team rented 3000 real SA Vz 58 rifles to stand in for AK 47s because they were cheaper to use than prop guns.
Despite being a tad over 2 hours this 2005 never felt dated or boring, but I guess its one of those films you’ll either love or hate. If you liked things like ‘The last King of Scotland’ ‘Grosse Point Blank’ or ‘Blood Diamonds’ this could be for you and at under £3 for a new disk you might as well take a chance..
Nick Cage drily and informatively tells us over this film a long catalogue of how bad he is, how wicked his customers are and every little trade secret that every self-respecting arms dealer should know.
That dealing in arms isn't actually illegal and he doesn't do wrong. Well, much, except as he points out that the law comes in three colours - black, white and grey - and grey is his favourite colour. It's the people who choose to use his products that are at fault and unlike alcohol and tobacco, which he cites as killing more people, there's always the safety catch.
Under Yuri Orlov's (Cage) cynical commentary lie a whole stream of stylish and superbly directed (by Andrew Nicol) set pieces, filmed all over the world. Often ironic and hypercritical, even comic, these all highlight the absurdities of the arms trade and its connotations.
Orlov, always seen as a businessman dressed in suit and tie, is the son of a Ukrainian, brought up on the dog eat dog streets of Brooklyn. Escalation into the world of weaponry brings him his trophy wife, Ava (Bridget Moynahan) and a son, who he hardly ever sees. And his difficult, junkie brother, Vitaly (Jared Leto) who is always in a scrape and often needs bailing out, cash wise and emotionally.
It's these personal distractions that ultimately bring Orlov's world down round his knees, as he finds out too late, you cannot escape family, even if you can (temporarily) from your sins. Despite what I've just said, there's no treacly preaching and sermonising.
Criticisms I've seen are that all this smart gloss and witty dialogue simply coats a lacquer over the whole contentious issue and that alienates both the subject and the viewer. That it belittles both. I disagree, in that firstly, people watching will be expecting the sharp Nicolas Cage to be in an entertaining, well directed and entertaining action movie. That it does, without question. That the film then raises further issues, ones that might make the viewer think is a plus. You cannot pile-drive information, however "good" into people, you have to add sugar to the pill.
Ultimately, this is a good, entertaining movie that you can watch a few times. It's always refreshing, bright and quick, despite its near two hour length. That it sobers one up, morally, as it goes along is definitely a good thing, too.
on 29 January 2009
'Lord of War' is a spectacular film in every sense of the word, with neither the story getting in the way of the message or the message getting in the way of the story.
Indeed, even the spoof 'QVC' commercial before the film, offering AK47's to anyone who can afford to pay is worth the price of the DVD. But in the end, the film boils down to that immortal quote by Edmund Burke:
"Evil prevails when good men do nothing."
Or as Nicholas Cage states rather bluntly, "Evil Prevails."
By far the most powerful example of this is the character of the Gunrunner's brother; a 'Good Man' who is sickened and enraged by the sight of the weapons his brother sells being used to murder women and children. But instead of killing his brother or even speaking up, he struggles to drown out the screams of his conscience by turning to booze and cocaine.
Towards the end of the film however, he tries to do the right thing; giving his life in the failed attempt to protect a refugee camp full of women and children. But by then, it is already far too late, and the massacre still goes ahead as planned.
Of course, it's the President of Liberia who has some of the best lines in the film.
"A 'USED' Gun? That's a good one."
"I try to set an example but it is difficult, eh. Personally, I blame MTV."
"A bullet from a 14 year old is just as effective as one from a 40 year old. Often more effective. No one can stop this bath of blood."
But when push comes to shove, it is Nicolas Cage's soliloquy after he's been arrested which really drives the nail home:
"Soon there's gonna' be a knock on that door and you will be called outside. In the hall, there will be a man who outranks you. First, he'll compliment you on the fine job you've done; that you're making the world a safer place, that you're going to receive a commendation, a promotion. And then he's going to tell you that I am to be released.
You're gonna' protest. You'll probably threaten to resign. But in the end I will be released.
The reason I'll be released is the same reason that you think I'll be convicted. I do rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of those men are the enemies of your enemies. And whilst the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss, the President of the United States who ships more merchandise in a day then I do in a year, sometimes its embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns. Sometimes he needs freelancers like me to supply the forces he can't be seen supplying."
And finally, just to annoy those people who still support the `War on Terror,' here is a quote from an American comedian that really sums up this "Battle of Good vs. Evil" for me:
"Saddam has terrible weapons of Mass destruction."
"How do you know?"
"Err, we looked at the receipt."
on 3 April 2006
I am not going to compare this film with the greatness of Dr Strangelove, but I cant help drawing similarities; this film looks upon a violent, evil and destructive situation with the same absurdity as Kubrick's masterpiece, and doesnt do a bad job of it.
Cage is as weak as in any other film he's acted in, but I like that here. He actually had me convinced that the character holds no strong feelings towards the despicable trade he has immersed himself in, and approaches it with the same 'same s***, different day' attitude of anyone who works a normal 9-5 job. Finally, poor acting pays off!
The film is stylish and humorous enough to keep some of the drama from being harrowing, which would have been out of place in a film like this. I particularly liked the 'day in the life of a bullet' title sequence, which set the tone of the film perfectly.
To the guy who wrote "And are FBI agents so stupid as to be conned by the last minute paint job on the ship with a stack of guns on board?" 1: I dont think they were FBI agents, and 2: I think, for their case to hold up in court, they would need a warrant or probable cause to board and search the boat. If it's not the boat they're searching for and have no justifiable reason for suspicion, they can do nothing. Just a guess of course, as I am not an expert on international law.
A brilliant soundtrack and a fun film which I definitely recommend. Sadly it seems apparent that some people approach this film, expecting it to be something it's not.
on 6 October 2007
The acting in this film is well done. They all sell their respective parts. In this movie we follow Yuri Orlov (Nicholas Cage) from his early days in the early 1980s as an immigrant in New York to the present. One day when checking out menu of their family's competition across the street, he is witness to a Russian Mob assassination attempt. Of course the amount of ammo being used grabs Yuri's attention. For he thinks everyone needs bullets. And this is all he needs to try his hand at gun running.
He starts off his business by being a reseller of Uzi's in New York and works his way up to arming countries. As Yuri deals his product, the repercussions of his sales are not glossed over. We see the havoc and death they bring. The sad part of the movie is what Yuri says is true; most of what he does is legal. Yuri is a brilliant businessman and criminal, and can think on his feet. The movie has the feel of reality to it.
When you see the volumes of arms he sells and the death it brings. It makes a strong statement. But I think the bigger statement is the fact that the five largest arms dealers in the world are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council itself (U.S., China, France, Great Britain and France). And they continue to sell to whom ever will buy.
Watch this movie. There are no spots in where you will be bored. But I will suggest that you do not let your young children watch it, for there are some very bloody and realistic death scenes.
'Lord of War' is a film which follows the life and career of Yuri Orlov (played by Nicholas Cage, who was also a producer), a Russian man who moved with his family when a young boy to the USA; for almost all his adult life he has been a professional international small-arms dealer. On Blu-ray it looks excellent and, despite the audio soundtrack 'only' being Dolby Digital 5.1, sounds very good.
As there are spotlights on tragedy, strife and morality it is perhaps tempting to pigeon-hole the genre of the film more precisely, but I would label it as a drama with some elements of being a thriller (so don't expect anything like 'Die-Hard' !). However, I am quite certain that it is not, as the Amazon synopsis refers to it, a 'black-comedy' in the general sense of how I judge such films; I don't think there are any laughs to be had nor opportunities to refer to various occurrences as bleakly ironic. There are obviously some very serious aspects to what it depicts, namely: the often nasty personalities involved and eventual victims of the 'products' being bought/sold, but the overall aim is to 'lighten' the associated moral messages with stylistic, often novel, production-values and a snappy musical soundtrack. Be in no doubt though, that whilst the presentation is designed to entertain the overall aim is to inject those moral messages into your thought process....
The opening of the movie reinforces that concept, by way of an artistic collation of scenes depicting the 'journey' of a bullet from manufacture to being fired into the head of a young African boy who himself is firing a gun; aside from being unusual in presentation, the message derived from what we see is clear - things are usually dealt with more subtly from then on. We are then introduced to Yuri, by himself, and see the rest of the film (which covers a period of several decades, starting in the 1980s) from his viewpoint with him providing regular voiceover 'annotations'. As we not only see his globetrotting activities, but also 'hear' his thoughts (which obviously often raise contradictions !), some attempt can be made to understand the dilemmas he often finds himself in whilst remembering all along that he is arms-trading voluntarily and for profit, so ultimately we should feel little sympathy for him. We also see how his profession affects his personal life and essentially that his apparently pleasant persona is really a veneer covering someone who is really quite cold and without scruples. Finally, interspersed amongst his primary dealings, the attempts of officialdom to bring him to justice are covered....
The production-values (signposted by that previously mentioned opening sequence) of this film are excellent, with many stylish scenes involving dramatic action, explosions, backdrops and tailored musical accompaniment. The action involves those explosions, some flying sequences, a dramatic aircraft landing and (of course) quite a bit of weaponry being fired. It is notable to observe that little, perhaps no, CGI is used for the special-effects although a bit of digital jiggery-pokery clearly is employed when the cast and ironmongery or explosions get into close proximity ! In the same vein, almost all the weaponry is genuine - right down to us seeing several thousand rifles stored in a warehouse or a long row of smartly presented Russian T-72 main-battle tanks !
Without giving anything important away, a good example of the type of production you can expect would be a short slow-motion scene where Yuri watches a 'customer' firing a Kalashnikov rifle, which is accompanied by the song 'Money (That's What I Want)' by the The Flying Lizards with each cartridge ejection embellished with the sound-effect of a cash-till 'ringing'. Similarly, and for once, it is safe to watch the 2min theatrical trailer (Internet video sites have it) to get an idea of the way the film is made and will pan out, without spoiling a later viewing of the complete movie....
Contrary to some other reviewers I found the HD image to be sharp, bright and clear without any obvious or intrusive grain or 'snow' to spoil things; the reproduction of black-levels and scenes in dark surroundings (of which there are quite a few) is especially good. Similarly, the soundtrack has great clarity and is very lively, despite 'only' being Dolby Digital 5.1; this movie on Blu-ray shows that, like the similarly specified disc of 'The Island', you don't necessarily need an HD audio format to produce the necessary level of clarity and power for the sound to be impressive.
This disc includes an insightful director's commentary, several featurettes/interviews (the words from which often are included in the featurettes so there is some repetition), deleted scenes and a trailer - all in all a Blu-ray worth getting and watching.
on 31 January 2006
“THERE ARE OVER 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?”
The opening words to Nicolas Cage’s new smash hit, Lord of War.
The plot centres around Yuri Orlov (Cage) a Ukrainian refugee who makes his million in gun running with his younger brother Vitaly, played by the ever growingly popular and understandably so, Jared Leto.
The movie tracks Yuri’s progress from working in his parent’s café in Little Odessa, to selling guns to Russian mobsters in his local neighbourhood to conquering the worlds market in tanks, bazookas and machine guns for wars spanning the world’s surface.
As well as tackling the morality of what he’s doing to the world Yuri tries to keep his wife and son in the dark and keep his cocaine-ridden brother at bay.
In a recent interview talking about the film Jared Leto says the film is “Part political film, part social commentary, part character study and entertaining all at the same time, it’s a fascinating movie.” And it really is, it sets aside all the conventions of political cinema before it and really cracks down with an explosion of a movie that avoids that feeling of being lectured like so many others have fallen victim to in the past and really hits the spot to entertain with a star studded cast, sex, guns and drugs really dragging in the younger audience to what would be an 18 rated movie if it wasn’t for the moral messages involved.
Leto also says that he thought Lord of War felt like a huge movie even though it’s an independent film, he says “We were shooting in planes and there was explosions and guns, it really just seemed like a giant film.” And it does, it really lives up to the big Hollywood pictures, this is chiefly due to Nicolas Cage’s great contributions to the film as producer. He wanted this film out there and felt strongly and passionately about the messages involved as it appears did all of the rest of the cast and crew.
As well as the visual effects the screenplay is also eloquently written, it’s funny, it’s intelligent, it’s thought provoking, at one point in the film Yuri’s father asks him ‘Is this really how you want to be remembered?’ ‘I don’t want to be remembered’, Yuri replies, ‘that means I’m dead’, a quote the better educated of us will recognise as from Oscar Wilde but could quite easily be mistaken as the screenwriter, Andrew Niccol’s own work. Who, incidently also wrote the gem that is ‘The Truman Show’.
Andrew Niccol also directed the film and did a bloody good job while he was at it, he is obviously as set as Nicolas Cage in this one.
Is gun running right? Is it right to equip the poorest societies on earth with the means to keep killing each other? Is it right to provide guns that children as young as 10 will use to kill people? Is it right to fuel blood hungry people with the means to commit genocide? Is it right to feed societies like Mozambique that feel that firearms are so important to their society that they would display an AK47 on their flag?
The answers to these questions need to be explored and I’m glad there’s now a movie out there that has the balls to do it.
Basing it’s arguments on a much more global scale, Lord of War uses wars from all around the world as examples of the harm America’s exports can have as well as the problems within the country itself, that, as well as the fact that this movie succeeds where others have failed before, in making an informative, political film that doesn’t feel like a lecture about the ever increasing lack of morals in western society, Michael Moore’s hit in 2002 with Bowling for Columbine attempted to bring the worlds attention to the great problems of firearms in American society and the movie completely over looked the problems that America’s exports have on the rest of the world and while it’s funny in places a person completely unconcerned with politics could not sit through it in the same way that they can through Lord of War. As well as getting the message across Lord of War is a spectacular piece of entertainment.
The movie tackles a lot of personal issues as well as the politics involved, Nicolas Cage’s character has a habit of ignoring his conscience in order to succeed in life and is for the most part blinded by greed and won’t consider anything if it’s going to get in the way of what he wants. The film even used a cover of an old Beatles song ‘Money, that’s what I want’ which acts almost like a theme, it is the song chosen to sport the trailer and is certainly the song I had stuck in my head the whole way down the street from the cinema.
When trying to convince his younger brother, Vitaly, to join him in his gun running business he says that they’re not getting anywhere, he says ‘We’re doing shit with our lives.’ To which Vitaly answers, ‘Maybe nothing’s better than doing this.’ But is eventually turned round to Uri’s way of thinking after being tempted by Yuri’s research into profit margins and joins his business with him.
Later on when his wife is trying to convince him to quit gun running and tells him he’s made enough money and he needn’t do it anymore Yuri tells her that it’s got nothing to do with the money that he’s doing this, he says he does it because it’s the only thing he’s ever been good at, and it really hits home to people, or it certainly did to me that that did seem like a very good reason to do what he does, it may not make it right but it certainly makes it more understandable.
A real cracker of a film that deserves the attention of the public, it has a story to tell and morals to get across, and even if you’re not into all of that political hoo hah it’s a great film with sex, drugs, guns and explosions. You must see this film. Over and out.
on 11 June 2006
This film manages to walk the tightrope of being an edgy and enjoyable critique of the international arms trade, no preaching and no easy answers, and yet managing to present us with the terrifying facts.
The locations were are stunningly shot, and the action scenes excellent.
The acting is variable, Cage is on his best form, but his 'brother' (Jared Leto?) is better at being cute than he is at being convincing.
Not a 'feel-good' film... some of the scenes are gritty, and it leaves you with more questions than answers... but well-worth a watch.
on 25 April 2006
A very well crafted film. beautifuly shot, well directed, good script and very well acted.
This is a true antihero movie. The main character is a complete evil git and he makes no apoligises for it and the film dosent have him being driven to it by dire circumstances. he just is what he is and he dosnt care much.
What is intresting is that you still really like him and dont want him to get caught!!!!
Lord of War is thought provoking and manages to do this without coming across as preachy or deep and meaning full. well worth a look.
If you're after non-stop action, like the reviewers who found this boring clearly were, then avoid. This is a proper movie, not a mindless hollywood effects-fest. It has a real script, real actors (Cage is just himself, but everyone else is excellent) and real story and a seriously real point to make.
If this bored you go and watch a Steven Seagal movie or something. This is an intelligent, well crafted, serious movie, and there's not many of them being made anymore!
For anyone unfamiliar, Cage stumbles into the arms-dealing trade. He becomes the best there is and it makes him rich, but the means by which he makes his money is unbeknownst to his family. When it starts having drastic effects on other things in his life he starts to reconsider and it all gets a bit dangerous. There are a lot of accurate and hard-hitting moral messages here and anyone with half a brain should be able to pick up on the intelligence of this movie. But as I said, if you need lots of effects and explosions and cheesy lines, go find an Van Damme film.