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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but flawed
What the sleeve designer was on, heaven knows, and whoever wrote the blurb appears neither to have seen the movie nor read the Gogol novella upon which it was based. Don't let either put you off.

If you're Ukrainian (or at least, a Ukrainian who believes in the country's independence and separateness from Russia) or Polish you are very likely to be offended by...
Published on 10 Dec 2011 by Mick1950

versus
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Iron, Blood, Cossacks, Vodka and strangely Propaganda!
This film is based on the book by Nikolai Gogol, and as such has stuck to the patriotic theme that he adopted for reasons of conformity at the time. That being said I decided to judge it as a film in its' own right. It tells the story of the legendary Taras Bulba who, in the 16th Century took on the enemies of the Cossacks with his two sons.

They, his sons,...
Published on 18 Sep 2011 by Tommy Dooley


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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Iron, Blood, Cossacks, Vodka and strangely Propaganda!, 18 Sep 2011
By 
Tommy Dooley (London, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 50 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
This film is based on the book by Nikolai Gogol, and as such has stuck to the patriotic theme that he adopted for reasons of conformity at the time. That being said I decided to judge it as a film in its' own right. It tells the story of the legendary Taras Bulba who, in the 16th Century took on the enemies of the Cossacks with his two sons.

They, his sons, were first sent to be trained by the monks and returned as men, but not Cossacks so he takes them off to the Cossack `finishing school', where he discovers that a shameful truce has been signed by the `ataman' a spiritual and de facto leader, with the Sultan (his enemy). Taras then orchestrates an embarrassing show down to get him removed and replaced by someone with more war like tendencies. Just as he has the mob whipped up into a frenzy of Islamophobia, some of his comrades turn up with news that all of his men, livestock and family have been murdered by the invading Poles, who are in collusion with the Tartars, Roman Catholics and worst of all Jews. So we have a smorgasbord of hatred and retribution brewing up. First thing is a Jewish pogrom, but Taras intervenes, and then takes them all to fight the Poles.

His youngest son has also fallen for the daughter Elizabeta, of the Tartars -she looks a bit like Britney Spears (with hair that is). She is with her father who is sheltering with the Polish garrison. What follows is a tale of Shakespearian tragedy. Taras faces one battle after another. Speaking of which, there are lots of battles and the siege scenes are excellent, with little or no CGI as far as I could tell. There is masses of gore and proper hand to hand fighting. Bogdan Stupka as Bulba is a tour de force, but director Vladimir Bortko manages to illicit strong performances from all those concernd. There is a big however, and that is when they come to some of their `am dram' deaths and start wailing on about how great Mother Russia is, before finally expiring. One would have been tolerable but after the third it gets to be a bit wearisome, and not in the slightest bit believable. That is the movies downfall it has sacrificed cod propaganda and sentimentality for even a veneer of authenticity.

It is in Russian and Polish with English sub titles, when they speak Polish it is translated verbatim into Russian! Still I did ruddy well enjoy this film and as it is over two hours long, that has done well to keep my attention, the costumes are excellent, the music is great and the cast of thousands was very much appreciated, but I have to judge on the whole package, so not quite a four star offering, but very close indeed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Taras Bulba, 27 Sep 2013
By 
A. J. Harrison (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
Andre and Ostap Bulba return from studying in Kiev to their homeland where they are reunited with their father the famous Cossack leader Taras. However not long after they have returned their mother is slain by the invading Polish army so the three of them unite the Cossack armies and fight back.

As I am a big fan of the 1962 film Taras Bulba with Yul Brynner, I was compelled to watch this and after seeing a lot of reviews complaining about this been to Pro-Russian but as I'm not really interested in Politics or Propaganda that didn't put me off.

The main aspects of this film that really stood out to me were the impressive battle scenes, although the director has a obsession with close ups of swords and spears been impaled/ slashed into peoples bodies and the music score which is great, but it is a little repetitive at times.

Obviously with me been a fan of the Yul Brynner version I spent a lot of my time comparing the films and there was aspects of both films that I really liked. Here the things I prefered were the way the director uses flashbacks to tell the story of Andres love with Elizbeta, but in this version it feels like their relationship isn't explained enough. Other aspects I liked in this was the films downbeat ending where vertually every Cossack character is killed (everyone heroically). In the 1962 version I felt that the hatred that the Cossacks had for the Polish but here nothing is really shown.

Overall a decent film that with more focus on certain elements of the story it would've been better in my opinion. I still however prefer the 1962 film but I always knew I would.

If you like this film I'd advise you check out the Russian film '1612' and the Polish film 'With the Fire and Sword'
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, but flawed, 10 Dec 2011
This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
What the sleeve designer was on, heaven knows, and whoever wrote the blurb appears neither to have seen the movie nor read the Gogol novella upon which it was based. Don't let either put you off.

If you're Ukrainian (or at least, a Ukrainian who believes in the country's independence and separateness from Russia) or Polish you are very likely to be offended by the film's blatantly pro-Russian message. It's based very faithfully on Gogol's 1842, pro-Russian revision of his original 1835 work, sometimes too much so; the flowery eulogies for Cossack captains who get theirs in the final battle appear quaint on the printed page and are downright silly in the movie. Thankfully, the anti-Semitism of the original is toned down, although the cringing comedy Jew Yankel is only a marginally more positive portrayal than Fagin or Shylock.

All that aside (and for the rest of the world the politics won't matter any more than they did for 'Braveheart') this is a highly enjoyable movie, vastly superior to the ludicrous early-60s Brynner and Curtis travesty. (OK, it doesn't have the 'Ride to Dubno' sequence and the wonderful Franz Waxman score, but that's it). The battle scenes are ferocious, and thankfully free of CGI. The superb Bogdan Stupka totally dominates in the title role; his Taras is a complex, heroic yet seriously flawed character that goes way beyond Gogol's creation into Shakespearean levels of depth. How I would love to see this man play Lear! Veteran Polish actor Daniel Olbrychski does gravitas as the voyevod of Dubno, and everyone else is at least competent.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Corny, 31 Jan 2014
By 
P. Walton (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
I found the film very corny and rather amateurish. Music was monotonous and every dying Cossack praised Mother Russia so expected to see that it had been produced by Putin Productions. Not at all subtle.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars what a let down...., 14 Jun 2012
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This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
I really Enjoyed Yul Bynner as Taras Bulba in the 1962 film, it was an interesting story and entertaining - Hollywood though with the usual inaccuracies and lack of Russian actors etc etc. When i found out Russia was producing a Taras Bulba film i was delighted and obviously had high expectations - I was primarily looking for a film that revealed and incorporated aspects of Cossack culture and mentality - for the Cossacks are of great interest to me. Now the costumes, sets etc were fantastic and the film did have it's moments but on the whole it was an utter let down - the story was dis-jointed, ad-hock and a little confusing, it was also filled to the brim with Russian nationalism - unrealistic given the Zaporozhian Cossacks were fiercely independent but also naff. I felt they left out certain and very important events in favour of fitting in longer battle scenes and a fairly gruesome torture scene. None of the characters "developed" or built any familiarity to the viewer etc,what i mean is when a character died i felt it was no loss to the story because all the characters felt ancillary - even Taras Bulba had a relatively unimportant role and a very unimportant feel about his character - like an old man counting down the days to retirement. Yul Brynner ruled the screen when he was Taras Bulba - and he still does! to be honest i would not recommend this film.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful epic adventure, but no blu-ray?, 29 July 2011
This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
The five stars are for the film itself. Some reviewers have contended that it is only Russian nationalistic propaganda, but I strongly disagree. The film is a true representation of the short story by Nikolai Gogol, which is, indeed, nationalistic Russian literature at its rousing finest. Bogdan Stupka is outstanding as Taras Bulba, and the rest of the cast members are sterling, as well. I just wonder why Metrodrome Group is giving us yet another regular DVD of a film we bought a year and a half ago from Amazon as a CP Digital product. This version was titled just TARAS BULBA and had a nice image and good English sub-titles. An official blu-ray of TARAS BULBA was sold in Russia without an English translation back in 2009. Now, Entertainment One is re-releasing it in the U.S. and calling it THE CONQUEROR. Amazon France will carry a re-release of the same film called THE BARBARIAN pressed by Condor Entertainment. And, there will be a blu-ray of it (sadly, with only French and Russian options). Why only a blu-ray option for France? Hopefully, Metrodrome Group will realize how many of us have "gone blu-ray" and have multi-region HD players to boot. The damned U.S. companies are content living in the past. So, I'm sure that Entertainment One will never do it for us in the States. Please, Metrodrome, give us a blu-ray of this wonderful film. Be forward looking like Masters of Cinema and BFI, who have already left America in the dust.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Flawed propaganda creation, 10 Oct 2012
This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
I was badly disappointed by the movie as I found it more related to some nowadays political issues than to the historical background it was supposed to be depicting. It is possible to feel that a lot of money were poured into the making of this film and after the repetitious praising of the greatness of Russia by the cossack leader you start feeling yourself a bit uncomfortable. Especially if to believe the description of the movie that the story is taking place in the XVIth century. The Republic of Both Nations (that was the official name of the federation between the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after the Lublin Union was signed in 1569) was heavily involved into the Livonian war with the Moscow Grand Duchy and the Swedish Kingdom, and was acting very occasionally at the southern frontiers. There with a serious help by cossacs the RoBN repulsed occasional invasions by the Crymean tartars. However in the XVIIth century the story turned around. Former guardians of the southern borders of the RoBN, cossacs went against the Poles for economic (bad opression of peasantry), political (demands for a greater autonomy of the Russins' (Ruthenians) lands within the RoBN or even for a transformation of the RoBN into the Republic of Three Nations) and religious (since three Ukrainian regions were joined to the Kingdom of Poland instead of being a part of the GDL, the orthodoxy rights seriously deteriorated in these teritories). Only then Russia (being recognised as such in the middle of the XVIIth century - please look at the contemporary maps of the XVI-XVIIth centuries)stepped into play and supported cossack uppraisals and gained the Eastern Ukraine as its territory in 1654 by signing the Pereyaslavl agreement with the cossack leaders. This long historical explanation, I think, just was needed to explain that not everything was so straightforward in the shown period of the movie and that even good art works could lose their value by falling into the hands of propaganda interests. By the way the movie "1612" also suffered badly because of propaganda cliches applied to this also very contraversional period shown in that movie.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice Try, but no Cigar., 28 Dec 2011
By 
Bob Salter "Captain Spindrift" (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
It is hard not to watch this film and compare it with the Hollywood version filmed way back in 1958 with Tony Curtis as a very odd Bronx Cossack and Yul Brynner in the title role of "Taras Bulba". Being a bit of a film snob I usually prefer my versions without the usual hyperbolic dose of Hollywood seasoning, but in this case I have to admit I prefer the entertaining and much glamorised Hollywood treatment of Gogol's famous novel. This one is a 'right odd un' to say the least. It has some truly memorable moments interspersed with the kind of stuff that my legendary Uncle Bert, who shot whole home movies devoted to his out of focus feet, would have lapped up.

This one at least has a good stab at keeping faithfully to the novel. Set in the Ukraine in the 16th century, the film features a very convincing Bogdan Stupka, who throws everything but the kitchen sink into his performance as Taras Bulba, the fearsome leader of a proud Cossack tribe. He has two sons, whom he loves dearly. One turns out very well and the other not so good. The not so good one gets tempted by a Polish temptress, who any red blooded male would be tempted by. Unfortunately there is little love lost between the very bad Poles, who are raping and pillaging the Russian motherland, and the very good Cossacks, so this is a falls into the "liaisons Dangeureuses" category. We head to a gargantuan, testosterone fuelled clash between the Cossacks, resplendent in their top knots, and those wicked Poles.

Let's talk about the good points first, and then we we'll get to the not so good bits. Bogdan Stupka is superb as the feisty Taras Bulba and holds the film together with his magnetic central performance. The battle scenes are on a truly epic scale at times, with the stuntmen doing some sterling work, especially in the scenes featuring the storming of a castle. The period costumes are impressive, as are the numbers of horses used in the film. But be warned, the blood letting is also on a perhaps rather unnecessary epic scale as well. One torture scene makes the one in "Braveheart" look like play school stuff. On the downside we do get an awful lot of very old fashioned Russian jingoism. One very impressive battle is somewhat spoilt by the stirringly patriotic 'Yedinaya Rossiya' (United Russia) speeches the dying Cossacks somehow manage to blurt out before expiring. Once okay! Twice, very dodgy! Thrice, time to run for the hills crying for mummy! We then get some rather strangely choreographed battle scenes where the extras look as if they are about to go on strike unless the vodka rations are broken out pronto. The film also tends to jump about unevenly leaving the viewer somewhat confused, and wishing the makers had perhaps considered a mini series instead. We have no idea how the flames of love were fanned between Cossack and Pole, as that happened before our film had begun. Most oddly of all, we get a scene where Taras shouts out his allegiances whilst surrounded by hoardes of blood lusting Polish enemy. Next he is seen galloping across the steppes in a piece of ecapism that makes Harry Houdini look like an amateur. Then there is the little matter of the rousing musical score which is actually pretty decent, until the same piece gets played over and over again like a stuck record, then you begin to hate it. In a nutshell the film has enough in it to be mildly entertaining but falls resoundingly in the 'fair to middling category'. Nice try, but no cigar!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent battle scenes and very historically accurate, 29 Jun 2014
By 
Miss L. Wilson (Aberdeen, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
Interesting aspect of russian history I have never seen before in film. Excellent battle scenes and very historically accurate! There should be more movies like this! Thought the soundtrack could do with some improvements though!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Classic, 1 April 2014
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This review is from: Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] (DVD)
Much better than Conan the Librarian Genghis Can't or Attila the Stockbroker. This is a serious depiction of a national hero uniting his people in this tragic depiction.
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Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD]
Iron & Blood: The Legend of Taras Bulba [DVD] by Vladimir Bortko (DVD - 2011)
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