Day Watch

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Director: Timur Bekmambetov; Release date: 5 October

On its release in Russia last January, Day Watch became the highest grossing film in post-Soviet Russian history. It is the second part of a trilogy which began with 2004's Night Watch - itself a box office hit, trouncing Spider-Man 2 and Lord of the Rings. The films are flashy, special effects led and very post-Matrix - but achieved at a fraction of a Hollywood budget.

The Russian film industry collapsed after 1991 with the number of cinema screens in the country falling from 10,000 to just 70. A market flooded with pirate DVDs meant young Russians were watching Hollywood blockbusters on television.

The Night Watch trilogy, based on bestselling Russian novels, is the first serious attempt to wrench that market back into cinemas. The films are produced by the equivalent of the director general of the BBC and directed by one of the country's leading advert and music video directors.

Having no big CGI studio they had to pull in 42 small special effects workshops from all over Russia to collaborate on the project. They manage to portray medieval battles and have cars screeching up the side of a skyscraper. Even the subtitles are animated - splintering, fading or smashing against a wall, depending on the emotion the words convey.

The story centres on the age-old battle between good and evil. A medieval truce is maintained by the Night Watch - good "others" who keep an eye on the dark ones - and the Day Watch, vampires, witches and various dark "others" making sure the goodies don't bend the rules.

But this isn't just fantasy. Day Watch is quite definitely taking place in contemporary Moscow, and its different sides are vividly represented. The dark others are beautiful and charismatic. They party all night in penthouse suites and work in the media; they wear leather and drive sports cars. Several of them are actually played by pop stars.

The light others are normal looking; they live in shabby apartments in half-derelict buildings and travel on the metro; they are weary and heavy with responsibility. They are also heavy on bureaucracy: there's a great bit about a vampire trying to get his licence to kill humans.

Director Timur Bekmambetov said he wanted to evoke a fusion of Russian reality and US movies. I think he's done this. And while Day Watch is a bit long at two hours and 20 minutes, I certainly found it a lot more fun to watch than the average CGI blockbuster.