Film: Brother

You're not my brother, black-assed scum.

The city is an evil force. The strong come and become feeble. The city takes the strength away. And now you've fallen.

Brother (Brat) is a 1997 Russian hit film starring Sergei Bodrov.

A hateful, xenophobic young sociopath called Danila Bagrov returns home from his stint in the First Chechen War, where he claims he had some kind of office job and never saw battle. His mother sends him off to live in St. Petersburg with his brother Viktor. However, in Danila's absence his brother has become a murderous career criminal (like everybody else in a Russian movie that takes place shortly after the fall of the USSR). Danila then proceeds to work through the identity issues of young Russian men following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the new global culture by killing ethnic minorities for money.

The movie became a hit in Russia partly due to the level of violence in the film. While incredibly tame by American (and modern Russian) standards, the movie was considered quite violent due to decades of Soviet censorship.

It's also got some valuable social commentary about ugly issues Russians were dealing with at the time, in particular the difficulty of defining your community and culture after the sudden overwhelming Western influence and the cessation of Communism and Russification, and in general is a very accurate portrayal of St. Petersburg in the nineties.

Followed in 2000 by the sequel Brother 2 (aka Brat 2).


  • Adam Westing: Russian singer Irina Saltykova appears in the sequel as Danila's pop-star lover.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: Both Danila and German. They know they live in a horrible world, yet they never abandon to their ideals.
  • Bald of Evil: Danila's brother Viktor and Krugly.
  • Bilingual Bonus - At one point Danila is giving a Kubrick Stare to a non-Russophone "American" (who's happily chatting away on his cell phone) and basically telling him that he wishes he could single-handedly genocide every person in his culture. If you speak English and/or French you know that the guy is actually talking in French, but Danila doesn't seem to notice or care. It's also pretty amusing that during this scene the legendarily abysmal eurodance anthem Max, Don't Have Sex With Your Ex starts playing. The lyrics are so stupid that if you don't temporarily think that Danila might have a point in hating all of Western culture (at least for the duration of the song), your eardrums were probably removed at birth. This was probably on purpose, especially since Danila's fascination with very Russian art rock groups like Nautilus Pompilius and DDT (as opposed to the shallow imported dance pop stuff that people stereotypically prefer in Russia today) is something of a plot point.
  • Black and Gray Morality
  • Book Ends: When Danila rides out Saint-Petersburg on hitchhicked truck, radio plays the same song as one played when Danila arrived to Saint-Petersburg. The song is sung in major key, though (although its lyrics are about people - "us" - that are bred and raised to cheerfully die like popcorn seeds).
  • The Cameo: Several Russian rock musicians as themselves.
  • Cool Old Guy: "The German" (his real name, Hoffmann, is mentioned once in the movie), occasional friend of Danila, who saves Danila's life, when he was wounded, in exchange for Danila's saving him from robber. He is also somewhat of a philosophier: his goal in life is to refute Russian proverb "What is good for Russian - is death to German".
  • Dirty Coward: Viktor.
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Though he said his name is Hoffmann, Danila keeps calling him немец (nemets), that means German.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Krugly loves silly poems and Russian proverbs.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Viktor is the foolish one, Danila the responsible one.
  • German Russians: German, naturally. One of the last examples, because after the fall of Soviet Union, most of Germans left Russia.
  • Gun Porn: Two very detailed scenes with Danila customising his weapons. We even get to see the making of distracting bombs from aluminium dust and potassium permanganate.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Danila surely does care for innocent people.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Danila's uncanny skill with a pistol shows he didn't spend his army service in 'headquarters'.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Averted. People dies slowly and painfully.
  • Lock and Load Montage: Before the two important shootouts, we see scenes of Danila loading and customising his weapons.
  • The Mafiya
  • The New Russia - Examined in detail. Specifically the "Russian nineties" version.
  • N-Word Privileges: Played with in the sequel. Danila gets in trouble with a black bum when he calls him "negr". Upon being explained why he can't say "negr", Danila is completely bewildered: in Russian, "negr" is a neutral word to describe a black person. "That's what I was taught in school: the Chinese live in China, the Germans in Germany, the Jews in Israel and Negroes in Africa." Ironically, his brother and prostitute friend's blatantly racist remarks go unnoticed, as they are said in Russian.
  • Only Sane Man: "German", an old German bum from graveyard with philosophical outlook on life, who is the most honest and decent character in the movie.
  • Pocket Protector: Danila's CD player
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Danila hates people from Caucasus and mentions that he is an anti-semite too (although - and it is important for Russia where everyday anti-semitism is tolerated - he does so in an awkward manner, strongly implying he would never aggressively act on it; considering how deadly his acts may be in different contexts, it's a strong distinction).
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The only moment we see Danila really angry, is the moment, when he discovers that gangsters raped his girlfriend. This is saying very much, because during the whole movie, he was very calm and collected.
  • Right Makes Might: That's what Danila belives in, as he states in the sequel.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Danila is clearly Romantic character - a vigilante, who fights not as much for money as for his close people, he is altruistic and fearless - Krugly is on Enlightenment side - he is selfish, pragmatic and highly cynical.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: The German rejects Danila's offer of bloody money. Remember, he offered him around $20,000 - an incredible sum for that time and place.
  • Sequel Goes Foreign: Brother 2 takes place mostly in USA.
  • Sex Drugs And Rocknroll: There is a local group of punks and drug addicts, who mock Danila for loving good Russian rock, and like to abuse drugs, drink alchohol and listen to foreign music. At their party, they listen and dance to some really shitty eurodance.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Danila's time at war certainly has left its mark.
  • Slasher Smile: Kruglyi has one on his face, when he watches as his goons rape Sveta.
  • Sociopathic Hero - Danila. See also Psycho for Hire Nineties Anti-Hero.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: Sveta is strangely devoted to her abusive and wicked husband.
  • Thicker Than Water: Despite Viktor taking advantage of him and luring him into a trap (admittedly, he did it at gunpoint) Danila forgives him anyway because Viktor is his brother.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: When Viktor was young, he was a kind and caring older brother who acted as Danila's missing father - and now he is a ruthless Professional Killer and Dirty Coward.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: Averted in the original but played straight in the sequel. Danila spares both the crimeboss who, as he thinks, ordered to kill his wartime friend (he didn't but Danila couldn't know that) and the American Bad Boss of said friend's twin brother (who basically kept him as slave) while having absolutely no problem with shooting down their underlings. The fact that they were trying to kill him probably helped though.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell
  • Wretched Hive - Horribly enough. Russia actually was something like this in the period of lawlessness that bridged the gap between the collapse of the Soviet Union and Vladimir Putin's reforms in the 2000s.