Film / Brother

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/200px-brotherposter_4353.jpg
I sat things out at HQ. I was a clerk.

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

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

Danila Bagrov, a young Russian conscript, returns home from his stint in the First Chechen War. He claims to have seen little action, being assigned to an office job and never seeing any combat. His mother sends him off to work in St. Petersburg with his brother, Viktor. However, in Danila's absence, Viktor has become a hitman working for a Russian crime organization headed by a man named Roundhead (Krugly). Thrust into this reality, Danila must work through the identity issues faced by many young Russian men after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the steady westernization of Russia, by becoming a gun-for-hire.

The movie became a hit in Russia mostly due to the relatability of Danila as a young Russian looking for his identity and finding his place in an ever changing, and dangerous, world. Danila wasn't particularly handsome or smart, but what made him an iconic character is his sense of morality, his bravery when facing difficult odds and powerful people, and because of his status as a Russian everyman, who served in the army, listens to Russian rock, wears second hand clothes, yet one who always stands up for those who are pushed around by more powerful people and have no-one else to turn to.

It also has some valuable social commentary about many of the serious issues a lot of Russians were dealing with at the time, in particular, the difficulty of defining your community, culture, and identity after the sudden overwhelming Western influence and the cessation of Communism and Russification, and in general is a very accurate portrayal of post-Soviet Petersburg in the 90s.

By popular demand, a sequel was released in 2000, Brother 2 (aka Brat 2).


Tropes:

  • The Anti-Nihilist: Both Danila and German. They know they live in a horrible world, yet they never abandon to their ideals.
  • Badass Normal: Danila, compared to a lot of other action heroes. Unlike a lot of American action films, with the likes of Stallone or Schwarzenegger serving as handsome hunks who save the day and get the girl, Danila is a very average Russian. He is of average height, average build, average looks, and average intelligence. However, his sense of morality, combat experience, and unique charm is what makes him stand out, and all of this combined with his relatability is what turned him into an icon for Russian youth of the time. He is a unique time capsule, a homegrown hero made out of the best values of a post-Soviet Russian.
  • Bald of Evil: 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 telling him that his America will soon bite it. 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.
    Danila: Your American music is shit.
    Danila: What're you arguing for? I said the music is shit, and you're arguing.
    Danila: Soon, your America's gonna bite it.
    Danila: We're going to wipe the smiles off your faces.
    Kat: What're you bothering him for, he's French. Let's go.
  • Black and Gray Morality
  • Book Ends: When Danila rides out Saint-Petersburg on hitchhiked truck, the radio plays the same song as the one played when Danila arrived to Saint-Petersburg, only in major key this time.
  • The Cameo: Several Russian rock musicians appear as themselves.
  • Cool Old Guy: "German" Hoffman, a homeless man whom Danila befriends after saving him from a thug. In exchange, German saves Danila's life when he gets wounded. He is also somewhat of a philosopher; his goal in life is to refute the old Russian proverb "What's good for the Russian is death for the German".
  • Dirty Coward: Viktor.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Though he said his name is Hoffmann, Danila keeps calling him German.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Roundhead loves silly poems and Russian proverbs.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Viktor is the foolish one, Danila the responsible one.
  • German Russians: German, naturally.
  • Gun Porn: Two very detailed scenes with Danila customising his weapons. We even get to see him making distraction 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 that he probably didn't spend his army service in HQ as he claims.
  • 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 90s version.
  • Only Sane Man: "German", an old homeless man living in a graveyard with a philosophical outlook on life. He is the most honest and decent character in the movie.
  • Pocket Protector: Danila's CD player.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Danila dislikes Chechens (probably due to his service in the First Chechen War) and doesn't much care for Jews. However, despite this, Danila never acts on his prejudices and tries to judge people fairly regardless of race.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The only moment we see Danila really angry is the moment when he discovers that Roundhead's thugs raped Sveta. This is saying very much, because during the whole movie, Danila is very calm and collected.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Danila is clearly a Romantic character; altruistic and fearless, he is a vigilante who fights not as much for money as for those close to him. Roundhead is on the Enlightenment side; he is selfish, pragmatic, and highly cynical.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: The German rejects Danila's US$20,000 of blood money, which was an incredible amount for the economically collapsed 90s Russia.
  • Sex Drugs And Rocknroll: There is a local group of punks, drug addicts, and party-goers who mock Danila for loving Russian rock music, and like to abuse drugs, drink alcohol, 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 has certainly left its mark.
  • Slasher Smile: Roundhead has one on his face, when he watches as his thugs rape Sveta.
  • Sociopathic Hero - Danila. See also Psycho for Hire '90s Anti-Hero.
  • Thicker Than Water: Despite Viktor having 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.
  • Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell
  • Wretched Hive - Horribly enough, Russia was actually a lot 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.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/Brother