"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 eleven?"Lord of War
is a 2005 political crime thriller starring Nicolas Cage
, Bridget Moynihan, Ethan Hawke, Jared Leto and Eamonn Walker. It revolves around Yuri Orlov, Ukrainian-American arms merchant extraordinaire, based on the Real Life
Russian traffickers Viktor Bout and Leonid Minin.
This film contains examples of:
- Action Genre Hero Guy: Jack Valentine, the Hero Antagonist of the film.
- Affably Evil:
- Andre Baptiste, a brutal African warlord, is friendly and welcoming to Yuri. Andre Junior, who is a renowned cannibal, is even worse but no less affable, if only around Yuri.
- Yuri himself, who is the protagonist but is frankly an amoral (at best) arms dealer.
- All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Including the sons of African dictators who dress up their women as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
- Anachronism Stew: Soviet troops in 1991 Ukraine are shown holding Chinese copies of the AKM, years after the AKM was removed from service in the Soviet armed forces. See Artistic License – Military below.
- Arms Dealer:
- Yuri Orlov (the eponymous "Lord of War"), Simeon Weisz, and some minor characters.
- In a meta sense too. A real Czech dealer was actually used for props for the film - it turned out to be cheaper to borrow 3000 real Czech SA Vz. 58 rifles, visually similar but totally different to the AK, than to buy 3000 replicas! The row of tanks were not only real, but were rented from an actual arms dealer (the staff worked closely with several while filming). The scene had to be rushed because the dealer had a buyer and unexpectedly needed them back. Also, the filmmakers had to inform NATO that the satellite images they're getting of tanks gathering is not of a preparation for invasion.
- Arms Fair: Several, mostly of the illegal variety. Where else would an Arms Dealer hang out?
- Arrow Cam: The opening sequence shows a bullet's eye view from manufacture to brain.
- Artistic License – Military:
- The Soviet Union phased out the AKM note in 1974, replacing it with the similar-looking-yet-very-different AK-74, in 5.45x39mm. Further, Soviet troops (including Nicholas Cage's son Weston) in 1991 are shown using Norinco Type 56-1, Chinese copies of the AKMS, despite Soviet troops never using Chinese equipment, especially after the withdrawal of 7.62x39mm weapons from service, and Czech SA Vz. 58 rifles, in the background of the Ukrainian armoury. The majority of rifles given to guerilla troops, however, are, in fact Soviet AKM rifles and East German AKMS rifles, as well as the occasional real, very rare AK-47.
- Yuri tells Uncle Dimitri to flub his numbers so that instead of 40,000 AK-47s, he has 10,000 and thus is "severely depleted," needing to order more from the factory. Yuri says that this number is low for a battalion, which has only 500 riflemen, and so 10,000 assault rifles is a ridiculously high amount of guns. In addition, as a major general, Uncle Dimitri would be in command of a division, of which 10,000 AK-47s is a bit more understandable.
- Awesome Mccoolname: Interpol Agent Jack Valentine. Appropriate for an Action Genre Hero Guy.
- Ax-Crazy: Andre Baptiste Jr., and his father as well, shooting one of his own men for even looking sideways towards his woman. Usually more restrained though.
- Ballistic Discount: Lampshaded once, subverted twice - Yuri tells his first client that the suppressors on his guns are so quiet they could kill him there and then and not be heard in the next room, causing him to point the gun at him before he notes that doing so would mean no repeat business. Later another client almost does kill Yuri after Yuri rejects his price (because he wants to pay him in cocaine, not cash) but just shoots him in the side. Yuri wisely agrees to take the drugs in payment.
- Because I'm Good at It: The ultimate reason Yuri never gives up arms dealing, despite the many reasons he has to give it up and settle down for a normal life.
- Becoming the Mask: Minor example, but still technically applicable - Yuri's dad. He emigrated from Soviet Ukraine to America under the pretense of being Jewish. He would later on fully embrace the Jewish lifestyle, opening a store with the Star of David as part of the logo, faithfully attending synagogue services, and even obeying Jewish dietary laws, much to the annoyance of his Catholic wife.
Anatoly Orlov: I'm going to temple.
Irina Orlov: You're not going to temple! You go to temple more than the Rabbi!
- Being Evil Sucks: Yuri has realized how much destruction he caused but can never repair it...
- Black Comedy: The first half of the movie has a fair amount; the second half is pretty much straight (and very depressing) drama.
- Black and Gray Morality: Yuri himself is amoral and indifferent to the death he causes with his trade, but he is nowhere near as bad as Baptiste, who is an insane dictator who murders people on a whim, allows his cannibalistic son free reign and engages in bloody civil wars. The staunchly heroic Jack Valentine is pretty unambiguously good, so the movie doesn't necessarily imply that there is no white morality. It just suggests that the good guys aren't very effective. Or affable, comparatively.
- Bling-Bling-BANG!: Baptiste Junior has a gold plated custom built conglomerate of several AK variants.
- Book Ends: The movie starts and ends with Yuri providing exposition standing in a war-torn and apparently abandoned village, the ground almost completely covered in bullet casings.
- Boom, Headshot: At the beginning of the movie.
- Born Lucky: Yuri. He narrowly avoids a whole lot of trouble from badly concealed weaponry entirely by chance - had Valentine chosen to watch the potatoes for five more seconds, he'd have noticed the crate marked "M16"... but the epitome of Yuri's luck almost defies belief. There are very few ways a white, rich man can walk in a war-torn African city on a high and survive despite having unprotected sex with a prostitute (in a country that he notes has astronomical rates of HIV infection),note an encounter with a pack of hyenas and two gangsters who would have shot him if their AKs had not jammed (which he proceeds to give them his professional advice on how to fix so they won't do that.) The whole sequence serves to show how Yuri has sunk so low that he can't even die. At this point Yuri himself thinks he's cursed rather than blessed.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Book Ends feature Yuri talking directly to the audience.
- Brick Joke: Of a very dark variety. Early on when Baptiste Jr. first meets Yuri, he asks him if he can get "the gun of Rambo" (the M60, with armor-piercing bullets, as Jr. had only seen the first Rambo film). Later when both Baptistes go to Yuri's house to get him to return to the gun trade, Jr. says he's still waiting for the gun. Eventually we finally see Jr. with the gun...which he promptly uses to gun down innocent civilians while Yuri looks away cringing.
- But Not Too Evil: See the subversion in Even Evil Has Standards. The in-character reason that Yuri never supplied Al Qaeda is that Osama was bouncing cheques, but the scriptwriters' reason was almost certainly to allow him to be amoral, but not too amoral for the audience.
- By-the-Book Cop: Jack Valentine.
- The Caligula: Andre Baptiste Sr. has elements of the character type, but it's an arguable case as he doesn't have clear control over his country, fighting a civil war.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Yuri is held at gunpoint by Interpol, and calmly asks one of the agents if he would like a silencer for his new MP5.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The black comedy portions of the film end when Yuri decides to start doing business in Africa.
- Child Soldiers: Baptiste's Kalashnikov Kids, his Boys Brigade.
- Chekhov's Gun: Literally.
- Chronic Villainy: Yuri tries to go straight after his wife calls him out on his actions (it's stated at one point that Yuri has made enough money for them to retire comfortably), but the profit margins are just too low when he's doing it legally. Baptiste shows up at his door in New York, which shakes Yuri up, but more to the point, at heart, Yuri is the titular Lord of War, gunrunning's his business, and he's good at it.
- Cluster F-Bomb:
- Vitaly after Yuri ruins his drawing of a detailed outline of Ukraine with cocaine on a table: "Fuck you, you fucking fuck! Fuck!"
- Yuri while trying to encourage a pilot to land a cargo plane on the middle of a road in Africa: "You're the shit, Alexi! You're the shit, you're the shit, you're the shit!"
- Cold War: At first. Later, Yuri subverted Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell; he's positively thrilled that the Soviet Union collapsed, because it's great for his business, especially as he's got an uncle who's ex-Soviet Army with warehouses just full of arms...
- Commissar Cap: Many Ukrainian army officers wear them.
- Completely Missing the Point: This exchange.
Yuri: How many Kalashnikovs do you have?
Uncle Dimitri: Forty thousand.
Yuri: Is that a four? Doesn't look like a four to me. Looks more like a one.
Uncle Dimitri: [Looks at clipboard] No, it's a four.
- Composite Character: Yuri is a composite of five different Real Life arms dealers, though Bout and Minin are the most prevalent.
- Concealment Equals Cover:
- Subtly averted. The mobster who hides behind a restaurant table only has his luck and the assassin's bad aim to thank for escaping the assassination attempt, and it's apparently played straight, the shots apparently being blocked and the mobster returning fire. When we're shown the scene from behind him, it's clear the table has been shot clearly through - he's only alive because the gunmen are woefully incompetent and have sprayed and prayed instead of shooting the table in the centre.
- Averted a second time as Yuri and his brother are almost gunned down walking in an alley way as bullets erupt from one of the walls. On the other side of the wall Child Soldiers are being executed.
- Cool Shades: Yuri frequently wears them, but it's only for practical purposes, since sun-filled Africa is his most frequent destination.
- Cowboy Cop: Subverted. Agent Valentine clearly wants to be one of these at times - sometimes quite visibly struggling with himself - but over the course of the entire movie he resists the temptation to break his own code of conduct, adhering strictly to the rule of law at all times. It doesn't work out all that well for him. He does break the rules when he "detains" Yuri by handcuffing him and leaving him on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere for 24 hours.
- Cunning Linguist: Yuri is shown to have a gift for languages and acts as the translator of the two brothers, speaking fluent English, Russian, Spanish and Chinese.
- Deadpan Snarker: Yuri, both in the narration, and actually in-character.
- Death Seeker: Yuri's brother. Yuri doesn't become this, he gets to the Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You.
- Despair Event Horizon: Pay attention to Valentine's face when Yuri makes his final speech. He gets closer and closer to this over the course of the speech and finally crosses when the door knocks.
- Yuri himself comes close after Andre Baptiste strong-arms him into murdering Simeon - immediately going to a bar, snorting a mix of gunpowder and cocaine and aimlessly wandering a war-torn African village. He finally hits the event horizon for real around the same time as Valentine does - having lost every single meaningful human connection he had, he apparently gives up on humanity altogether.
I'd tell you to go to Hell. But I think you're already there
- Does Not Like Guns: Zig-zagged to Hell and back, because Yuri's a massive, massive hypocrite. He refuses to carry or use a weapon himself (unlike his brother-cum-partner Vitaly) and won't even let his son keep a toy one... but he's still an arms dealer, and from the way he speaks about them he seems to find guns fascinating in the abstract.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: For a film ostensibly excoriating the arms trade, there is an awful lot of Gun Porn to be found, and the protagonist is a cool, confident Karma Houdini who achieves enormous personal success in the field..
- Downer Ending: Yuri's brother and uncle are killed, his parents disown him, his wife leaves him and takes his only son with her. Agent Valentine's view of justice and righteousness are shattered when Yuri is allowed to go free after being caught red-handed, due to his role as a "necessary evil." And Yuri is left to ponder whether or not the United States will dispose of him when he stops being useful to them. On the other hand, Yuri is free and rich, so depending on how sympathetic you find him this could qualify as a Bittersweet Ending. Even if you're rooting for Yuri, the end is pretty depressing (see Pyrrhic Villainy below).
- Dramatic Gun Cock
- Establishing Character Moment: Andre Baptiste, Sr. shoots one of his own men just to try the gun out.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Lampshaded and subverted in the scene where one of Yuri's customers tries to pay him in cocaine. Yuri initially refuses since he deals in arms not drugs, saying he has standards when the customer tells him to diversify. Yuri gets a bullet in the side for his defiance, agrees to the deal and duly makes a tidy profit off the cocaine.
- Subverted in another scene: Yuri says he refused to sell weapons to Osama bin Laden. Not because of ethical reasons, but because back then Bin Laden's checks kept bouncing.
- Vitaly's demise is because of having standards. It is clear that the guns he and Yuri are selling to the African guerrilla leader will be used to massacre a nearby refugee camp, and he knocks Andre Baptiste Jr. out of the way of a charge to one of the weapon hauling trucks, and tosses a grenade in the back. He is promptly shot, and Yuri only gets half of the agreed price.
- Expy: Colonel Southern for Oliver North.
- Family Values Villain:
- Yuri may be an amoral arms dealer, but he cares about his wife and son, and doesn't even want him playing with toy guns.
- Yuri's uncle General Volkov is a possibly treasonous criminal benefactor, but he turns down better offers to remain loyal to his nephew.
- Firing in the Air a Lot: Baptiste Jr. Someone must spend a lot of time reloading his custom gold-plated magazines for him.
- Firing One-Handed: Several (apparently not very-well trained) African mooks do this.
- First Law of Tragicomedies
- First Person Smart Ass: Yuri, oh so very much. Arguably a large part of the appeal of the movie is hearing Nicolas Cage's deadpan, snarky voiceover commenting on the often very serious scenes.
- Former Regime Personnel: Yuri's uncle, former Soviet Army general.
- Foreign Language Tirade: Discussed:
Yuri Orlov: Curious how you always revert to your native tongue in moments of extreme anger... [cut to Yuri and Vitaly having sex with two girls they picked up] and ecstasy.
- Framing the Guilty Party: Subverted, as Jack Valentine is stated to be:
"That rarest of law enforcement officer...unwilling to break the law himself" in order to catch Yuri.
- "Get out of Jail Free" Card: Yuri's got one in the form of his importance as middleman for the world's most powerful government, unfortunately.
- Gun Porn
- Hand Cannon: The revolver Yuri sells to André Baptiste Sr., who tests it out on one of his own guards.
- Hannibal Lecture: Yuri gives one to Jack Valentine when he's arrested by him.
- Heel-Face Turn: Vitaly has one at the end, but it turns out tragically for him.
- Hero Antagonist: Jack Valentine.
- Holding Your Gun Sideways: Again, a sign that African militaries are not among the world's best-trained.
- Honest John's Dealership: Yuri fits the personality, although his product is somewhat different than the norm.
- Hookers and Blow: Vitaly is a major fan of both.
- I'm a Humanitarian: André Baptiste Jr. is said to eat the hearts of his victims, because he thinks it gives him superhuman strength. The scary thing is that this kind of behavior is actually not that far-fetched from real African dictators.
- Infant Immortality: Averted.
- Inherent in the System: Yuri justifies his gunrunning to himself by basically arguing that war, death and injustice are inevitable no matter what he personally does or doesn't contribute. Given what we see at the end with the US government intervening to keep Yuri free because he's (currently) useful to them, he might just be right.
- Inherited Illiteracy Title: A variant. Baptiste is fond of turning English compound nouns into phrases - 'bloodbath' becomes 'bath of blood'; 'warlord' becomes 'Lord of War'.
I prefer it my way.
- Interpol Special Agent: Jack Valentine.
- Impairment Shot: The entire scene of Yuri wandering around the African city while drunk and high.
- In Your Nature to Destroy Yourselves: Yuri believes this about humanity, and it's why he feels little guilt about gunrunning... at first, that is.
- In a film about the evil of arms-dealing, the producers paid real arms dealers to get the props, since it was cheaper that way. So, if you went to see this movie, with the above message, part of your money went to arms dealers in payment for real guns and tanks.
- In the film, Yuri ruminates on how he sold millions of rounds of ammunition, but in the end a single bullet got him arrested (said bullet was in Vitaly's body after the latter died of a heart attack on their trip to Africa).
- Just Like Making Love: "Selling a gun for the first time is a lot like having sex for the first time. You're excited but you don't really know what the hell you're doing. And some way, one way or another, it's over too fast."
- Karma Houdini: Yuri is, sort of, but at a price. He loses his brother, his love, his child, and is disowned by his parents, but he doesn't really care - only that cash keeps flowing in.
- Latino Is Brown: A fair-skinned Colombian drug lord pays with six kilos of cocaine instead of cash. He and Yuri also use a lot of Mexican slang for no apparent reason.
- The Load: Vitaly becomes a major burden on Yuri after the latter got into drugs, but before then was helpful to Yuri and his activities. Later, when Vitaly kicks the drugs, he remains the load by developing a conscience, which leads to him getting shot to death trying to stop an arms deal that would lead to the deaths of thousands.
- The Mafiya
- Major Injury Underreaction: Despite getting shot in the leg by an angry warlord, Yuri still completes a sale, and doesn't even pass out from the blood loss afterward.
- Malevolent Masked Men: The hitmen who try to assassinate the Russian gangster early in the film.
- Man in White: Andre Baptiste, Sr. favors a pure white uniform, except on ceremonial occasions.
- Misaimed Fandom: In-universe. Andre Baptiste Jr. asks Yuri to bring him Rambo's gun, specifically the M60 with armor-piercing bullets because he's only seen the first movie. First Blood is in fact a drama about a traumatized Vietnam vet who unleashes a small-scale war in an American town when the locals hassle him, and ends with Rambo crying into his former superior's arms about how he's lost all purpose in life and willingly turns himself in. Baptiste Jr. uses the M60 to mow down African civilians while laughing about it. Being a cannibalistic psychopath and son to a Liberian warlord, that he missed the point of the film shouldn't be surprising.
- Mock Millionaire: Yuri pretends to be a millionaire to impress his supermodel wife-to-be. Of course, when his business takes off, his wealth ends up "surpassing the lies about [his] wealth".
- Mood Whiplash: About halfway through, the film goes from dark but humorous to dark and outright depressing.
- More Dakka: André Baptiste Jr.'s M60.
- Motivational Lie: At one point, Yuri's only possible way out of being arrested is to have his pilot try a dangerous landing on an ordinary road. When the pilot balks, Yuri keeps telling him that he can do it because he's the best, all while Yuri is thinking about how the pilot graduated almost at the bottom of his flight school. It works.
- Mushroom Samba: After Yuri snorts Brown Brown (cocaine mixed with gunpowder, which they give the child soldiers so they'll "do anything"), he goes on a trek around the city. The whole scene is incredibly surreal, replete with hallucinations and is easily one of the darkest moments of the film.
- Necessarily Evil: Yuri labels himself as such at the end of the film because he's sometimes a middleman supplying weapons to conflicts on the White House's request that the politicians can't be seen to get involved in themselves. He's let go from custody and exits the movie a free man with gun running the only thing left in his life.
- Never Trust a Trailer: This somber drama, with some elements of dark humor, is definitely not the adrenaline-and-testosterone fueled "Guns & 'Splosions R Kewl" action romp full of Michael Bay moments - contrary to what its trailer blatantly suggests.
- N.G.O. Superpower: Interpol, in the film, has much greater policing jurisdiction than it does in real life.
- Noble Demon: Simeon Weisz seems to think of himself as this.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Andre Baptiste (senior) is partially based on Charles Taylor, former leader of Liberia.
- And Colonel Oliver Southern is an obvious Expy of Oliver North, the Reagan-appointed official who was an alleged head of the Iran-Contra arms deals.
- Not So Different:
- A variation on this: while high on Brown Brown, Yuri encounters a hyena, and they just stare at each other for a long time. One is an opportunistic predator who profits from the misfortunes of other creatures. The other is a hyena.
- Done rather explicitly in the case of Yuri and Andre Baptiste Sr. after they both have to bury their family member, with Yuri noting that they both see something of themselves in each other that they clearly don't like.
- Object Tracking Shot: The bullet being created at the start.
- Offstage Villainy: When Andre Jr. is introduced, Yuri notes internally that this son of an African dictator is a psychopathic murderer, rapist, and cannibal. Though he does end up shooting at civilians, none of Jr.'s most heinous crimes are shown.
- Orange/Blue Contrast: The interrogation scene with Jack Valentine is a particularly pronounced example of the trope.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: The code to unlock Yuri's secret container where he hides his gun running documents and items is the date of his son's birthday, which Ava realizes within less than a minute.
- Perma Stubble: Vitaly has it, which doubles as a Beard of Sorrow since he ends up as incompetent, drug-addicted loser compared to his brother, and he knows it.
- Plausible Deniability: It's revealed in the end that Yuri acts as a middleman for the US Government, selling arms to goverments and groups that the US doesn't want to be publicly associated with. Even though this effectively gives him a "Get out of Jail Free" Card, Yuri bleakly wonders when his benefactors will decide that he's no longer useful to them.
- People's Republic of Tyranny: Yuri notes that in Africa, the more high-sounding and noble a political faction's name is, the less likely it is to be like it claims. See The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized.
- Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: Yuri, especially when wandering in the African town and encountering two guerilla soldiers.
- Pragmatic Villainy:
Yuri: I never sold to Osama bin Laden. Not on any moral grounds; back then, he was always bouncing checks.
- Pretty Little Headshots: Repeatedly and sickeningly averted.
- Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": During the weapons sale in Sierra Leone, Andre Baptiste Jr. is trying out the M60 from the first Rambo movie which Yuri finally brought him. He guns down civilians on the side of the road while laughing with glee.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: Yuri manages to evade the law and escape a long stay in prison to continue his gunrunning. However, this comes at the cost of his brother and uncle being killed, his parents disowning him, and his one true love divorcing him and taking his only son with her. Plus he seems to realize that he's the bad guy in all this, but he can't get away from it. He is also aware that he only escaped jail due to being considered useful to the U.S. government which means that as soon as he stops being useful, he will be disposed of. This is hammered home by the Interpol agent chasing him saying that he would like to wish that Yuri would go to Hell, but he thinks he's already there.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: The writers were apprehensive about including Brown Brown in the movie, fearing that the audience would think that it was made up.
- Real Life:
- As stated above, Yuri and his exploits are based on real people, along with the horrible facts of the international arms trade. Yuri notes the five main arms dealers in the world are governments holding permanent UN Security Council seats, with a veto over any General Assembly resolutions to stop the trafficking. They are: the US, UK, France, Russia and Germany (China in the movie, though it's actually the 11th greatest arms dealer in the world. Probably changed to encompass all of the five permanent members of the Security Council. Still, four out of five...the point is made).
- The film makers found it cheaper to have gun dealers provide real weapons and tanks for the film props. The tanks you see in the movie had to be back to their gun dealer for his deal with a foreign country.
- The cargo plane in the film was also borrowed from the same dealer. In the commentaries, they joked about how they had to use CGI for the scene where the plane gets gutted because its owner would not be happy if they really trashed his cargo plane.
- Reckless Gun Usage: Played for laughs and deadly seriously.
- Redemption Equals Death:
- Vitaly appears to invoke this, given he surely realizes he won't get away with destroying an arms deal and killing the son of the leader of the country orchestrating it.
- Subtly invoked in the scenes after Yuri kills Simeon. He clearly wants to die but death seems to elude him.
- Reliably Unreliable Guns: Yuri is nearly executed by a pair of thugs in Africa. One aims his AK-47 (sold to him by Yuri, naturally), pulls the trigger... nothing. Clears the jam, sticks it in his face again, pulls the trigger... nothing. Yuri points out that they'll do that sometimes and tries to fix the jam for him... the thug just hits him with the butt and knocks him out. Well, it was worth a shot, anyway...
- Renegade Russian: More than one.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilised: Discussed, along with Full-Circle Revolution.
: "I guess they [African militants] can't own up to what they usually are: a federation of worse oppressors than the last bunch of oppressors. Often, the most barbaric atrocities occur when both sides proclaim themselves freedom-fighters.
- "Ride of the Valkyries": The music playing while Yuri visits the arms convention in Berlin.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Much of the film's plot and many of its characters.
- Robotic Assembly Lines: The arms factory in the opening scene.
- Self-Inflicted Hell: Because of the things he's done, Yuri Orlov has lost his brother, had his wife and son walk out on him, and his parents disown him. As Agent Valentine says to him:
"I would tell you go to hell... but I think you're already there."
- Senseless Sacrifice: When Vitaly realizes that the guns Yuri is about to sell will shortly be used to massacre a settlement of unarmed refugees, he attempts to sabotage the sale by destroying the weapons, very likely knowing that he will be killed for doing so. Unfortunately, he is killed before he can destroy both truckloads of weapons, so the sale goes through anyway and the remaining weapons are used to carry out the slaughter.
- Shoot the Dog: Late in the film, Yuri is forced to execute Simeon in order to prove his loyalty to Baptiste.
- Significant Reference Date: December 25th, 1991: the day the Soviet Union fell.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: This is a very cynical movie.
- Spent Shells Shower: So much that the opening scene has Yuri walking in a deserted, war-torn African city where the ground is literally covered with bullet casings.
- Stalker with a Crush: Yuri towards his wife, whom he falls in love with after seeing once. He even arranges their first meeting under the pretense of doing a photo shoot of her, just to have an excuse to talk.
- Standard Snippet: The music that plays when recounting Yuri and Vitaly's upbringing in New York is the "Song of the Volga Boatmen", a well-known folk piece that's very commonly used to represent Russia in popular culture. Or in this case, Ukraine.
- Stiff Upper Lip: A customs official cocks his submachine gun and points it at Yuri, ordering him to answer a question he's been asked.
Yuri: Ah, the new MP5. Would you like a silencer for that?
- Sympathy for the Hero: Yuri grudgingly shows admiration for Valentine's integrity and seems to have some genuine sympathy for him at the end as Valentine is betrayed by the system.
- Tempting Fate: Uncle Dmitri's last words are, "I am the luckiest man alive!"
- Yuri's monologue does this.
"I wasn't worried. There's hardly any radar over most of Central Africa, and even fewer people to watch it." [cue Agent Valentine in a jet fighter on Yuri's tail]
- Tested On Humans: Baptiste Sr. guns down one of his own aides to test out Yuri's merchandise. Yuri is horrified... but quickly realized that was the wrong move, so covers for it by angrily exclaiming, "Now you have to buy it! I can't sell a used gun." This also gave him an excuse to take the gun away (allegedly for cleaning and inspection, but really to get it out of Baptiste's hand). Fortunately, Baptiste finds this humourous.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Part of Yuri's hypocrisy. Despite supplying guns to people he knows for a fact are about to commit acts of murder with them, Yuri refuses to get involved in physical combat himself because "it's not our fight". HE visibly cringes whenever someone actually gets shot in front of him. When he's forced to commit murder (of his own hated business rival) by Andre Baptiste, he nearly hits the Despair Event Horizon.
- Title Drop: The title is what Andre Baptiste says instead of "warlord" but he prefers it his way. You don't want to question him on that, but you've got to admit it sounds better than his "bath of blood."
- Villain Protagonist: Yuri is a gunrunner who sells weapons to anybody, including violent dictators and human rights violators. We're shown what a disaster his love life and family relationships are in such a way that you have to stop and feel sorry for him.
- Vodka Drunkenski: Yuri's uncle, an alcoholic Ukrainian general.
- War for Fun and Profit:
- Subverted with the protagonist arms dealer Yuri Orlov. He doesn't instigate any wars, nor does he care about the outcome, he simply provides weapons to those who do, pointing out that he doesn't put a gun in anyone's hands and force them to shoot.
- His main competitor Simeon Weisz is closer to a straight version of the trope, stating that he supplied guns to Iraq and Iran during their war because he "wanted both sides to lose."
- War Is Hell: Those who suffer in war are rarely those who benefit and conflict need not be just. The special horror is feeding murder and destruction for monetary gain.
- We Can Rule Together: Simeon makes an offer to partner up with Yuri at one point, but he rejects it.
- What You Are in the Dark: How Valentine keeps his African partner from just slitting Yuri's throat and making him vanish as far as the rest of the world is concerned, after just missing out on a bust thanks to Yuri making the evidence disappear.
- Why We Are Bummed Communism Fell:
- Played straight by Simeon Weisz, who believes that the fall of the Soviet Union heralds a complicated, chaotic era where it's difficult to determine what side to take, and that it can't last.
- Inverted by Yuri, who's ecstatic that the Soviet Union fell not only because he could now loot military hardware in the Ukraine, but because he thinks things have gotten simpler in gun running rather than more complex - he now ships to everyone and every side, and that politics should be left out of it.