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Film / Lord of War

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"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 directed by Andrew Niccol and starring Nicolas Cage, Bridget Moynahan, Ethan Hawke, Jared Leto, and Eamonn Walker.

The film revolves around Yuri Orlov (Cage), Ukrainian-American arms merchant extraordinaire, based on the Real Life Russian traffickers Viktor Bout and Leonid Minin.

A sequel, Lords of War, was announced in 2023. Niccol is set to return as director, with Cage reprising his role as Yuri and Bill Skarsgård portraying his son. The film is slated for release in 2024.

This film contains examples of:

  • The '80s: The first half of the film takes place in this decade, beginning in 1982. Yuri makes a lot of his money early on by selling guns to drug cartels in South America and Militant groups in Afghanistan. The film then shifts over to...
  • The '90s: Where most of the second half of the film takes place, following Yuri as he takes full advantage of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, making money off former Soviet arsenals. Yuri also does business in Africa, mostly in Liberia where he soon becomes an associate of savage dictator Andre Baptiste.
  • Action Genre Hero Guy: Jack Valentine, the Hero Antagonist of the film. Interpol agent, military buzzcut, played by Ethan Hawke, etc.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • When Liberian dictator Andre Baptiste casually guns down one of his own men in front of Yuri, the latter instinctively reacts with outrage only to have every gun in the room pointed at him. He covers this up by claiming that the gun Baptiste shot the guy with is now a piece of "used" merchandise, and Yuri won't be able to sell it to anyone else now. Baptiste finds this excuse oddly amusing, and makes Yuri his regular arms contact. Yuri's excuse is so funny because as a black market arms dealer virtually every gun he ever sells is "used", and such an exclamation can be read as a self-deprecating joke about his own out-of-place 'first world' demeanor.
    • Yuri's first customer is completely stone-faced through Yuri's pitch. When told "he could pump a mag into [Yuri] and never wake the guy in the next room", the man wordlessly loads the Uzi and points it at Yuri, who without a beat calmly notes "that would eliminate [his] opportunity for repeat business", prompting the faintest of Psychotic Smirks.
  • Affably Evil: Yuri himself, who is the film's protagonist and at the same time, at his best, an amoral arms dealer. Despite the wickedness of his profession, though, he abhors committing violence himself and tries to be diplomatic and polite in all his dealings (pragmatically so, as his clients are often psychopaths that he has no wish to provoke).
  • African Terrorists: Near the end of the film, Yuri is told by Baptiste to deliver weapons to the "freedom fighters" in Sierra Leone. They massacre a refugee camp shortly after Yuri completes the transaction.
  • All for Nothing:
    • Valentine finally succeeds in his hunt of Yuri, only to have all he's worked for invalidated by the fact that Yuri is too well-connected and far too useful to Valentine's bosses, up to and including the President, in acting as their middleman in global arms trades to ever face justice for his crimes.
    • Vitaly tries to sabotage one of Yuri's arms shipments to prevent them from being used to massacre a village. However, he only succeeds in destroying half of the weapons and getting himself killed. Yuri's client goes ahead with the massacre with the remaining weapons anyways. In addition, Yuri points out that even without guns, his client would have resorted to more primitive means to carry out the massacre.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Among them is the son of an African dictator who dresses up his harem of 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.
    • Somehow, Yuri has a high definition flatscreen television in 1991. Even for his wealth, that TV wouldn't have existed back then. His limo is a 1993 Cadillac Fleetwood, but first appears in scenes set in the 1980s.
    • Back in "the old days," Yuri had a Ukrainian passport, even though Ukraine did not get its own passport until independence in 1991.
    • When meeting Simeon Weisz, Yuri says he sold guns to both sides in the Iran–Iraq War, referring to it in the past tense. The scene takes place in 1983, when the war was still ongoing. It's possible that Simeon only sold weapons at the outset of the conflict until he was sure the two sides stalemated, but this is never made clear.
  • Ancestral Name: The Liberian dictator and his son are both named Andre Baptiste.
  • Arms Dealer:
    • Yuri Orlov (the eponymous "Lord of War"), Simeon Weisz, and some minor characters distribute weapons to various parties.
    • 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. On a hilarious note, the filmmakers actually had to inform NATO that the satellite images they were getting of platoons of tanks gathering was not in 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 the manufacturing plant to splatting the brain of a target.
  • Artistic License – Geography:
    • The film starts in an ammunition factory in Odesa. It does not exist and never did.
    • While on his drug trip, Vitaly forms a cocaine outline of Ukraine. It's backwards, but this could be because he's high and working off memory. Yuri tells him he'll overdose before he gets to Kyiv, which is not present on the outline. Unless he meant Kyiv region, which would require snorting half of the line.
    • Central Monrovia (Liberia capital) is shown as nothing but slums. This is not true. If Andre Baptiste or Yuri himself wanted, finding a better hotel would not be a problem. Though that's probably the point.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Despite Yuri's claim, the USSR never put the AK-47 on their currency.
    • Yuri, after finding he had unprotected sex in Liberia, claims "In the most AIDS infested region of the globe, where one in four is infected..." This is wrong both for West Africa and Liberia in particular, where HIV prevalence has never reached 2% since its identification. In 1995 — when this scene takes place — only 23 people were HIV-positive in the entire country. Yuri's claim of "one in four" is only true in a few Southern African countries.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • The Soviet Union phased out the AKMnote  in 1974, replacing it with the AK-74 in 5.45x39mm (although full issuance took until the Afghan invasion five to ten years later). Further, Soviet troops in 1991 are shown using Norinco Type 56-1s, Chinese copies of the AKMS, despite Soviet troops never using Chinese equipment, and Czech SA Vz. 58 rifles in the background of the Ukrainian armoury. The majority of rifles given to guerilla troops, however, are actual Soviet AKM rifles and East German AKMS rifles, while Yuri holds an actual AK-47 when touting its prowess, though his comment of forged steel construction is only true of early production models; starting with the AKM, the receiver was made of stamped steel.
    • 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 Generalnote , Uncle Dimitri would be in command of a division, of which 10,000 AK-47s is a bit more understandable.
    • Yuri claims the US military doesn't take their munitions when leaving a warzone, saying "it costs more to bring it back than to buy new stock." The US military does, in fact, take its munitions with them; every service member takes their personal issued weapon(s) with them (and will be in deep trouble if it goes missing) and every round of usable ammunition is returned for inspection and re-issue (for example, three ships returned full of ammo after Desert Storm). In some conflicts, the US will sell or donate large stockpiles of weapons and equipment to local allies and partners which can find their way into the black market through various means or fall into enemy hands (as happened in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan), however that is not what is depicted or implied in the film.
    • Yuri refers to his uncle as a Major-General. His uniform has two stars, which indicates a Major-General in most NATO countries, but is a higher ranking Lieutenant-General in the Soviet/Russian Army.
    • US Army Lt. Colonel Southern's first appearance shows him wearing a Marine uniform, with a full Colonel's insignia, and a General's hat with the emblem of an Enlisted man.
  • Artistic License – Religion: Yuri states that his mother is Catholic. While not impossible, it is more likely that she would have been Orthodox, which was the majority faith of Christians in the Soviet Union and Ukraine in particular (Catholics make up a small minority). Western regions of Ukraine do have "Greek Catholics" (basically, Orthodox who obey the Pope), but they are even less common in Odesa.
  • Ax-Crazy: Andre Baptiste Jr., naturally. Baptiste Sr. qualifies as well, to the point of shooting one of his own men for even looking sideways towards his woman. He's usually more restrained about it most of the time, though.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • Yuri paraphrases that this is the way of the world:
    Yuri: They say, "Evil prevails when good men fail to act." What they ought to say is, "Evil prevails."
    • Yuri gets away with his gunrunning crimes and gets to continue supplying weapons to already war-torn countries as a middleman for the powerful. But he's also struck by Pyrrhic Victory, as come the end of the film, he's either lost or alienated everyone he cared about and has only the soul-sucking practice of arms-dealing to look forward to.
  • 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.
    Yuri Orlov: The first and most important rule of gun running is, Never get shot with your own merchandise.
  • Because I'm Good At It: The ultimate reason Yuri never gives up gunrunning, despite having very good reasons for doing so. He tries for a while, and he proves himself so great at managing shipping of fully legal goods that he could easily have a perfectly lawful and quite wealthy lifestyle, but when opportunity comes a-knocking this trope comes into play and he can't resist.
  • 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. In Yuri's words, he was more Jewish than most Jews.
    Anatoly Orlov: I'm going to temple.
    Irina Orlov: You're not going to temple! You go to temple more than the Rabbi!
  • Big "YES!": It's partly muted by his voiceover narration, but Yuri is shouting "Da, da, da!" while watching Mikhail Gorbachev's resignation speech.
  • 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 via his gunrunning, but he is nowhere near as bad as Baptiste, who is an insane dictator who murders people on a whim, forces children to fight for him, allows his cannibalistic son free reign and gladly 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.
  • Bookends: 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. Although it's only at the end that it becomes clear that these are meant to represent every bullet that Yuri has ever sold, and the many deaths his bullets have caused by proxy.
  • Boom, Headshot!:
    • The movie opens with a montage of a bullet traveling from the factory where it was made to the midst of a civil war in Africa... where it is fired from a gun into the head of a young boy.
    • Simeons dies in this manner. When Yuri hallucinates that he sees Simeon's ghost during the Brown-brown scene, we get a look at the ghastly exit wound in the back of Simeon's head.
  • Boring, but Practical: Jack Valentine says that more prestige attaches to agents who enforce U.N. regulations against biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons, but in his view, small arms like the AK-47 are the real "weapons of mass destruction", simply because there are more of them, and more people are killed by them every day, than ever die from the more "glamorous" types of weapons.
  • 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, 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.
    Yuri: I think I've been cursed, with the curse of invincibility.
  • Brainless Beauty: Ava is one of these and she goes into a Heroic Self-Deprecation speech near the end of the film as she realizes she's been nothing but an aging pretty face who has failed every pursuit she's tried in life while living off the wealth of a horribly immoral man who supplies weapons to murderous madmen without her notice. In the end, she decides to snitch on Yuri to Interpol after finding his secret business spot and take their son into hiding to at least redeem her complicity if only a little.
    Ava: I feel like all I've done my whole life is be pretty. I mean all I've done is be born. I'm a failed actress, a failed artist, not much good as a mother. Come to think of it, I'm not that pretty anymore. I have failed at everything, Yuri. But I won't fail as a human being.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Bookends 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 come back to gunrunning, Jr. says he's still waiting for the gun. Eventually, we finally see Jr. with the gun and he announces his acquisition by mowing down a group of civilians while Yuri watches.
  • Broken Pedestal: When Yuri is new to gunrunning, he is in awe of famous Arms Dealer Simeon Weisz, and when he tries to bring a business proposal to Simeon, he acts similar to a fan trying to pitch an idea to their favorite star. Yuri never does forgive Simeon's condescending rejection... at least, not until after Andre forces Yuri to kill Simeon.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Yuri scolding Andre Baptiste for firing a sample gun at a nearby soldier, and then repeatedly correcting his Malapropers comes off as this, considering Yuri is smack dab in the middle of the other man's country, surrounded by hundreds of (possibly his own) guns. Andre, however, is pretty amused by Yuri's candidness.
  • 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 fit as an amoral arms dealer, yet not too amoral as to be completely loathsome.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Jack Valentine. He knows that Yuri is an international Arms Dealer who regularly breaks the law and supplies murderous dictators, but he refuses to break the law himself to catch Yuri. In fact, he detains Yuri on a technicality for 24 hours (after rejecting an offer by one of his agents to simply "disappear" Yuri) not out of pettiness, but because it's the only legal way that he can ensure that Yuri's cargo does not reach its destination for another day. He is shaken in his belief towards this when he realizes that Yuri can never be legally convicted for his crimes due to his connections to powerful entities like the President using him as a go-between for global arms trading.
  • 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.
  • Catchphrase: Andre Baptiste Sr. responds "Thank you... but I prefer it my way" every time Yuri corrects his Malapropers.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The film becomes less funny and more serious when Yuri decides to start doing business in Africa. There's still a lot of black humor when he first starts doing so, but it soon morphs into drama and tragedy.
  • Child Soldiers: Baptiste's Kalashnikov Kids, his Boys Brigade.
    Baptiste: A bullet from a fourteen year old is just as effective as one from a forty year old, often more effective.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Colonel Southern, Yuri's contact in the US Army, who appeared in a couple of scenes in his full uniform with his face covered in shadows. He's the one who busts Yuri out of Valentine's custody in the ending.
  • 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!"
  • Commissar Cap: Many Ukrainian army officers wear them.
  • Comically 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 inventory book] 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.
  • Corrupt Quartermaster: As part of the trade, Yuri is searching for those and bribes them to handle over their stock. Or just outright corrupts them himself.
  • Cowboy Cop: Defied. 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 of a Child: Child Soldiers are gunned down multiple times during the movie, most notably at the end of the opening cinematic, which follows a bullet's life from construction to its use in a third world civil war.
  • 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 - as Yuri predicted - there's a knock on the door.
    • 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.
    Valentine: 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 and has a display of rifles in his shipping container/vault.
  • 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 Victory below).
  • Dramatic Gun Cock: Happens a lot in a movie about dealing guns.
  • End of an Age: The fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War also meant the end of weapons dealing as a form of political power. Weapons dealers like Simeon who were motivated by geopolitics are quickly replaced by dealers who are more interested in profit over politics.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Yuri realizes that there is more money in selling guns to all sides rather than a select few.
    "I sell to leftists and rightists. I'd sell to pacifists, but they're not the most regular of customers."
  • 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. However, it appears that Yuri does not make a habit out of selling drugs, albeit likely more for pragmatism than any kind of moral standard.
    • 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.
    • With how Yuri handles the end of the Cold War, he comments in the narration that the "Old Guard" thought he was giving arms dealers a bad name.
    • 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.
    • Invoked by Yuri when he notes that whatever one might say about warlords and dictators, they are reliable customers and always pay their bills on time.
  • Expy: Colonel Southern for Oliver North.
  • The Faceless: We never get a clear look at Colonel Southern's face.
  • Failure Hero: Valentine realises at the end he's nothing more than this. A rare breed of a law enforcement officer who will not stoop to unscrupulous methods to bring wanted men to justice. But he's oblivious as to how the world works, or the painful fact that his boss the US President ships more weapons every day than Yuri can manage in a year.
  • 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.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Andre Baptiste and Andre Junior are both very welcoming to Yuri, but only because he’s doing business to help with their cruel regime. Other then him, they’re vicious and brutal.
  • Firing in the Air a Lot: Baptiste Jr. Someone must spend a lot of time reloading his custom gold-plated magazines for him.
  • First Person Smart Ass: 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 Cuss Word: Dimitri and Yuri's pilot are shown to curse in Russian mat from time to time.
  • 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 and discussed. Yuri's narration points out that many law enforcement officers are willing to do this, but Jack Valentine is one of those rare truly honest ones who wouldn't do this.
    "I was guilty as sin, but Valentine couldn't prove it. And he was the rarest breed of law enforcement officer: the type who knew I was breaking the law, but wouldn't break it himself to bust me."
  • Gangsta Style: Again, a sign that African militaries are not among the world's best-trained. Interestingly, one militiaman firing a rifle this way actually manages to hit Vitaly several times.
  • "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.
  • Girl Next Door Turned Superstar: Yuri had a crush on the local beauty queen, Ava Fontaine, while growing up. When he's a successful Arms Dealer, he arranges to meet her, and they get married. When she finds out what he does for a living, and he refuses to give it up, she leaves him and takes their son with her.
  • Gun Porn: Throughout, but special mention goes to Yuri's loving description of the AK-47.
    Yuri Orlov: Of all the weapons in the vast Soviet arsenal, nothing was more profitable than Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947. More commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It's the world's most popular assault rifle. A weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple 9 pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood. It doesn't break, jam, or overheat. It'll shoot whether it's covered in mud or filled with sand. It's so easy, even a child can use it; and they do. The Soviets put the gun on a coin. Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the end of the Cold War, the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people's greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists. One thing is for sure, no one was lining up to buy their cars.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: When Agent Valentine asks Yuri a question and another Interpol agent puts an MP5 to his head and does a Dramatic Gun Cock, while his off-hand is on Yuri's shoulder. The MP5 requires both hands to operate the action.
  • 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.
  • Hollywood Law: Interpol gets portrayed as something of an international FBI, with field agents who hunt down arms traffickers. This is not the case. Interpol serves as a network to coordinate the efforts of national police combating international crimes (including arms trafficking). It has no agents who can make arrests. Interpol primarily serves to put different national police agencies in contact with each, maintain a criminal database and put out notices of wanted criminals. In any case, Interpol agents would have no authority to be holding an arms trafficker, and a US Army general would have no authority to have them release him, and waving guns and trying to boss around ex-Soviet troops at a Ukrainian base would only get the Interpol agents arrested or shot.
  • Honest John's Dealership: Yuri starts off as essentially a gun dealing version of this trope. Later he hits the big time in a way that most Honest Johns never dream of.
  • Hookers and Blow: Vitaly is a major fan of both. Which ends up ruining his life and getting him sent to rehab twice.
  • Hope Spot: After Ava learns the truth from Valentine, she pleads with Yuri to stop his arms dealing business, and for a brief while it actually worked and Yuri attempted to go clean. However, Andre Baptiste suddenly shows up at his doorstep one day and presents a very lucrative offer, prompting Yuri to go back into arms dealing once more. It gets Vitaly killed, his parents disowning him, Ava leaving him with his kid, and getting arrested by Valentine. Though he has a "Get Out of Jail Free" Card for the last one, he has nothing else left in his life besides arms dealing.
  • I Have No Son!: After being arrested by the ATF, Yuri calls his parents and gets this response from his mother: "Both my sons are dead."
  • 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 some real African dictators (i.e. Idi Amin).
  • Impairment Shot: The entire scene of Yuri wandering around the African city while drunk and high.
  • 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.
  • Insult Backfire: Valentine impotently tells Yuri "I would tell you to go to Hell, but I think you're already there.", rings hollow in light of his earlier disillusionment as to how the world truly works and the evil men who rule it. And if Valentine's right, it means he's in Hell as well.
  • Interpol Special Agent: Interpol agent Jack Valentine pursues the illegal Arms Dealer main character. They're so powerful that his team is shown bossing ex-Soviet soldiers around, which in reality would just get them all shot. Oddly, late in the film the Villain Protagonist refers to the U.S. President as being Valentine's boss, and uses contacts in the US military to get himself released when Valentine has arrested him, so one wonders if Agent Valentine switched jobs at some point.
  • 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.
  • Irony: 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).
  • It's Snowing Cocaine: Yuri Orlov, an Arms Dealer, is unexpectedly paid in cocaine by a Colombian drug lord. His brother Vitaly steals a kilo, then goes around Latin America visiting whorehouses. When Yuri catches up with him again, Vitaly has used all the coke to form a map of their homeland the Ukraine. Yuri stops him from snorting all of it before he overdoses.
  • Just a Gangster: Despite having all the reasons in the world to go straight, enough money to live on forever, and a serious investigation by the police, Yuri passes up numerous chances to get out of illegal arms dealing and remains a criminal. He does briefly leave arms dealing behind, due to the pleas of his wife, but in the end he returns to it, in part because the legitimate business he tried to get involved with is boring to him with a lower profit margin, in part because arms dealing is what Yuri is good at.
  • 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. They even acknowledge it:
    Valentine: He's gonna get what's coming to him.
    Mbizi: I'm not as certain.
  • Karmic Shunning: After the death of his brother led to his secret life as an Arms Dealer being revealed, Yuri ends up disowned by his parents while his wife, the model he lusted after in his youth, finally leaves him, taking their son with her.
  • Laughably Evil: There's something alarmingly disarming about Andre Baptiste, an African warlord who might casually shoot one of his soldiers one moment then seconds later comment how MTV is setting a bad example for the new generation.
  • Lethal Chef: Vitaly is a terrible chef. After nearly choking on some borscht, Yuri points out that he could eat for free in the restaurant and yet he still doesn't eat there.
  • 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.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Valentine attempts to stop Yuri when he's looting former Soviet warehouses in Ukraine because he has a helicopter gunship destined for Burkina Faso. Yuri has the rocket pods removed and shipped separately, claiming the helicopter is for humanitarian missions, thereby skirting the sanctions. Valentine isn't fooled for a second, but legally can't do anything.
      Yuri: I must point out that, when shipped separately, the weapons and the aircraft both comply with current Interpol trade standards and practices.
      Valentine: We both know that is an obscene bureaucratic loophole that's gonna be closed any God damned day.
      Yuri: But it's not closed. And while certain people might interpret this cargo as suspicious, thank God we live in a world where suspicion alone does not constitute a crime, and where men like you respect the rule of law.
    • At one point, Valentine manages to corner Yuri but he doesn't have any concrete evidence to justify arresting him (since Yuri already let the local villagers take all the guns away). Valentine instead cited that he's legally allowed to 'detain' Yuri for 24 hours and he's gonna use every single second of it and handcuff Yuri to a briefcase and strand him in the middle of nowhere, reasoning that one day of Yuri not going about his gunrunning business means one more day given to the innocent people who would've been killed by the guns he's selling. Yuri also darkly speculates that Valentine left him out there in hopes that the African wilderness or bandits would kill him.
  • The Mafiya: They briefly appear early on, as Yuri talks about how murder was so commonplace in Little Odessa right before he actually witnesses a mob boss take down two would-be assassins.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Despite getting shot in the side by an angry drug lord, Yuri still completes a sale, and doesn't even pass out from the blood loss afterward.
  • 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, narrating that he "nearly went broke trying to convince her he was anything but." 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.
  • Murder by Mistake: After Yuri rejects Simeon Weisz's desperate offer of partnership, Simeon rigs Yuri's car to explode. Yuri gifts it to his uncle, who is blown up in his place.
  • 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.
  • Nerves of Steel: Say all the deservedly horrible things you want about Yuri, the man can casually negotiate and even chastise the worst kinds of despots and warlords without even a hint of worry across his face.
  • 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:
    • Yuri Orlov himself is loosely based on real world arms dealer Viktor Bout.
    • Andre Baptiste, Sr., 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.
  • Noodle Incident: In addition to having French, British, Israeli, and Ukrainian passports, Yuri also had a student visa for the US, "but that's another story."
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Yuri and Ava's son Nicolai never matures past the age of five, even though he was born no later than 1990, and the film ends around 2000 to 2001.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • 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.
    • Andre Baptiste Sr. is very amused when the Supreme Court halts the 2001 vote recount.
      "You know, they accuse me of rigging elections. But after this — with your Florida and your Supreme Court of kangaroos — now, the U.S. must shut up forever."
  • Object-Tracking Shot: The bullet being created at the start. Initially a Oner, but there are obvious time-skips whenever the world outside the crate is obscured.
  • 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 governments 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 what 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:
    • When Yuri says that he used to sell weapons to the Mujahideen in Afghanistan who were fighting against the Soviet invasion, he takes a moment to note that he never sold weapons to Osama Bin Laden, who was involved in that conflict. However, the reason why Yuri didn't sell to Bin Laden has nothing to do with morals.
    Yuri: I never sold to Osama bin Laden. Not on any moral grounds; back then, he was always bouncing checks.
    • Nearly all of the gangsters, drug kingpins, and warlords that Yuri does business with do not pull a Ballistic Discount because Yuri is a valuable supplier and killing him would not only eliminate the opportunity for return business, but serve as a giant red flag to other potential arms dealers that this particular client cannot be trusted. For instance, the warlord in Sierra Leone doesn't kill Yuri even after Vitali kills one of his allies and destroys half the weapons that Yuri brought him. He just calmly swipes away half of Yuri's payment since the other half of the weapons remains intact.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: Repeatedly and sickeningly averted.
  • Protagonist Title: Debated within the film; African dictator Andre Baptiste muses about how western media calls him a warlord, but says it might better apply to main character and narrator Yuri Orlov, his trusted Arms Dealer.
  • 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 Victory: 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.
  • Ready for Lovemaking: When Yuri visits Liberia, he finds two African prostitutes, Iman and Naomi, dressed in lingerie waiting for him in his hotel bedroom. He figures this is a cruel joke on the part of the dictator who's hosting him, since he doesn't have a condom and the part of the world he's in means he would be flipping a coin on getting HIV if he went for it. Despite getting quite turned on, his big head prevails over his little one and he tells them to get out.
  • 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.
    • The sheer audacity with which the former Soviet militaries were looted for profit can be hard for some viewers to take seriously—but in the near-lawlessness of the early to mid-'90s, guns and tanks were just another asset on the books, and soldiers had to eat just like everyone else.
  • Realpolitik: Yuri Orlov tries to ingratiate himself with Simeon Weisz, an established and influential Arms Dealer. Weisz rebukes him, pointing out that he sells arms for political reasons. When Orlov points out that he sold weapons to both the Iraqis and the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq War, he counters by stating that he wanted both sides to lose in that conflict. The end of the Cold War causes no small amount of disillusionment to the man, since the USSR is no longer a major player in world politics and new arms dealers are only interested in profit and don't care who they sell to.
  • 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 comments that they don't usually do that and to fix the jam for him... the thug just hits him with the butt. Well, it was worth a shot, anyway...
  • Renegade Russian: Corrupt ex-Soviet troops (most notably Yuri's uncle Dmitri, who was a Soviet general) are a key part of Yuri's success in gunrunning, as they allow him to cheaply acquire enormous stockpiles of guns which he can sell for large sums all over the world.
  • Resign in Protest: At the end of the film Yuri predicts that this will be Agent Valentine's response to being told to let Yuri go. It's unknown if it actually happens, however.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilised: Discussed, along with Full-Circle Revolution.
    Yuri: "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.
  • "Rise and Fall" Gangster Arc: Yuri amasses a fortune from dealing arms and marries the woman of his dreams, but his brother ends up getting murdered by a client, his wife leaves him, and Interpol arrest him. It's a downplayed example, however, as while his personal life is a shambles, the US government frees him before the Hero Antagonist can even finish interrogating him, as they consider him too valuable an asset to be sent to prison... for now.
  • Robotic Assembly Lines: The arms factory in the opening scene.
  • Running Gag: The Baptistes' constant inability to say or understand compound words (leading to the film's Title Drop).
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The main reason for Yuri avoiding jail time at the ending after Valentine caught him. He made many powerful friends in high places in his business, including a high-ranking military officer who's his direct contact to the US President himself. He acts as a middle-man to sell weapons on the President's behalf.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: After landing a cargo plane in the middle of Africa, Yuri's pilot and co-pilot abandon him to get as far from the evidence as possible.
  • 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:
  • 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. In his narration, Yuri points out that numerous other massacres were committed in Sierra Leone that week. Most of them were carried out with machetes.
  • Shoot the Dog: Late in the film, Yuri is forced to execute Simeon in order to prove his loyalty to Baptiste.
  • Shown Their Work: Despite the AK-47's famous reliability, they can indeed be easily jammed in the manner shown when two African thugs try and fail to kill Yuri. "Riding" the bolt on an AK rifle (keeping your hand on it while chambering instead of releasing and letting it slam into the battery) can cause the cartridge to fall out of the bolt face and lodge itself in the receiver.
  • Significant Reference Date: December 25th, 1991: the day the Soviet Union fell.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: This is a very cynical movie. It's about a gun-runner who sells arms to psychotic African warlords and avoiding the law as he does. The only idealistic characters are Yuri's brother Vitaly who dies trying to stop an arms sale, and the massacre he tried to prevent happens anyway and Interpol Agent Jack Valentine who staggers off the stage a Failure Hero, disillusioned with his government when Yuri uses his contacts with them to walk free in the face of his obvious provable guilt. Summed up with a single heartbreaking line delivered by Yuri in the film's closing scenes: They say evil prevails when good men fail to act. What they ought to say is: Evil prevails.
  • 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 eventual 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 while buying out the hotel to serve only the two of them, 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.
  • Starving Artist: Yuri's Trophy Wife Ava. While they're very well off, she still tries to find a day job through the course of the film. She fails to get into acting and later tries to become an artist, selling only one painting (which is actually bought by Yuri).
  • 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?
  • Swords to Plowshares: Yuri claims this is happening when Agent Valentine catches him shipping a helicopter gunship to the African nation of Burkina Faso. Yuri claims that with all the excess hardware after the recent fall of the Soviet Union, all they can do with it all is repurpose it for civilian use. Valentine isn't fooled, especially since the missiles and bullets for the helicopter are also going to Burkina Faso, albeit to a client at a different address. Unfortunately, this was apparently a real-life legal loophole at the time, and Valentine is forced to let Yuri go.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: Yuri grudgingly shows admiration for Valentine's integrity and seems to have at least 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 and yells at Baptiste, but quickly realises that's the wrong move, so covers for it by angrily claiming the gun is now used so he has to buy it. Which also gives him an excuse to take the gun away (allegedly for cleaning and inspection, but really to get it out of Baptiste's hand). Fortunately, while Baptiste sees right through the ruse, he finds it 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.
  • Time Lapse: After Yuri is detained and left in the middle of Africa by Agent Valentine, the locals come and dismantle his entire cargo plane in a beautifully crafted time lapse.
  • 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."
  • Trunk Shot: In the opening sequence (seen from the point of view of a bullet as it makes its way from factory to battlefield), several people are seen opening and peering into the crate that it is stored in via this shot composition.
  • Villain in a White Suit: Andre Baptiste, Sr., the brutal dictator of Liberia who uses drugged-up child soldiers and rules with an iron fist, favors a pure white uniform, except on ceremonial occasions.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Nearly the entire film is one long chain of criminals, drug lords, terrorists, warlords, and dictators buying guns from Yuri. When he's gone legitimate, Yuri is visited by the Baptistes, who say they're "hoping to do some shopping while in New York." He even does some of it himself. While surveying his uncle's arms warehouses, one of the Russian officers says "Tell you what: buy six tanks, you get one free."
  • 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.
  • Wall Bang Her: Vitaly does this with a showgirl from the Arms Fair where he and Yuri first meet Simeon.
  • 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. Normally Simeon only sells guns to further his pro-American and pro-Capitalist agenda, but Yuri tries to call him a hypocrite by noting how Simeon sold guns to both Iraq and Iran during their war. Simeon retorts that he sold to both sides 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 Yuri (who at that point is the more powerful man and sees Simeon as an outdated relic) rejects it.
  • Weapons Understudies: As mentioned above, many of the Soviet weapons are actually copies that were produced by the Chinese or Soviet satellite states.
  • 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.
    Mbizi: Let me make him disappear, Mr. Valentine. Around here people disappear all the time.
    Valentine: I can't do that.
    Mbizi: (Gestures to the empty African countryside) Look where we are. Who will know?
    Valentine: We will.
  • 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.
    • Yuri's Uncle switches from the Soviet Army to the Ukrainian following the USSR'S dissolution. He's clearly upset about the fact and still references the government being in Moscow despite the change.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Discussed by Yuri when he is freed from jail at the end and knows he is only out because he is still a valuable asset and also full well he could just as easily be made a scapegoat tomorrow and his tone makes it clear that he knows that it's only a matter of time until he ceases to be of value.

"You know who's going to inherit the Earth? Arms dealers. Because everyone else is too busy killing each other. That's the secret to survival. Never go to war. Especially with yourself."


Video Example(s):


...I'm a Necessary Evil.

After being caught and arrested, Yuri informs Jack that he will be released since that while he is an Arms Dealer that breaks international laws to deliver weapons to Warlords and Tyrants; unfortunately the customers he supplies them to are mutual enemies with other powers that the U.N. are fighting against, and that the US Government ships out more firearms than he does and do not want to be seen associating with making deals with the same Warlords unless Yuri is contracted to do it in their stead.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (17 votes)

Example of:

Main / NecessarilyEvil

Media sources: