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Film / Mongol

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Mongols need laws. I will make them obey... even if I have to kill half of them. Our laws will be simple. Don’t kill women or children. Don’t forget your debts. Fight enemies to the end. And never betray your khan.

Mongol is a 2007 film Biopic about Genghis Khan. The film traces the early part of the life of Temudgin, the man who became Genghis Khan, starting with his selection of future wife Borte when he was nine years old. The film follows Temudgin through his father Esugei's murder, the usurpation by Targutei (another member of Temudgin's clan), Temudgin's friendship and then rivalry with Jamukha (leader of another clan), his defeat by Jamukha, his return and triumph, and Temudgin's eventual unification of the various Mongol tribes.

Mongol was directed by Sergei Bodrov, and was a joint Russian/Kazakh/German production. The film was shot in Inner Mongolia and the dialogue is in the Mongolian language. It is a considerably better film than previous pseudo-historical films about Genghis Khan such as the disastrous The Conqueror (1956, with John Wayne as Temudgin!), The Mongols (1961), Genghis Khan (1965), as well as being more historically accurate, though it takes its share of major artistic license.


  • Audible Sharpness: Many swords getting yanked out of scabbards with dramatic sound effects.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: The soundtrack by Tuomas Kantelinen is a combination of traditional Mongolian throat singing and this, with contributions by Mongolian folk rock band Altan Urag. For example, the track "No Mercy".
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: The Tangut people are depicted as speaking Mandarin Chinese. While the Tanguts were distantly related to and shared a language family with the Han Chinese (they are both Sino-Tibetan peoples), as well as being heavily influenced by the Chinese to the point of adopting Chinese characters, Tangut is still not intelligible with the Chinese languages at all and shares more similarities to Tibetan. Perhaps because the movie was filmed in China where Mandarin is widely spoken while the Tangut language went extinct around 1500 (it is still undergoing linguistic reconstruction today), they just decided to go with Mandarin for the sake of convenience.
  • Badass Boast: Temujin and Yesukhei both get ones that are both badass and hilarious.
    Yesukhei: (after piledriving someone) That is why I am KHAN!
    • And later.
    Borte: (sultrily) Don't you want to touch me, Temujin?
    Temujin: Heh. My touch would break you in half.
  • Barbarian Hero: Temujin himself, most prominently.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Lots of Mongols have this hairstyle. Frozen wasteland that Mongolia is depicted as, it makes sense.
  • Barbarian Tribe: The Mongols are big, hairy, clannish, drunk, fur-clad and warlike. They're like the Vikings of Asia that way.
  • Based on a True Story: The extended sequence where Temudgin is captured by Jamukha, sold into slavery, and imprisoned by the Tangut people, is fictional. Most of the rest of the film is broadly historically accurate.
  • Battle in the Rain: The final battle between Temudgin and Jamukha, in which Temudgin wins and unites the Mongol tribes. And the rain was the reason he won—see Call-Back below.
  • Blood Brothers: As boys, Temudgin and Jamukha pledge loyalty to each other, complete with a Blood Oath palm-slicing ritual. Thereafter they call each other "brother". So when Jamukha eventually becomes Temudgin's rival and enemy, it's Serious Business.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Yesugei. His idea of fun is kicking a guy in the head and challenging him to a bout of Mongolian wrestling.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Temudgin is bought as a slave by a Tangut lord, the lord's Buddhist monk says don't do it, because Temudgin will bring destruction. The lord laughs at this, and imprisons Temudgin with a sign over his cell mocking Temudgin's pledge to destroy the Tangut kingdom. The monk, for his part, asks Temudgin to spare the monastery when he wrecks the Tanguts. Temudgin wrecks the Tanguts, but spares the monastery.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early in the film, Temudgin, his father Esugei, and their party, hide in a cave when a thunderstorm passes. Esugei explains that "Thunder means our god Tengri is angry. All Mongolians are afraid of it." Later, during the final battle, another thunderstorm arrives, but Temudgin rallies his troops and wins the battle. An astonished Jamukha asks why he wasn't afraid, and Temudgin explains that he was no longer afraid because he had nowhere to hide.
  • Culture Clash: A minor one between the polished, effeminate Tanguts and the wild, manly, savage Mongols represented by Temujin. The following exchange sums it up pretty well.
    Monk: My faith does not allow me to kill.
    Temujin: (unimpressed) Mine does.
  • Determinator: The monk who talks to Temudgin walks through the desert alone and with no provisions to deliver a message to Borte dying just a few kilometers shy of her location.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: The Merkits wear masks, which comes in handy when Temudgin and Jamukha raid their camp to liberate Borte.
  • Grim Up North: The Mongol steppes.
  • Headbutt of Love: Temudgin and Jamukha do this. Mostly because they're drunk.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Temudgin and Jamukha take superior elevation and fortify their position in their battle against the Merkits. So far, so good. However, when the enemy approaches, they climb over their own fortifications and charge, even though they have archers and could have shot at them from cover AND with the elevation advantage.
  • How We Got Here: The film starts with Temudgin as a prisoner being held captive in the Tangut kingdom, before vaulting back to his childhood.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Temudgin pins a Merkit to a wooden pole with his spear.
  • I Want Them Alive!: "I want Temudgin alive!" says Jamukha, probably because he doesn't want to kill his blood brother, even if they're now enemies.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: A lot of bloody spatter during various battle scenes.
  • Made a Slave: After capturing Temudgin, Jamukha sells him into slavery. Temudgin is sent to the Tangut kingdom, where he's imprisoned for being uppity.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: When Temudgin reclaims Borte from the Merkits, she is knocked up. The child becomes Temudgin's eldest son, Juchi, whom Temudgin insists on recognizing as his. In Real Life, the controversy of Juchi's paternity would eventually cost him a chance to succeed his father and played a large part in the fracturing of the Mongol Empire.
  • Manly Facial Hair: Temujin and many Mongols sport manly beards. Which is a much more accurate depiction than the infamous fu-manchu Mongols are for some reason associated with.
  • Poison Is Evil: Giving a guy poisoned milk as part of a hospitality ritual is pretty shady.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Mongols love war and loot. They also love feasting wildly after a victory and getting piss-eyed drunk.
  • Redundant Rescue: Temudgin rescues his wife from the Merkits, one of whom had taken her as a wife. When he finds her, she's already murdered her new husband and is ready to go.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Two men wishing to join Temudgin offer the body of his enemy and their khan as a gift. He has them executed under the law that forbids betraying one's khan.
  • Savage Wolves: Young Temujin prays before an idol of the thunder god Tengri, and is rewarded with a staring match with a white wolf for his faith. An example of Shown Their Work, as white wolves were seen as divine omens of victory in battle sent by Tengri.
  • Sequel Hook: The film was originally proposed as the first of a trilogy, which is probably why Temudgin lets Jamukha go at the end. Unfortunately, the sequels have gotten stuck in Development Hell.
  • Sour Supporter: Women getting stolen happens all the time in Mongolia at this time, and nobody thinks twice about so Jamukha is a little exasperated that Temujin wants him to go to war with the Merkits early on in the film to rescue Borte. He'll do it for this beloved blood-brother, anyway.
    Jamukha: Don't tell anyone we went to war over a woman.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: You'd expect Jamukha to die after Temudgin defeats his army in the climax. He was put to death in real life.
    • Temujin actually wanted to spare Jamukha in real life, but instead the latter committed a variant of Suicide by Cop, asking Temujin to end his life instead of sparing him, reasoning that there can only be one Khan.
  • Suicide Attack: In the final battle with Jamukha, Temudgin sends a small troop of horsemen, who are heavily armored, Reverse Grip Dual Wielding sabers and wearing helmets completely hiding their faces, against a full scale enemy charge. They do a lot of damage and break up the charge, but lose most of their number. The survivors pull back, leading the enemy into a barrage of arrows. None of them survive as they are killed by Friendly Fire.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: A rival tribe offers Esugei koumyss as a gesture of hospitality. After one of his bondsmen suggests that Esugei have a slave taste the koumyss first, Esugei says his duty as a chieftain is to observe the hospitality rites. Sure enough, the milk is poisoned, and Esugei dies.
  • Time Skip: 14 years, 1172-1186, between a childhood Temudgin escaping from Targutei and an adult Temudgin on the steppe.
  • Undying Loyalty: Mongols pride themselves on loyalty to their chieftains. Temujin later enforces this as an actual law.
    Jamukha: You leave, and I'll rip your rotting liver out.
    Mongol: You can try. (indicates Temujin) But my liver has a new master.
    • Later:
    Temujin: (to a statue of Tengri) Our laws will be simple: never forget your debts, never kill women or children, never run from your foes and never betray your Khan.
  • War God: Tengri is depicted as one - seeing how Temujin prays to him before a battle. Such as it is, there actually is a god of war in Altaic Mythology - Kyzaghan, a deity that some note is quite similar to Odin from Norse Mythology.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Temujin.
    Temujin: The Mongols need laws. I will make them obey, even if I must kill half of them.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Former blood brothers Temudgin and Jamukha become enemies after Temudgin refuses to follow Jamukha, and then two of Jamukha's lieutenants follow Temudgin instead.
    Temudgin: Forgive me, brother.
    Jamukha: I'm not your brother, I am your khan! And you are my slave!