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Film / Motherland

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Motherland is a 2017 film from Mongolia, directed by Victor Agar, starring E. Uuganbayar, G. Dulguun, and T. Battulga.

Sainaa is a young man from Ulaanbaatar who comes from money. It's his birthday. His friends Chingis and Amin-Erdene have arranged for an elaborate Paintball Episode party in which they dress up in military fatigues and engage in a game of Capture the Flag against another team toting paintball guns.

Sainaa is late to arrive because he has to extricate himself from under the hot babe sitting on his lap in his apartment, but eventually he joins his buddies, and they have a grand time running around in the wilderness shooting at enemy "soldiers". Finally they spot the other team's headquarters where their flag is kept. They enter the tent...and they're confronted by Japanese soldiers looking at a map.


It seems that Sainaa and his buddies have somehow traveled back in time to 1939, and specifically to the middle of the Battle of Khalkhin Gol, in which Mongolia and its ally Russia fought against the invading Japanese. The three young men, who were playing in an elaborate war game, find themselves in a terrifyingly real war as the Japanese attack.


  • All Is Well That Ends Well: After all that, it turns out that the whole battle was just an elaborate (and surely very expensive) simulation, paid for by Sainaa's grandfather to make his birthday really memorable.
  • An Arm and a Leg: A soldier loses both his legs to a Japanese shell. Our heroes get a little bit freaked out when the man's legs land right on them, with the rest of him toppling next to them in the trench.
  • And You Thought It Was a Game: Things have already gotten intense, but "not a game" is brought home to Sainaa and his friends when their paintball game guide is shot through the head by a Japanese officer.
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  • Capture the Flag: The objective of the paintball war game is to seize the other team's flag and bring it back to your base.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Everything—the paintball game instructor getting shot, the old nomad getting murdered, the gory and violent battle that the three friends find themselves in the middle of—was an elaborate game staged by Sainaa's grandfather. No one was hurt. Everybody, including all the "dead" characters, pops up alive at the end.
  • Fake-Out Opening: Starts with a Russian documentary on the battle of Khalkhin Gol. This proves to be a TV show that a fatigue-clad soldier is watching. Then another soldier (who turns out to be Chingis) bursts through a wall and they start brawling. Finally, they're revealed to be weekend warriors playing a paintball game.
  • Fan Disservice: The three buddies and their paintball game guide are chucked naked into a crude Japanese stockade.
  • Foreshadowing: The film opens with a Mongolian man watching a documentary about the 1939 Battle of Khalkhin Gol. Guess where the three friends time warp to?
  • Friendly Scheming: The three friends never time-warped, they didn't go to 1939, and the battle was an elaborate fake. It was all a scheme by Sainaa's grandpa to give him a really memorable birthday.
  • The Game Never Stopped: Sainaa and his friends didn't time warp to 1939 and Khalkhin Gol. They just wound up in a far more elaborate war game.
  • Gratuitous English: When the three friends are escorting the young woman and her baby, Amin-Erdene starts cooing at the baby in English for no obvious reason. It may be Hiding Behind the Language Barrier, as he tells the baby that the baby's mother is very pretty.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: The three friends and the guide are cupping their privates when they're first let out of the stockade.
  • Harakiri: A Japanese officer ritually disembowels himself, the battle having been lost.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The grizzled old Russian soldier tagging along with the three friends buys time for them to escape by posting himself behind a swelling of ground and firing at the oncoming Japanese. He is soon killed.
  • I Want My Mommy!: A wounded Mongolian soldier cries out for his mom before he dies.
  • Paintball Episode: Three upper-class young men go out into the countryside to play a paintball game. Events soon become far more real than they anticipated.
  • Plot Hole: Averted. Why did the Japanese soldiers who captured the three young men let them go, for no obvious reason, only to later chase after them? Because they're actors, that's why.
  • Potty Emergency: Amin-Erdene wets himself as the Mongolian officer tells them that they're being executed as Japanese spies. They are liberated by a senior officer moments later.
  • The Reveal: The gang didn't travel back in time, there was no battle, and no one got killed. It was all a very, very elaborate game staged by Sainaa's grandfather.
  • Scary Surprise Party: Sainaa's paintball game birthday party gets a lot scarier when the three friends suddenly find themselves in 1939 and in the middle of the blood and death of Khalkhin Gol.
  • Time Travel: For no obvious reason, three young men playing a paintball game find themselves in 1939 and a real war. Subverted at the end when it turns out to be an elaborate charade.