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Film / Tsogt Taij

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Tsogt Taij is a 1945 film from Mongolia.

It is the early 17th century and the Mongol Empire has largely broken up. In fact, the Mongolian homelands have been invaded by an alliance of Manchu Chinese and Tibetans. The Tibetans are backing the Chinese with the assurance that their "Yellow Hat" sect of Buddhism will become the state religion of Mongolia. Manchurian general Ambagi Tsetsen has also enlisted the support of Mongol prince Khush Khan, who is fully on board with turning his country over to the Chinese and Tibetans.

Opposing them is Ligden Khan, king of independent Mongolia. His chief supporter is Tsogt Taij, a Mongol prince who loathes the Chinese and the Yellow Hat Buddhists and is a strong Mongolian nationalist. Tsogt's son Arslan Taij is a warrior like his father but also has an eye for the ladies, and is distracted by a romance with princess Khulan, daughter of his father's enemy Khush Khan.


Tsogt Taij was made in a communist Mongolia that was a loyal client state of the Soviet Union. The anti-Buddhist theme of the film comes from the anti-Buddhist stance of the Mongolian government; this film was made less than ten years after violent government purges that killed thousands of monks and destroyed all but a few of the hundreds of Buddhist monasteries in Mongolia.


  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: It may seem strange to see Tibetan Buddhists as the bad guys bent on conquest. But back during the time era this film was set in, Tibet was in fact a military power that did sometimes engage in aggressive wars.
  • An Aesop: Mongolia should remain strong and united! And Buddhism is lame!
  • Based on a True Story: Tsogt Taij was a real person who did in fact fight against the Manchus and Tibetans. The film shows the ruins of the real guy's castle, as well as a rock that he really did leave an inscription on.
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  • Bedlah Babe: The Tibetan Honey Trap sent to Arslan Taij sheds her outer garments to reveal she's dressed in a fancy bra and harem pants. It's a rather startling moment, given that there isn't a bit of Fanservice in the movie up to that point and Arslan's previous love interest Khulan was fully clothed at all times.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: The Chinese and Tibetans count on the doctrine of Yellow Hat Buddhism to make the Mongolians easier to control. For that matter, the Tibetan lamas themselves are rather stupid. When the hosts of Tsogt Taij are bearing down on Lhasa, the lamas are praying rather than organizing a military defense, much to the horror of the chief Tibetan general.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Tsogt Taij defeats Khush Khan and kills him in personal combat, but is himself killed in the battle, as is Khulan. But Mongolia has defeated the invaders.
  • Blade-of-Grass Cut: Occasional close-ups of the flowers that decorate Mongolian grasslands.
  • Cassandra Truth: Tsogt Taij's mother begs him not to go on maneuvers with Guen Baatar, another Mongol general. She senses great danger. While Tsogt Taij is away, Khush Khan's men fall upon his castle, killing his mother and everyone else inside.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Khush Khan, who is firmly on board with the Chinese-Tibetan plot to subjugate Mongolia.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Tsogt Taij sends his son's severed head back to the Tibetans in reply to their peace parley.
  • Diegetic Switch: Some music starts playing as Tsogt Taij is having a talk with his mother. He leaves her and goes downstairs, revealing that the music is actually being played by a group of musicians inside the house.
  • Epic Movie: 2 1/2 hours long! Not without its moments of crudeness, like a wrestling scene where the medium camera shot reveals the close-up cameraman coming fully into frame before the film cuts to the close-up. But overall, surprisingly sophisticated for a movie made in a poor country that had little film-making experience.
  • Historical Domain Character: Several of them, including Tsogt and Arslan and Ligdan Khan, as the film is a Based on a True Story account of warfare in 17th century Mongolia.
  • Honey Trap: The Tibetans, on the verge of panic as Tsogt Taij's armies arrive at Lhasa, send a sexy Tibetan girl out to Arslan Taij, who is leading one of his father's armies. It works beautifully, as Arslan, who has a bad habit of thinking with his weiner, falls in love with the hot Tibetan girl, submits to the Dalai Lama, and calls off the attack on Lhasa. He winds up being executed by his father, but the delay allows for Khush Khan's army to arrive at Lhasa and attack Tsogt Taij.
  • I Have No Son!: "I renounce my father," says Khulan after finding out that her father Khush Khan is working with the Chinese and has massacred Tsogt's whole household. Later Tsogt says this word-for-word after finding out that his son Arslan has gone over to the Tibetans.
  • A Nazi by Any Other Name: The Tibetan Buddhists and Chinese, who are cruel and merciless. The Yellow Hat Buddhists even have a swastika, which are an actual symbol of Buddhism, but given the time the film was released, just as World War II was ending and the Soviets were finishing up kicking Nazi ass, the context is clear. Note also that the swastikas as shown in the movie are right-facing, Nazi style, while Buddhist swastikas are almost always left-facing.
  • Non-Nazi Swastika: Played with. It is a non-Nazi swastika, being a symbol of Tibetan Buddhism...but this film was made in a Soviet client state during the Second World War, and the Tibetan Buddhists are the bad guys, and clearly Nazi analogues (see A Nazi by Any Other Name above).
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: There's a peppy, up-tempo Mongolian musical motif that accompanies shots of horsemen riding across the plains. It seems incongruous when accompanying a long panning shot of all the dead Mongolian soldiers littering the steppe after Ligdan Khan's defeat by the Manchus.
  • Warrior Princess: Noble lady Khulan, daughter of prince Khush Khan, not only denounces him but put on armor and fights with Tsogt Taij in his army. She is shot with an arrow and killed during the climactic battle between Tsogt Taij and Khush Khan.
  • You Have Failed Me: One of Ambagi Tsetsen's lieutenants comes to him and confesses to having failed to retrieve the great seal of Genghis Khan. Ambagi has him executed.


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