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Eastern Promises (Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD)
Eastern Promises
Combo HD DVD and Standard DVD
Actors: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Director: David Cronenberg
Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
R     2007     1hr 40min

Viggo Mortensen and Academy Award® nominee Naomi Watts star in this electrifying thriller from critically acclaimed director David Cronenberg (A History of Violence). Criminal mastermind Nikolai (Mortensen) finds his ties ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl
Director: David Cronenberg
Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Format: HD DVD - Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 12/23/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2007
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 40min
Screens: Color,Widescreen,Anamorphic
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English, French, French
Subtitles: English, French
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Member Movie Reviews

Richard W. (rewfilmmaker) from NAPLES, FL
Reviewed on 9/12/2011...
Highly recommended if you like thrillers but there are a few episodes of violence that are up front and personal and will turn your stomach if your squeamish. They are done to illustrate the viciousness of the Russian mob; Viggo and Naomi show some convincing but off-beat chemistry. Nice twist at the end you'll never see coming.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.

Movie Reviews

Intriquing, well-acted, ADULT-THEMED thriller!
RMurray847 | Albuquerque, NM United States | 12/01/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I emphasized the "ADULT-THEMED" idea in my title because one of the best things about seeing a film like EASTERN PROMISES is that it is so adult, so uncompromised. Cronenberg gets to make the movies he wants to, and it doesn't have to be watered down or dumbed-down to make it sell to a broad audience. We get a brutal, sometimes squirm-inducing look at a underworld we haven't seen like this before...and there's no gloss, no pandering to a teen audience, no sappy ending, etc. etc. The ending is SATISFYING...but it isn't easy or "Hollywood."

First of all, the script is outstanding. From the creator of another stunning film about London's "seamy underbelly," DIRTY PRETTY THINGS...the plot makes sense, the threads all come together and the characters are simply but sharply delineated. Yet at no time do I feel the themes are being spoon-fed. Also, some of the acts that are perpetrated on Viggo Mortensen's character near the end of the film are acts of amazing betrayal...yet if you haven't been paying attention, you might miss that. It's not a super-complex plot...but it doesn't grab you by the hand and lead you from place to place.

Speaking of Mortensen...this is his best performance ever. Granted, Aragon is crown-jewel, and he handled it well...but those films were events, such spectacle that often what he simply needed to do was wear his costume, ride his horse and look great. In EASTERN PROMISES, he has to make us care about a very nasty piece of work indeed. He's also very much of what we learn about him, especially early on, comes from very subtle work. Again, each word of the script is perfectly chosen, and Mortensen digs deep here. He's not always my favorite actor...I actually wasn't nuts about him in A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE (A film I otherwise greatly admired)...but he's perfectly cast here. And of course, he's amazing to watch in the now infamous nude fight scene. It's a little bit distracting being aware of male full-frontal nudity flashing around...almost enough to take one out of the scene...but the scene is so well staged that the sheer PAIN of it soon wipes out any feeling of "hey, we get to see ALL of Viggo Mortensen."

Armin Mueller-Stahl plays the older patriarch of the Russian mafia family, and he's the best of this type of character I've seen in awhile. You know the one...the old gangster who is so sweet and loving to the youngsters in his family, so polite and full of grace and manners. Picture Brando in the wedding scenes of THE GODFATHER or even Paul Newman in early scenes of ROAD TO PERDITION. Stahl is even better...his eyes twinkle with charm. But boy, when the mask drops and we see the real guy...still soft-spoken and considered...he's stunningly evil. I really enjoyed seeing him seems like it's been awhile since he was in a film.

Vincent Cassel plays Stahl's hot-headed son...another gangster cliche...the kid who is supposed to take over the business, but is actually a bit of a moron and troublemaker. But again, the character has surprises up its sleeve. Also, Naomi Watts plays the nurse who brings a motherless baby unwittingly into this underworld...and she is reliably good. Her character doesn't get to have all the dramatic flourishes...but Watts gives another patented, fully committed, honest performance. I believe she may be our most under-rated actress, even though she has been nominated for awards and starred in many films...I think she's still undervalued. EASTERN PROMISES won't win her new fans or an Oscar...but she is still very good.

Notice I didn't talk much about the plot. Others have done it better, and to be honest, I'd love it if you just went to see the film having little idea of what you were about to experience. It's a brutal journey...but it is full of unexpected turns...not just of plot but of character. I'll bet come year end, this will still be one of my favorites of the year! Highly, highly recommended for ADULT audiences!!"
'Eastern Promises' Delivers!
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"EASTERN PROMISES as written by Steven Knight and directed by David Cronenberg is one of the grittiest, insightful, and well-acted films of the year. Maintaining his keen eye for the dark side of life and the people who dwell in its shadows, Cronenberg has once again brought us characters so strongly etched on film that they will be remembered for many years.

The setting is London where lives the enigmatic Russian-born Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen in an Oscar caliber performance) who serves as a driver for a cloaked mysterious Russian family, members of the Russian mafia called the Vory V Zakone, a bizarre brotherhood populated with men whose lives of crime are told in tattooed stories on their bodies. The head of the family is the elegant restaurateur Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl) whose son Kirill (Vincent Cassel) carries on the crime aspects of the family but shows no role of leadership in his dissipated life style. As the film opens we observe the birth of a little girl to a drug-addled mother Tatiana (Sarah-Jeanne Labrosse): she dies during childbirth having been delivered by a midwife Anna (Naomi Watts) who herself has a history of a stillborn child. Anna finds a diary in Tatiana's purse, saves it, and takes it to her uncle to translate it form the Russian. Opening the diary opens dark secrets for Semyon and Kirill: Tatiana was apparently one of the many illegal Russian prostitutes imported by the Vory V Zakone crime syndication and was raped by Semyon whose daughter was born as Tatiana died. Anna's investigation as to the baby's heritage includes the invaluable help of Nikolai who despite his past has a soft spot for Anna and her plight and it is the manner in which the interplay of Anna, Semyon, Kirill and Nikolai works out that brings the film to its conclusion.

The acting is impeccable with Mortensen, Watts, Cassell, and Mueller-Stahl at peak form. Cameo roles by Sinéad Cusack and Jerzy Skolimowski, among others, are fully fleshed. The accents are believable and the multiple tattoos on Mortensen's body (seen fully in the much ballyhooed bathhouse scene, more about killing than about voyeurism) match the dark, dank atmosphere well captured by the cinematographer Peter Suschitzky and echoed with the musical score by Howard Shore. This is a tough movie for the squeamish to watch, but the story is superb and the film is Cronenberg at his best. Grady Harp, December 07
Strong film--character study features contrast between compa
R. Kyle | USA | 09/26/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Just five days short of Christmas, a girl child is born. As she takes her first breath, midwife Anne (Watts) is calling the time of death of her teenage mother, Tatiana, who bears injection bruises on her slender arms.

Perhaps it's the recent loss of her own child from a former lover, the time of year, or just her character in general, but Anne is deeply touched by the situation and vows to find the baby, who she's named Christina, a family and a decent life instead of institutionalized foster care. So she steps over the line and takes the mother's personal effects--a diary which is written in Russian.

Despite being warned not to dig any deeper by her Uncle Stepan, a recent Russian emigre and former KGB agent (Skolimowski) and her English mother (Sinead Cusack), she goes to the one place where she has a clue in English--a Russian restaurant called the Trans Siberian.

There she meets three men: Semyon (Mueller-Stahl), an older Russian who appears at first as a strong but benevolent father figure whose Borscht is almost identical to what Anne's own father used to make. Kirill (Cassel) a drunken and somewhat overdramatic heir to the throne and Nikolai (Mortenson) the very dispassionate driver for Kirill, who he's sworn a brotherly allegiance to.

At first, Semyon denies knowing anything about the mother of the deceased young woman, but his interest piques when Anne tells him there's a diary. He offers to translate the diary and find the child's family for her. Anne at first demurs, suspecting Semyon is Vory v Zakone (Russian mob) but he's very persuasive and she agrees to return the next night.

Meanwhile, Kirill, the family enforcer and Semyon's only son, has declared war on a rival Chechin gang by killing one of the members who has disparaged his character. The man is dispatched and disposed of with machinelike precision that's almost more frightening than any violence the film depicts.

Anne's and Kirill's actions set into play a chain of events where we witness violence and betrayal at every turn. Throughout the current action, Tatiana's voice (Sarah Labrosse) quietly relates the contents her diary to us, detailing first hope, then rape and prostitution while being forced to take drugs every day.

Director David Cronenberg definitely upped the ante as far as violence and that violence is depicted with a clarity and realism that few films today can match.

While many focus on the violence, what's most interesting about this film is the character study. Mueller-Stahl's depiction of Semyon is the best 'Godfather' I have seen to date and is in my opinion well worth a supporting actor Oscar. His switch from a loving family man to someone who'd betray a member for another will keep you riveted in your seat.

Both Anne and Nikolai cross the line in different ways and seeing how the two individually act and interact with each other is one of the best parts of the film. Anne doesn't hold back what she feels while Nikolai plays his cards very close to the vest, but can surprise you too.

Viggo Mortenson, who I will always reign as Aragorn in my mind, was also amazing. According to the press on "Promises", he spent weeks in Russia traveling without a translator so he could perfect his Russian and his knowledge of the culture that made Nikolai. The man will always have 'stars' as far as I am concerned.