For centuries, the battling forces of light and darkness have kept an uneasy truce. The undercover members of the Night Watch have formed a supernatural police force, protecting the world against the Dark Ones - the vampires, witches, shape-shifters and sorcerers that wage war in the night. At the same time, the Dark Ones have a Day Watch that in turn polices the forces of light. The fate of humanity rests in this delicate balance between good and evil, but that fate is now in jeopardy. Ancient prophecy foretells that one day a Great One will arrive who can end the battle between light and dark forever. That time has arrived in Moscow - but which side will the great one choose?
1st movie broadly follows the book's plot. This one massively diverges with only a couple of plot threads (chalk, relationships) that are in common. Having loved the book, that is frustrating, but my wife who hasn't read it really enjoyed it. To be fair the book meanders around life philosophy, communism vs. capitalism, and would be expensive to film properly, although with a heavy slice of vampires, witches and magic layered on top of the cake. I thought the 1st movie was more inventive, but given budget limitations they've made a fun, exciting and unpredictable slice of russian Hollywood. And just seeing the shabby side of Moscow, and Russian skewed view of Hollywood style entertainment, is fun.
Night Watch is the first part of a trilogy and certainly feels like it. The history is adequately dealt with in the opening monologue, showing the roots of the struggle between dark and light. This fantasy come science fiction film has high pretensions and fails to build a convincing environment or struggle beyond those opening minutes. This film serves as an overly long introduction, revealing the main players without too much detail and their daily lives under the truce. Night Watch is what I would expect from modern day Russian cinema i.e. bold, brash, violent and one-dimensional. Made under the restraint of a limited budget, the team have done wonders here and obtained value for money. Night Watch is an average opening piece, with much to prove.