According to this account of the early life of Genghis Khan, he was less the brute of legend than a noble-souled warrior who observed Mongol law and became, what's more, a devoted husband.
Sergei Bodrov adopts an almost leisurely pace in unfolding the early years of Temudgin – as Genghis was first known – and his struggle against the usurper of his father's throne. An hour goes by before the first battle scene, but it proves worth the wait.
The Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano presents a man of reticent but virile magnetism, and suggests that even tyrants could have a tender side: the central figure in his journey to domination turns out to be his wife, Borte (Khulan Chuluun). The film, shot in remote parts of China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan, catches the vast wilderness of the one-time Mongol empire with awesome clarity.