In 2017, Big Cinema House – a Russian movie studio – released what may be the most ambitious Russian action movie ever made. It appears to be an attempt to match Marvel at their own game but, by all accounts, doesn’t even come close.
In fact, the movie cost $5 million to make but only made $4.7 million, bankrupting the studio. The movie did so poorly, the Russian government asked for their investment back.
The movie is titled Zaschitniki which translates in English to Guardians.
The premise of the movie (possible spoilers ahead) is that the Russian government experimented with creating people with superhuman powers during the Cold War. These powerful people went into hiding after the breakup of the Soviet Union.
A threat to Russia and the former Soviet Union countries brings four of the superheroes together in a bid to save Russia, and possibly the world.
The four heroes come from different areas of the former USSR, including Kazakhstan, Siberia, Moscow and Armenia.
One of the team members can control earth and rock, another can turn invisible, another can teleport and use martial arts.
The fourth member of the group is getting a great deal of attention as he seems to be a hero that could only be created in Russia. It is a man who can turn into a muscular bear with a high-tech mini gun.
They band together to fight a cyborg who can control technology and uses clones and a robot army to attack Russia in order to begin his plan of world domination.
This all leads to a massive battle in Moscow and the guardians coming together to unleash a power they didn’t know they had in order to save the day.
Critics of the movie complain about several continuity errors, some rushed CGI that looks bad, and poor dialogue. Fans of the film praise the action scenes and the over-the-top spectacle of the movie.
Both critics and fans note the similarity to Marvel movies. Each hero seems to have a counterpart in Marvel that was used as a template, but adjusted just enough to avoid any international copyright issues.
All in all, it sounds like the type of movie to watch if you can suspend disbelief and just enjoy the movie on its own terms – flawed but fun.
The film received a US release on home video. The distribution rights to the film are owned by a Chinese company who were rumored to be working on a sequel with Chinese actors.
Rotten Tomatoes found that 30% of movie critics gave the film a positive review. The movie is available in the US for streaming on Amazon Prime Video and on Apple TV or on DVD.
One recommendation from the critics is to enjoy the film in the original Russian with English subtitles.
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Although the subtitles are apparently as flawed as the rest of the film, they are apparently preferable to the included English dub.