The Legend of Tomiris (2019)

Posted in Reviews by - September 25, 2020
The Legend of Tomiris (2019)

Straight and sober historical war epic detailing the Tomiris story; the Scythian queen of Central Asia’s Massagetae tribe credited for uniting the nomadic clans of the ‘steppe’ – vast, empty grasslands – and leading them into battle against the might of Cyrus the Great and his Persian army in 530 BC. There are conflicting accounts as to circumstances surrounding the death of the first Persian King and the validity of the Tomiris legend. It was originally documented some 100 years after the event by Ancient Greek historian, Herodotus. This film version ditches Ancient Greece in favour of the Syrian capital of Damascus in 941 AD, nearly 1,500 years later, and uses Islamic philosopher Abu Nasr Al-Farabi as its narrator, supposedly reading from his own account. That may seem incongruous as a plot device, but it does act to lend the story a scholarly and domestic significance. The story of Tomiris is clearly ripe for a spot of postmodern dramatisation, especially during a golden age for female-fronted warrior stories; she’s essentially Boudica and Wonder Woman rolled into one, a trained fighter driven by revenge who is more than equal to her male counterparts. She is played with solemn authority by newcomer Almira Tursyn, a psychiatrist making her acting debut in what would become one of Kazakhstan’s highest-grossing films of all time. It will be a tough role to beat. The sweeping plains of the Kazakh Steppe are captured majestically enough, if repetitively, and there are scant surprises to be found in the narrative – other than a recurring dream sequence in which Tomiris battles with a weird flying lion on fire, created using dodgy CGI. That’s about as experimental as the film gets. Combat fans may get a kick out of the clashing swords and charging horses during the feisty battle scenes, neatly created by stunt coordinator, martial artist and horse expert, Zhaidarbek Kunguzhinov. Full marks for authenticity, but there’s nothing too much out of the ordinary.

AKA: Tomiris.

The Legend of Tomiris is released on Blu-ray and DVD on 29 September 2020 courtesy of Well Go USA.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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