Mongol / Монгол

Published: October 7, 2016

Mongol (Монгол; known as Mongol: The Rise of Genghis Khan in its English release) is a 2007 film about Genghis Khan, the Mongol warrior who conquered Russia (among many other places) in the thirteenth century. The stars are well-known actors from Japan, China, and Mongolia. Tadanobu Asano, who plays Khan, is well-known in his native Japan; among Americans, he is also known for his role as Hogan in the Thor movies. Mongol was filmed in China (the Inner Mongolia region) and Kazakhstan.

The film is, of course, about the rise of Genghis Khan, originally named Temujin, and his early years. It goes through his childhood, the death of his father, his marriage to his beloved Borte, and his capture and enslavement, and then finally his coronation as Genghis Khan, the ruler of all the Mongols. A sequel has supposedly been in the works since 2013, but it is unclear whether it is actually forthcoming.

The film got very good reviews—including among American reviewers, as it was widely circulated in the US as well as Russia—and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 2008 Oscars, as the entry from Kazakhstan (Russia had its own entry, 12, which did not win, either). It won two Golden Eagles, for Best Costumes and Best Sound Direction, and was nominated for Best Film and Best Director (Sergey Bodrov, Сергей Бодров—incidentally, the father of Sergei Bodrov Jr., star of the Brother films). Two of the foremost American film critics, Roger Ebert and A. O. Scott, gave the film high marks for its extremely impressive visuals and epic-like sweep, though the plot left a lot to be desired, with much of the film consisting of battle scenes. The film was also very controversial in Mongolia—for one thing, there were protests in the country that prevented it from being filmed there, and many in the country were extremely concerned that the film would badly skew the character and image of Khan. They may not have been wrong.

Find Mongol on Amazon


Director: Sergey Bodrov
Stars: Tadanobu Asano, Sun Honglei, Chuluuny Khulan, Amadu Mamadakov, Ba Sen
Production companies: Kinokompaniya Andreevskiy Flag, Kinofabrika, Kinokompaniya STV, X-Filme Creative Pool
Box office take: $6.5 million in Russia; $26 million worldwide

Official trailer:


Find Mongol on Amazon

About the author

Julie Hersh

Julie studied Russian as a Second Language in Irkutsk and before that, Bishkek, with SRAS's Home and Abroad Scholarship program, with the goal of someday having some sort of Russia/Eurasia-related career. She recently got her master’s degree from the University of Glasgow and the University of Tartu, where she studied women’s dissent in Soviet Russia. She also has a bachelor’s degree in literature from Yale. Some of her favorite Russian authors are Sorokin, Shishkin, Il’f and Petrov, and Akhmatova. In her spare time Julie cautiously practices martial arts, reads feminist websites, and taste-tests instant coffee for her blog.

Program attended: Home and Abroad Scholar

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