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November 2010

Black Lightning

cast: Grigory Dobrygin, Ekaterina Vilkova, Viktor Verzhbitskiy, and Ivan Zhidkov

directors: Dmitriy Kiselev and Aleksandr Voytinskiy

90 minutes (PG) 2009
widescreen ratio 16:9
Universal DVD Region 2

RATING: 6/10
review by Ian Sales

Black Lightning

You know the flying Ford Anglia in the Harry Potter films? The Russians have made an entire film about it. Well, not a Ford Anglia, but an old Russian make of car called a Volga.

Dima (Grigory Dobrygin) is a university student from a working class background. His friend Maxim (Ivan Zhidkov) is rich and drives a Mercedes. When Dima spots Nastya (Ekaterina Vilkova), and wants to ask her out, he's beaten to the punch by Maxim and his Merc. Dima's parents are so proud of their son; they've bought him a car - a beat-up black 1951 Volga. It can't compete with Max's Merc, but it can help Dima earn enough money to catch Nastya's eye. He takes a job delivering flowers throughout Moscow. What Dima doesn't know is that his car was part of an old experiment into powerful energy sources.

Meanwhile, plutocrat Kuptsov (Viktor Verzhbitskiy) plans to drill for diamonds beneath Moscow but has come a cropper because he does not have an energy source powerful to drive his drills the last remaining yards. He gets wind of the old experiment and learns that the sole remaining samples of 'super fuel' are hidden in a black 1951 Volga.

While escaping from some of Kuptsov's goons, Dima inadvertently discovers the secret of the Volga. It can fly. Initially, he uses the car's secret ability to deliver flowers faster and so earn more money. But when his father is murdered by a mugger, Dima starts using his car for good - rescuing children from a fire, catching law-breakers, etc. But Kuptsov is on his trail, and sooner or later, the two are going to have to battle it out for the flying car. Which they do... Oh, and Dima gets the girl, too.

Black Lightning (aka: Chernaya Molniya) is a by-the-numbers superhero movie, and it's the equal of anything Hollywood has made. As the film progresses, the story points are ticked off one by one in an entirely expected way, yet there's still something fresh and entertaining about the film. Perhaps it's the location; perhaps it's the Russian take on a traditionally American type of story.

The special effects are mostly good, the cast play their parts well - although, as is traditional, villain Kuptsov chews the scenery somewhat - and everyone gets their just desserts. On the face of it, little in the film is plausible: diamonds under Moscow? A secret super-fuel from the Soviet era..? A flying car..? Nonetheless, if you tell your disbelief to take a holiday and just follow the map of the story, you'll have 90 minutes of pacy entertainment.



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