Thursday, April 23, 2015

Turkish Gambit: A Review

Note: I wrote this some time ago and then forgot to publish. Pardon gentles all. 

I really liked this poster. It reminded me of Frank Franzetta's work. 

Following the lead of Brother Cordery over at Wargaming Miscellany, I ordered a copy of Turkish Gambit recently and watched it a few days ago.  I ordered my copy of Amazon's German operation and picked the DVD up for approximately €10.

Both Mrs. Kinch and I are fans of Boris Akunin.  He's a very talented Russian author who writes novels in a variety of genres, but most particularly mystery novels. His most successful series have been the Erast Fandorin novels set in the late 19th century and featuring the exploits of Russian state official Erast Fandorin who wanders around world righting wrong and investigating mysteries.

A story I have heard is that the novels were written in response to a bet that the author could not write a series of crime novels in each of the genres sub genre's. Thus, there is a Murder on the Orient Express novel, a Red Dragon type novel, etc.  Turkish Gambit is Akunin's take on the Ian Fleming/Alistair Maclean heroic spy book.

The film is a relatively faithful adaption of the book, which is set during the Russo-Turkish of 1877. The Russian army is besieging Plevna when Fandorin learns that a secretive Turkish agent is sabotaging their efforts.  He then tries to track down the enemy agent.

The film differs from the book in several respects, but the main points of the plot were there. The screenplay was adapted by the author and in terms of style and heft you probably won't notice them unless you know the book well. The cast put in a series of very presentable performances, though I think special mention should be made of Olga Kraska, who plays the female lead.  I found her character insufferably irritating in the book, but Ms. Kraska managed to capture the irritation while still being a pleasure to watch and a fine comic actress to boot.

The production values were excellent and the director of photography certainly earned his money, though I would take note of the use of CGI. The use of CGI throughout is clever, immersive and imaginative - very well done.  I would be very surprised if Guy Ritchie had not seen Turkish Gambit as his CGI sequences in the Sherlock Holmes movies are reminiscent of this film.

Turkish Gambit is a slick, funny adventure film and I would recommend it. You can buy it here


  1. Conrad Kinch,

    I am really pleased to read that you enjoyed this film adaptation of the novel. I thought that the battle scenes were particularly well done.

    All the best,


  2. I enjoy the books, but had no idea there had been a film made! Thanks for the pointer.

    1. It's worth having a look at certainly.

      An unscrupulous man might have a look on YouTube.

  3. nice review, saw something about this last year, I'll check it out!

  4. Never heard of it! Must see if I can get hold of thing! Just my kind of movie.

    1. As I was saying - an unscrupulous man might have a look on YouTube.

  5. I actually haven't seen this though I was aware a Russian film adaptation existed. Must get around to it someday. However I'm endlessly dismayed that The Turkish Gambit is the gateway to the Fandorin series for English speakers because it's actually a sequel to the first novel in the series, known as The Winter Queen, in translation (Azazel in the original Russian). It's the conspiracy novel and it sets up Fandorin's entire charterch and the origin of his particular habits, etc. In addition it also has some bearing on the plot climax of The Turkish Gambit. I don't think you can truly understand Fandorin's character without reading the first novel.

    You can however, enjoy the individual detective novels if you're not into delving into the personal motivations of actors and just want a fun read.