Brother 2

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For other uses, see Brat (disambiguation).
Brother 2
Брат 2
Brother2.jpg
U.S. theatrical release poster
Directed by Aleksei Balabanov
Produced by Sergei Selyanov
Written by Aleksei Balabanov
Starring Sergei Bodrov, Jr.
Viktor Sukhorukov
Distributed by CTB Film Company
Release dates
2000
Running time
122 min.
Country Russian Federation
United States
Language Russian, English, Ukrainian
Budget US$1,500,000
Box office $1,080,000

Brother 2 (Russian: Брат 2, translit. Brat 2) a 2000 Russian film, and, in name, a sequel to 1997's Russian crime thriller Brother. The 'Russian-made gangster flick'[1] was set about a year after the events that occurred in the first film.

Plot[edit]

Two years have passed since the events of the first film. The film opens with Danila Bagrov (Sergey Bodrov) appearing on a television show with his two friends from the army. It is immediately known, that unlike the prequel's subplot, where Danila was an HQ clerk, he was is in fact a combat veteran from the First Chechen war (which immediately explains his non-amateur performance and skill in the first film). All three comrades now live in Moscow, where Ilya (Kirill Pirogov) is a professional programmer who works for the State Historical Museum on Red Square whilst Konstantin (Kostya) Gromov (Alexander Dyachenko) works in the security department for the Nikolayevsky Bank. Danila himself reveals his ambition to enrol in medicine at the university.

After the program, the friends retire to an exclusive public bathhouse (the Sanduny) where Kostya reveals to his friends that his twin brother Dmitry is an ice hockey player for the Chicago Blackhawks and is being extorted by an American 'entrepreneur' Richard Mennis . According to Konstantin, his brother once played for his home club, the Kyiv Falcons before he was invited to play in the NHL and immigrated to the United States to play for the Chicago Black Hawks. Later he was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins and from that moment he started to have trouble and difficulties with the Ukrainian mafia, who have been threatening and pressuring him. Dmitry (also portrayed by Alexander Dyachenko) was desperate and addressed the local Chicago kingpin businessman Mennis (Gary Houston) for help and protection. Mennis took Dmitry under contract and granted him protection, but left Dmitry as an indentured servant, as all the proceeds are pocketed by Mennis. At the end Konstantin says that Mennis has come to Moscow meeting his employer, the owner of Nikolayevsky bank Valentin Belkin (Sergey Makovetsky) to discuss a business proposal.

Almost simultaneously in a different part of Russia, that same television program was watched by Danila's brother Viktor Bagrov (Viktor Sukhorukov) and their mother. Seeing how her older son has turned into a drinking militsiya sergeant, whilst here younger one is now on TV, she pleads him to travel to Moscow and seek his brother there, as his life back home brought little happiness to her. The irony of the scene is that in the first film it was exactly the opposite, where Viktor was the role model. After the bathhousem, Danila meets up and begins an affair with a Russian pop singer Irina Saltykova (plays herself), who he met at the TV station and crashes at her apartment in the elite Kotelnicheskaya Embankment building.

The next morning Kostya approaches Belkin and pleads to remind Mennis about his brother. Belkin agrees, however Dmitry Gromov is of little concern to both as Belkin, being a Russian kingpin with money laundering partners, wishes to legalise their assets by investing in American companies, and needs Mennis's help to bypass standing law which prohibits foreign capital. The importance of the new friendship with Mennis prompts Belkin to remove Kostya altogether. That evening Danila stops at Kostya's apartment to discover his friend shot and sets out to avenge his friend. Knowing about his employer's lucrative deals, and Konstantin's desire to help his brother, there is little doubt who was behind the murder.

After himself being briefly arrested and beating up some thugs in jail, Danila pairs up with Ilya to begin their revenge. First he clears out his apartment, where it turns out that only a small stash of money, that he carried from the first film remain. A visit to the black market results in a CD with personal information about Belkin. A visit to a local neo-nazi friend of Ilya's get's them armed with trophy guns and grenades from the Great Patriotic War. Based in the museum at the Red Square, they almost miss his brother, Viktor, who arrived in Moscow earlier that day. With his help, Ilya manages to quickly steal a car for the job.

That day, a concert is held in an elite gimnasium, where Belkin's son Fedya is studying. Danila fools the security as latecomers, whilst Viktor distracts the other drivers/guards outside, making the impression that his "boss" i.e. Danilla is a very active member of the Russian underworld. Inside Danila arrives just to see Fedya being summoned to the stage where he reads a very patriotic poem, which deeply moves Danila. Intercepting him off-stage, he thanks him for the poem and introduces himself as his new teacher. With his cover in force, he approaches Belkin and invites him to the staffroom for a private conversation about the school's sponsor. One-on-one, at gunpoint he confronts him, and inquires about Kostya's murder. Belking reveals that it was not his doing, but under the pressure of Mennis, he talks of his illegal operations including smuggling of pornography and extortion. Afterwards he pleads for mercy, which Danilla grants, saying "it would be a shame to leave such a kid with no father".

After the run, the trio clear the museum, whilst Danilla gives Ilya his remaining money to purchase passports and tickets to Chicago. Upon Viktor's insistence they also take a Russian M1910 Maxim exponent. Belkin refuses to let Danila off, although it is revealed that Kostya's murder was unintentional, as he only wanted him sacked, however his stunt in the school now threatens his whole operation with Mennis. Belkin's thugs, reviewing the TV recording, first raid the museum, but arrive too late, issue orders to his contacts in the police to intercept the car, but Ilya's documents do not rouse any suspicion, when stopped by the traffic patrol. Danilla however decides to pass time with Saltykova, inadvertently bringing Viktor with him. Whilst Viktor tells Irina about this opinion on Russian pop music, Belkin's thugs find the stolen Volvo in a parking lot in front of the Kotelnicheskaya building. Saltykova's chauffeur Boris calls Danila and warns him, and the Bagrov brothers first ambush the mobsters and then lead them on a daring chase through central Moscow, into a closed ally, where Viktor makes a quick work of the cars with his Maxim gun. News of Bagrov's success enrages not only Belkin, but also his "partners" who begin having doubts in the security of their operation. Powerless, Belkin is forced to alert the Ukrainian mafia in Chicago, in case his thugs fail to intercept him in Moscow.

To avoid capture, the brothers fly to America separately, and Viktor passes by Belkin's thugs without any suspicion in Moscow, and the Ukrainian thugs in Chicago. Danila instead lands in New York City where he travels to the Russian Jewish Brighton Beach community. There he buys a cheap beat-up car to travel to Chicago by road, but it breaks down just outside Pennsylvania. Stranded he is saved when a trucker Ben Johnson (Ray Toler) picks him up. Despite Danila's limited English, the two become close friends and on his way to Chicago, Ben shows Danila much about American life. Upon their arrival in Chicago, Ben offers Danila to pick up a prostitute, however the bald Marylin, turns out to be a Russian Dasha (Darya Urgens Lesnikova). Though not interested in sex, he gives her some money, but the charity is quickly snatched up by her Black American pimp.

Back in Moscow, Belkin is still determined to catch Danila, however a background check revealed the bald man accompanying him (i.e. Viktor) is a professional assassin Tatarin and that he was on board the flight to Chicago. Paranoid, Belkin warns Manis and re-alerts the Ukrainian mafia in Chicago to find him. Simultaneously he dismisses his thug's suggestion to raid Saltykova, due to her fame, but instead commissions them to wire her phone. Foreseeing this, upon departure Danila created an alibi that he was travelling out of town for a few days and keeps deceiving Irina, and thus Belkin throughout the film.

Viktor meanwhile arrives in the Ukrainian diaspora district in Chicago quickly begins to spend his money wisely (and gaining more by beating up a police officer), enjoying the American lifestyle, making tours of the city dressed as Al Capone. Danila sticks to the mission, and first attempts to meet up with Dmitry Gromov, but is unable to catch him. Nor are his attempts to rendezvous with Viktor successful as Viktor is too much enjoying his life. Badly needing a translator he decides to find Dasha and travels to the Black neighbourhood. Just before he can run away with her, he is savagely beaten by Dasha's pimp's henchmen. The Police let him go on the basis of recognizance and he gets revenge by tricking the same group who beat him up into selling him weapons, which he steals by subterfuge. Afterwards Dasha's pimp attempts to get even with her but is in turn killed by Danila, leaving Dasha no choice but to go with him.

Finally Viktor and Danila meet up and the three enjoy an evening camp fire on the beach of Lake Michigan where they share their experiences and attitude towards American society. Dasha tells her story of how she came in the early 1990s as an exchange student, worked in escort service in New York before finally degrading into a street hooker. Viktor on the other hand is much too impressed with the power of money that drives America. Danila instead shows his patriotism, first offers Dasha to come back home with them, replying to her "what will I do there?" with the "What have you achieved here?" inferring to her social status. As for Viktor, Danila reminds him there are things that money can't buy. The philosophical discussion is broken by a homeless black man, who stumbles across them and is insulted when Danila called him a negr (not knowing that the word is an insult English). While waiting for fight to come, Dasha replies that she believes that the primal nature of black people drive fear into the white, which makes them ultimately stronger. However Danila's warning shot into the sand quickly forces the attackers to run.

Afterwards, Danila begins to finally move in against Mennis, and first hits his front the Club Metro. Expecting Mennis to be there he sneaks a weapon into the toilet, and then during a Rock concert evening involving Bi-2 band he kills every member of Mennis's mafia he encounters in the basement. Mennis turns out to be absent. Viktor seeing he picked up the tail of the Ukrainian mafia decides to draw them away and kills their hitman but not before learning of the mafia's operations. The next morning Danila climbs 50 or so floors on a skyscraper's fire escape to reach Mennis's office. There he catches him in a game of chess, and killing his colleague, finally confronts him alone. As if continuing the debate on lakeside, in his monologue (in Russian) he asks the American if power really comes from money. Arguing that his brother (whose photo is lying next to the chess table) believes this theory, Danila instead thinks that power lies in the Truth. He (implying Mennis), being rich is not strong, as he took his money from someone else. Thus the tricked person is right, so he is stronger. In conclusion he demands that Mennis hand over all the money he took from Dmitry.

Giving Dmitry his money, Danila sets off back home to Moscow, but unintentionally drives via the Ukrainian neighbourhood where he witnesses a police siege around the former headquarters of the Ukrainian mafia, where Viktor killed everyone inside. As he is dragged out handcuffed, Viktor shouts his intentions to stay in America. The film ends with Danila and Dasha taking off to Moscow. The final call to Irina, is not intercepted, as presumably, Belkin is also removed by his "investors", who in an earlier scene, face to face told him, that the sum of money he set up in this operation is too much to be risked.

Impact of the film[edit]

Similarly to the first film, Brother 2 was a success upon release. The film picked up on the changing attitudes of the Russian public in the late 1990s. It also shows the erosion of a common naive stereotype of the 'perfect' West, and in particular, America which is shown as not so perfect. The film depicts the immense divide between the black and white communities with the former ghettoised. Also it shows that, like in Russia, the high profile businessmen can have very criminal activities, too. One of the most powerful messages was the final confrontation when Danila asks Mennis if money really gives one strength and power, and instead argues that strength and power can only be found in the truth.

At the same time, the film highlights positive elements about the United States, but from a different perspective in the American people who like in Russia come in all colours and social statuses, like the Black television presenter Lisa Jeffrey who has a short affair with Danila and the trucker Ben who at the very end of the film, accepts an audio cassette with Russian music which the two listened whilst driving. Finally on humorous note, the film carried across the message that hardships and people's discomfort with life exists everywhere as shown by the two complaining taxi drivers both in Moscow and in New York.

Balabanov's epic picture mirrored the Russian's awakening and growing sense of patriotism. Danila's character is once again shown as a mirror . On the surface he is somewhat innocent, simple and thus himself (enough to land him in bed with a Russian celebrity and an American News reporter), underneath however is a solid righteous person, who is not afraid of putting two prison cellmates in their place, tacking on a Russian kingpin banker and evading his security, shaking up Chicago's Black neighbourhood to 'rescue' a fellow Russian, despite being initially beaten, and ultimately bringing down a whole American crime organisation. All to avenge his friend and help his brother. Despite this, he shows compassion to his adversaries, like sparing Belkin because of his son. The theme, that family members can be very different is very much exploited in Viktor's character, who despite aiding them in Moscow, somewhat let's him down in Chicago. Dasha's character very much reflects the failing of many post-Soviet Russian Immigrants, whose 'American Dream' turned into a nightmare, again showing the Russian audience that emigration can, quite literally, lead a person to walk the streets. Both Irina and Ilya illustrate that opportunities in Russia exist as well, and success comes to those that strive for it. Belkin, unlike Krugly in the first film, is not wholly depicted as evil, but instead shows how money can corrupt a person into evil, apparently Konstantin's murder was unintended, and moreover he got his job in the bank because of Belkin's past friendship with Kostya's father. This again reflects the Russian reality how many people who rose in the 1990s had to turn on their friends and family. The poem that his son read, Danila would recite throughout the film. Finally Mennis is shown for what he is, being an influential businessman, up front he is a nothing but a coward.

The film was criticised for being too Russo-centric and in extreme cases the elements of racism and nationalism. For example the semi-criminal portrayal of the African American community, the deceiving Russian-American Jew (who sells him a bad car) and the Ukrainian mafia. The latter in particular often refers to the toilet scene when Viktor finishes off in cold blood remarking: "You bitches will answer to me for Sevastopol!" referring to the sensitive topic on the ownership of that city. Ukrainians are also called banderovets by Viktor (e.g. when he arrives at the airport), what does not appear in English subtitles. Albeit, the listed scenes have clear humorous overtones. Incidentally in 2015 the film was officially banned in Ukraine following the government expertise for "containing scenes that humiliate Ukrainians as a nation".[2]

In October 2009, the film received mention in a discussion of how the city of Chicago is perceived internationally.

Literature[edit]

  • Florian Weinhold (2013), Path of Blood: The Post-Soviet Gangster, His Mistress and Their Others in Aleksei Balabanov's Genre Films, Reaverlands Books: North Charleston, SC: pp. 66–90.

Cast[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

The film's soundtrack consists of popular songs from modern Russian and Ukrainian rock artists, such as Splean, Bi-2, Zemfira, Smyslovye Gallyutsinatsii, Chicherina, Okean Elzy and Nautilus Pompilius. The pop-star Irina Saltykova being one of important characters, there are some her songs in the soundtrack. The latter is partly a reference to the soundtrack of the original "Brother", which consists entirely of Nautilus Pompilius' songs. The soundtrack includes "Lafayette" performed by American band Sleeping For Sunrise.

  1. "Бай-Бай" (Bye-Bye) — Irina Saltykova (O. Molchanov, A. Slavorosov)
  2. "Полковник" (Colonel) — Bi-2 (Shura Bi-2, Lyova Bi-2)
  3. "Счастье" (Happiness) — Bi-2 (Shura Bi-2, Lyova Bi-2)
  4. "Солнечный круг" (Sun Ring) — Irina Saltykova (O. Molchanov, A. Slavorosov)
  5. "Варвара" (Varvara) — Bi-2 (Shura Bi-2, Lyova Bi-2)
  6. "Огоньки" (Twinkles) — Irina Saltykova (P. Andreev)
  7. "Искала" (I Was Searching) — Zemfira (Zemfira Ramazanova)
  8. "Ту Лу Ла" (Tu La La) — Chicherina (Yulia Chicherina)
  9. "Гибралтар" (Gibraltar) — Vyacheslav Butusov (Vyacheslav Butusov, Dmitry Gunitsky)
  10. "Дорога" (The Road) — AuktsYon (Leonid Fyodorov, Dmitry Ozeretsky)
  11. "Кавачай" (Kavachay) — Okean Elzy (Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, Pavlo Hudimov)
  12. "Вечно молодой" (Forever Young) — Smyslovyie gallyutsinatsii (Sergey Bobunets, Oleg Genenfeld)
  13. "Коли тебе нема" (When You Are Out) — Okean Elzy (Svyatoslav Vakarchuk)
  14. "Розовые очки" (Pink Glasses) — Smyslovye gallyutsinatsii (Sergey Bobunets, Oleg Genenfeld)
  15. "Гни свою линию" (Be On Your Own Way) — Splin (Aleksandr Vasil'ev)
  16. "Секрет" (The Secret) — Agata Kristi (Gleb Samoylov)
  17. "Никогда" (Never) — Vadim Samoylov (Vadim Samoylov)
  18. "Город" (The City) — Tantsy minus (Vyacheslav Petkun)
  19. "Катманду" (Kathmandu) — Krematoriy (Armen Grigoryan)
  20. "Иду" (I Am Going) — Tantsy minus (Vyacheslav Petkun)
  21. "Земля" (Earth) — Masha i medvedi (Denis Petukhov, Maria Makarova)
  22. "Lafayette" — Sleeping for Sunrise (Blake J. Zweig, James Konczyk, Jay Ranz)
  23. "Погляд" (The Sight) — La-Mansh (Dmytro Tsyperdiuk)
  24. "Прощальное письмо" (Farewell Letter) — Nautilus Pompilius and Children's Choir led by M. I. Slavkin (Vyacheslav Butusov, Dmitry Umetsky)
  25. "Стюардесса Жанна" (Jeanne The Stewardess) — The Metropol Restaurant Orchestra (Vladimir Presnyakov Jr., Ilya Reznik, Aleksandr Starobinets)

Critical response[edit]

'When sequels start appearing, that's a healthy sign... Two major risks have left Brother. Natural environment has gone - the alleys of Saint Petersburg, the bazaar on the Sennaya Square - a spot-on depiction of the new times. Only the story was left - honest, straightforward and not new, just like our hero. «Immorality» that served as the main attraction in Brother, paradoxically combining the frankness of Komsomol with zombie-like killings, is also gone. What's left is spirituality: the Orthodox values, «The power is not in the money, but in the truth», violence - not because it's as easy as brushing teeth, but because there's injustice in the world - and thus one must fight... A strong movie, not boring to watch. Aleksei Balabanov makes films the only way possible: like we are living in a healthy country that produces 150 movies yearly. And while it's not true, and there's a clean field around him, and he is taken almost for a savior who carries his cross alone, we should react to this film adequately: calmly, without hysterics, just like a normal cinema requires.'[3]

'Our answer to James Bond and other "anti-Soviet Cinema",’ “Brother 2” was ‘ideological...playing ‘to the fears of its national audience...the first manifestation of Russia’s new snobbery towards the US,’ the Itogi weekly’s reviewer wrote. Its central character was ‘a) cute and b) clever...war creates a special kind of childish killers...The search for national identity...only leads to unwarranted xenophobia.'[4]

Trivia[edit]

  • Bodrov's line 'in English' had to be subtitled for English-speaking audiences.
  • The scene where Danila meets Dmitri Gromov at the hockey practice features several prominent Pittsburgh Penguins players. Jaromir Jagr is seen in one shot and Darius Kasparaitis has a small speaking role.

External links[edit]

References[edit]