Russian theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Aleksei Balabanov|
|Produced by||Sergei Selyanov|
|Written by||Aleksei Balabanov|
|Starring||Sergei Bodrov Jr.|
|Distributed by||STW Film Co.|
|Language||Russian, English, Ukrainian|
|Box office||$1 million|
The film opens with Danila Bagrov (Sergei Bodrov Jr.) appearing on a television show with his two friends from the army. It is immediately apparent, that unlike the prequel's subplot, where Danila was depicted as an HQ clerk, he 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 Setevoy (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 programme, the friends retire to an exclusive public bathhouse (the Sanduny) where Kostya reveals that his twin brother, Dmitry Gromov, is an ice hockey player for the Chicago Blackhawks and is being blackmailed by an American 'entrepreneur' Mennis. According to Konstantin, Dmitry once played for his home club, the Kyiv Falcons before he was invited by the NHL and emigrated to the United States to play for the Chicago Black Hawks. Later he was signed by the Pittsburgh Penguins and from that moment Ukrainian mafia, moved in on him, demanding protection money. Dmitry (also portrayed by Alexander Dyachenko) was desperate and appealed to a local Chicago kingpin businessman, Richard Mennis (Gary Houston) for help and protection. Mennis took Dmitry under contract and the Ukrainians left him alone immediately. However, the contract left Dmitry as an indentured servant to Mennis as all the proceeds are paid to the latter. Konstantin informs that by coincidence, Mennis has come to Moscow to meet his employer, the owner of the Nikolayevsky Bank, Valentin Belkin (Sergey Makovetsky) to discuss a business proposal.
In a different part of Russia, that same television programme was watched by Danila's brother Viktor Bagrov (Viktor Sukhorukov) and their mother. Seeing how her older son has turned into a drinking police sergeant, whilst her younger is now on TV, she pleads that Viktor travels to Moscow and seek his brother there, as life back home was bringing her little happiness. The irony of the scene is that in the first film it was exactly the opposite, where Viktor was the role model. After the bathhouse, Danila meets up and begins an affair with a Russian pop singer Irina Saltykova (playing herself), who he met at the TV station and comes to her apartment in the elite Kotelnicheskaya Embankment building.
The next morning Kostya approaches Belkin and pleads to remind Mennis about his brother. Belkin agrees, but Dmitry Gromov is of little concern to both of them, as Belkin, being a Russian kingpin himself with money laundering partners, wishes to legalise their assets by investing in American companies, and requires Mennis' help to bypass standing law which prohibits foreign capital. The importance of the new venture with Mennis makes Belkin see Kostya as a threat. That evening Danila stops at Kostya's apartment to discover his friend shot dead. Knowing about his employer's lucrative deals, and Konstantin's story about his brother, there is little doubt who was behind the murder.
After himself being briefly arrested and beating up some thugs in jail, Danila and Ilya begin their revenge. First, he clears out his apartment, where only a small stash of money, that he carried from the first film remains. A visit to the black market results in a purchased CD with personal information about Belkin. A visit to a neo-nazi friend of Ilya's gets them armed with trophy guns and grenades from the Great Patriotic War. Based at Ilya's workplace, the Historic 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 gymnasium, where Belkin's son Fedya is studying. Danila fools the security as latecomers, whilst Viktor distracts the drivers/guards outside, making the impression that his "boss" i.e. Danila is a very active member of the Russian underworld. Danila arrives 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. Belkin reveals that it was not his doing, but under the pressure of Mennis, and reveals much about the American's illegal operations including smuggling of pornography and extortion. Afterwards, he pleads for mercy, which Danila grants, saying "it would be a shame to leave such a kid with no father".
After the run, the trio clear the museum, Danila gives Ilya his remaining money to procure passports and tickets to Chicago. Upon Viktor's insistence, they also take a Russian M1910 Maxim exponent. Belkin refuses to let Danila off and although it is revealed that Kostya's murder was unintentional, as he only wanted him sacked, the 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. They issue orders to their contacts in the police to intercept the car, Ilya's documents and fake licence plates do not arouse any suspicion from the traffic patrol inspector. To kill the night before the flight, Danila decides to pass time with Saltykova and inadvertently brings Viktor with him. Whilst Viktor shares with Irina his opinion on Russian pop music, namely Filip Kirkorov, Belkin's thugs discover the stolen Volvo in Kotelnicheskaya's parking lot. Saltykova's chauffeur Boris warns Danila, and the Bagrov brothers first ambush the mobsters and then lead them on a daring chase through central Moscow, into a closed alley. There, in what is a humorous and reminiscent of the Russian Civil War era films, Viktor makes quick work of the pursuing cars with the Maxim gun. News of Bagrov's success enrages not only Belkin but also his "partners" who begin doubting the security of their operation. Learning of the bought tickets under Bagrov's name, Belkin is forced to alert the Ukrainian mafia in Chicago, in case his henchmen 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 takes a later flight to New York City where he arrive in 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). 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. The bald Marylin turns out to be a Russian named Dasha (Darya Urgens Lesnikova). Though not interested in sex, he gives her money, but the charity is quickly snatched up by her Black American pimp.
Back in Moscow, Belkin is still determined to catch Danila, but 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 Mennis 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 orders them to wire her phone. Foreseeing this, 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 with his phone calls.
Meanwhile, Viktor arrives to the Ukrainian diaspora district in Chicago and quickly begins to spend his money (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. First he attempts to meet up with Dmitry Gromov, but is unable to pair with him, due to his hockey practice and his American girlfriend. Nor are his attempts to rendezvous with Viktor successful who is too much enjoying his life. Badly needing a translator he decides to find Dasha and travels to the Black neighbourhood where she "worked". 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 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.
Danila and Dasha finally meet up with Viktor and the three enjoy an evening campfire 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 and 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. This 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 in English). While waiting for a fight to come, Dasha replies that she believes that the aggressive primal nature of black people drives fear into white people, thus making them ultimately superior. This theory fails its test, when Danila's warning shots into the sand quickly forces the attackers to flee.
Regardless, Danila finally begins to move in against Mennis and first hits his front, the Club Metro. Expecting Mennis to be ther.e he sneaks a weapon into the toilet, and during a Rock concert that evening, involving the Bi-2 band, he kills every member of Mennis' mafia he encounters in the basement. Mennis, alas, is absent. Viktor, himself picked up a tail by the Ukrainian mafia, draws them away and kills their hitman, but not before learning of the mafia's operations and headquarters. The next morning Danila climbs 50 or so floors on a skyscraper's fire escape to reach Mennis' office. He finds him in a game of chess. Killing his colleague, he finally confronts him alone. As if continuing the debate on the 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), can be rich, but not strong, as his money he stole from someone else. Thus the tricked person is right, so he is stronger. Almost weeping in fear, Mennis agrees. In conclusion, he demands all of the money he took from Dmitry to be returned.
Giving Dmitry his money, Danila sets off back home to Moscow driving through the Ukrainian neighbourhood 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, and 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. At the airport, Dasha is told that she will never be able to enter the United States again due to the expiry of her visa, but she does not care, signalling an intention she will never come back.
Impact of the film
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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, 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. Examples are 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, only accepts an audio cassette with Russian music which the two listened to whilst driving across the very picturesque landscape. Finally, on a humorous note, the film carried across the message that hardships and people's discomfort with life exist everywhere as shown by the two complaining taxi drivers both in Moscow and in New York.
Balabanov's epic picture mirrored the Russian awakening and growing sense of patriotism. Danila's character is once again the macroscopic personification of this trend. On the surface he is somewhat innocent, simple, laid back and confident (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, taking 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, with little material gain for himself. 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 lets him down in Chicago. Dasha's character very much reflects the failure of many post-Soviet Russian Immigrants, whose 'American Dream' turned into a nightmare, again showing the Russian audience that emigration can, quite literally, force a talented person to literally 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 becoming evil. The subplot that Konstantin's murder was unintended, and moreover, he got his job in the bank because of Belkin's past friendship with Kostya's father drives that message. 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 in the school, 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 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. In 2015 the film was officially banned in Ukraine for "containing scenes that humiliate Ukrainians as a nation".
In October 2009, the film received mention in a Salon article.
- 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.
|Sergei Bodrov, Jr.||as Danila Bagrov|
|Viktor Sukhorukov||as Viktor Bagrov|
|Kirill Pirogov||as Ilya Setevoy|
|Alexander Dyachenko||as Konstantin Gromov/Dmitry Gromov|
|Sergey Makovetsky||as Valentin Edgarovich Belkin|
|Irina Saltykova||as herself|
|Gary Houston||as Richard Mennis|
|Ray Toler||as Ben Johnson|
|Darya Yurgens||as Dasha-Marilyn, the prostitute|
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 the important characters, there are some of 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.
- "Бай-Бай" (Bye-Bye) — Irina Saltykova (O. Molchanov, A. Slavorosov)
- "Полковник" (Colonel) — Bi-2 (Shura Bi-2, Lyova Bi-2)
- "Счастье" (Happiness) — Bi-2 (Shura Bi-2, Lyova Bi-2)
- "Солнечный круг" (Sun Ring) — Irina Saltykova (O. Molchanov, A. Slavorosov)
- "Варвара" (Varvara) — Bi-2 (Shura Bi-2, Lyova Bi-2)
- "Огоньки" (Twinkles) — Irina Saltykova (P. Andreev)
- "Искала" (I Was Searching) — Zemfira (Zemfira Ramazanova)
- "Ту Лу Ла" (Tu La La) — Chicherina (Yulia Chicherina)
- "Гибралтар" (Gibraltar) — Vyacheslav Butusov (Vyacheslav Butusov, Dmitry Gunitsky)
- "Дорога" (The Road) — AuktsYon (Leonid Fyodorov, Dmitry Ozeretsky)
- "Кавачай" (Kavachay) — Okean Elzy (Svyatoslav Vakarchuk, Pavlo Hudimov)
- "Вечно молодой" (Forever Young) — Smyslovyie gallyutsinatsii (Sergey Bobunets, Oleg Genenfeld)
- "Коли тебе нема" (When You Are Out) — Okean Elzy (Svyatoslav Vakarchuk)
- "Розовые очки" (Pink Glasses) — Smyslovye gallyutsinatsii (Sergey Bobunets, Oleg Genenfeld)
- "Гни свою линию" (Be On Your Own Way) — Splin (Aleksandr Vasilyev)
- "Секрет" (The Secret) — Agata Kristi (Gleb Samoylov)
- "Никогда" (Never) — Vadim Samoylov (Vadim Samoylov)
- "Город" (The City) — Tantsy minus (Vyacheslav Petkun)
- "Катманду" (Kathmandu) — Krematoriy (Armen Grigoryan)
- "Иду" (I Am Going) — Tantsy minus (Vyacheslav Petkun)
- "Земля" (Earth) — Masha i medvedi (Denis Petukhov, Maria Makarova)
- "Lafayette" — Sleeping for Sunrise (Blake J. Zweig, James Konczyk, Jay Ranz)
- "Погляд" (The Sight) — La-Mansh (Dmytro Tsyperdiuk)
- "Прощальное письмо" (Farewell Letter) — Nautilus Pompilius and Children's Choir led by M. I. Slavkin (Vyacheslav Butusov, Dmitry Umetsky)
- "Стюардесса Жанна" (Jeanne The Stewardess) — The Metropol Restaurant Orchestra (Vladimir Presnyakov Jr., Ilya Reznik, Aleksandr Starobinets)
'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.'
'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.'
- Bodrov's lines '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.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Brother 2|
- Ukraine banned Brother 2 for the «scenes that humiliate Ukrainians» // ТСН, 18.02.2015
- Brother 2 review // Afisha, 01.01.2001
- One way ticket , Yuri Gladilschikov, Itogi, Moscow, 5 June 2000.Retrieved: 5 January 2013