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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
review by Ian Sales
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.