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Off-kilter dubbing lends cheesy charm to 'Nomad'

Kuno Becker plays a Kazakh warrior defending his people from a relentless tribe of Mongol invaders. (Weinstein Company)

"Nomad " is about the ancient struggles between the Kazakhs and the Mongols . It's dusty and dry and long. The men are handsome, the women pretty -- one of them is, anyway. And the would-be epic battle sequences are more credible as the movie drones on. But what you really need to know about "Nomad" is that it's dubbed. Yes, the lips of the young, old, powerful, and infirm produce lightly accented English that doesn't match the speed of their mouths. It gives the proceedings a cheesy charm.

So does casting American hottie Jay Hernandez and Kuno Becker , his Mexican equivalent, as Kazakh warriors defending their people from a relentless tribe of Mongol invaders. As it happens, Becker's character, Mansur , is the ultimate warrior, a leader the Kazakhs have been waiting for. He can unite the bickering factions in time to stand up against the Mongols. Of course, it takes half the movie for him to learn of his exalted destiny. He and his best friend, Erali (Hernandez), have been raised as brothers and guided in combat and philosophy by a sage, played by Jason Scott Lee .

"Nomad" seems eager to grab the same audiences that went for "Apocalypto " and "300 ," even the ones who didn't go for "Pathfinder ." But it's a lesser artistic life form, despite its sincere pride in the Kazakh history. Written by Rustam Ibragimbekov and directed by Sergei Bodrov and Ivan Passer , the movie seems determined to clean Sacha Baron Cohen's soiling from the cultural memory.

Nonetheless, the filmmakers don't appear to know what's important, let alone how to pace an epic for big drama and maximum thrills. Mansur and Erali fall for the same woman, but they leave her choice to destiny. In the meantime, she's captured by a Mongol warrior (Mark Dacascos ) who'll kill her brother unless she marries him. All the ingredients for a rousing time are here, yet nothing of interest occurs.

Well, that's not entirely true. Hernandez's accent and mustache are a hoot. And it's nice to see Dacascos and Lee in a movie that hasn't gone straight to cable. Although how that happened is a mystery.

Wesley Morris can be reached at For more on movies, go to movies/blog.



Directed by: Sergei Bodrov and Ivan Passer

Written by: Rustam Ibragimbekov

Starring: Kuno Becker , Jay Hernandez , Jason Scott Lee , Mark Dacascos

At: West Newton

Running time: 112 minutes

Rated: R (violence)