“Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon” (2015): Mongolian Ruler Takes an Absorbing Trip in Visually Breathtaking Science-Fiction Short


After destroying and uniting Southeast Asian tribes to create the Mongol Empire, feared warrior Genghis Khan finds himself on a metaphysical quest during the final days of his life in director Kerry Yang’s magnificent science-fiction fantasy short film Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon. This gorgeous, ambitious short packs an unbelievable amount of scope and technical prowess  into its 17-minute running time.

Two iconic actors who are well known to genre film fans give splendid performances in Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon. Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa stars as Genghis Khan, who comes upon the abode of a wizard, played by James Hong. Interested only in what material goods he can plunder, Genghis Khan initially mistakes a golden telescope for some sort of magical weapon and is disappointed when the wizard informs him that the device is only for looking. After staring at the moon’s Sea of Tranquility, Genghis Khan asks gruffly, “What use is it in looking at something if you can’t reach out and conquer it?” As he then greedily drinks from the wizard’s potions, he finds himself on a journey on which he can ponder his question at great length.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa stars as the infamous titular ruler of the Mongol Empire in the fantastic science fiction-short Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon.

Kerry Yang, who cowrote the screenplay with Steve Emmons, gives the short the feel of an epic movie with amazing framing of grand landscape shots of both the Earth and the moon, along with telling close-ups of its two calculating main characters. The story unfolds at a perfect pace without a frame being wasted. Co-directors of cinematography Guan Xi and Noah Kistler capture each moment beautifully. Veronica Li’s sound design and Pantawit Kiangsiri’s score splendidly complement the proceedings.

It’s no surprise that the special effects in Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon look as spectacular as they do, considering that Gene Warren III served as visual effects supervisor.  He has worked on dozens of films, many of them genre efforts, including Hellboy, The Collector, and the Pulse sequels.

Genre-film legend James Hong portrays a wizard who questions Genghis Khan’s pillaging, plundering ways.

Viewers will be hard pressed to find a better looking, more fully realized short film than Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon this year.  Remarkably,  this is Kerry Yang’s USC School of Cinematic Arts MFA thesis project. She obviously has a bright future in store and I can’t wait to see what she offers film lovers in the future.  Two years in the making, the short is currently on a film festival run; readers can check for information on screenings at www.genghiskhanconquersthemoon.com. Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon is a sumptuous feast for the eyes backed with an absorbing story and a huge heart and I give it my highest, go-out-of-your-way-to-see-it recommendation.

Genghis Khan Conquers the Moon: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry fell in love with horror films as a preschooler when he first saw the Gill-Man swim across the TV screen in "The Creature from The Black Lagoon" and Mothra battle Godzilla in "Godzilla Vs. The Thing.” His education in fright fare continued with TV series such as "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits," along with legendary northern California horror host Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features." His love for silver age and golden age comic books, including horror titles from Gold Key, Dell, and Marvel started around age 5.

He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Horror Fuel, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right.

A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.