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.
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.
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 / 5)