Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, starring Konstantin Khabensky, Vladimir Menshov, Valeri Zolotukhin, Mariya Poroshina and Viktor Verzhbitsky.

'Night Watch' offers an interesting take on the battle between good and evil that has secret police roaming around Moscow on a quest to stop vampires and witches breaking an ancient treaty.

This adaptation of Russian author Sergei Lukyanenko's series of science fiction novels was first released in Russia in July 2004 and has smashed all previous Russian box office records.

The story goes that Others have existed since mankind began. An Other is someone who has a special gift or ability such as being a witch, vampire or shape-shifter. All Others must choose whether they will be on the side of good, the Light, or evil, the Dark.

Around 1,000 years ago the Dark and the Light decided to square up to each other to settle who would hold the balance of power in the world. However, the sides remained deadlocked and it was up to the Lord of the Light, Gesser (Menshov), and the General of Darkness, Zavulon (Verzhbitsky), to broker an agreement that would see both sides able to live in harmony.

Night Watch are the group of Light Others that ensure the Dark Others adhere to the terms of the agreement. Mainly they run around Moscow preventing the use of black magic.

A prophecy was told that one day an Other known as 'the Great One' would come and would hold powers that could shift the balance between the Light and the Dark. Whatever side this Other chose would prosper in the battle between good and evil.

Fast forward to 1992 and we are in a small room where Anton Gordesky (Khabensky) has engaged the help of a witch to win back the heart of his fiancée who has left him. Night Watch arrive and Anton discovers that he is an Other - a seer who must join a chase to prevent 'the Great One' from being attracted to the forces of the Dark.

Don't imagine for a second that this is the latest in a number of poor attempts to cash in on the Wachowski brothers' classic, 'The Matrix'. 'Night Watch' offers a refreshing change from the over reliance on big budget effects and martial arts.

The visual effects and CGI, although good, play second fiddle to the story and the excellent acting performances, particularly from Konstantin Khabensky in the role of Anton.

The length of time that it takes for the basic plot points to be established and for the action to take centre stage is quite a frustration, not to mention slightly confusing, given that the movie is also subtitled.

Once the chase begins and plot twists start being unfolded the spectacle becomes enthralling. While the movie could have collapsed, it is rescued by the final 40 minutes of action when subtle hints from earlier in the plot start to fall into place.

'Night Watch' is the first part of a planned trilogy (more 'Matrix' similarities). Hopefully director Timur Bekmambetov will be able to follow the action in a similar manner now that the plot intricacies have been dealt with.

Patrick Kennedy