year old Mustafa has a nickname Schizo. He is hired by his mother's boyfriend
to find fighters for illegal fistfights. His life is changed forever when
a young man mortally beaten in one of the fights asks Schizo to deliver
his prize money to his girlfriend and young son. Schizo takes the money
to the woman as promised and falls in love with her. Now he knows for whom
he has to make money, no matter what the cost. In fistfights, there are
no rules...until blood is spilled!
Schizo is the shorter term for the word schizophrenia, which is a condition
used to describe split personality. The film opens with Mustafa's mother
bringing him to the doctor's, who diagnoses his condition. Teased by schoolmates,
Mustafa takes on the
nickname given to him, and seems nonchalant about it.
He lives the
poor life with his mother and her boyfriend Sakura, whom he is working for
as a runner in an underground street-fighting arena. They look for impoverished
working class men who are up for a shot to win a Mercedes Benz, if they
fistfights. But Fate allows Mustafa to meet Zina and her son as he arranges
the death wish of one of the fighters, and Mustafa takes it upon himself
to care for the family.
the film progresses, the Mustafa we observe doesn't seem to be suffering
from schizophrenia. Or is it because the drugs he rely on has kept his condition
under control? He seemed to have been planning his moves like an experienced
player, outsmarting his adversaries, making them vulnerable because of their
perceived impression that Mustafa is a sick boy.
for the worse when Mustafa's latest recruit, his uncle, actually wins the
organized street fight and walks away with the Benz, but the thugs behind
the event want to get even (you don't expect fair play from illegal activities,
do you?). It adds
another dimension to the story's title, as Mustafa embarks on a risky venture
and expected 50-50 returns.
kept simple without much frills, but it's the cinematography that will take
your breath away, with various lingering shots of Kazakhstan's sparse grasslands.
And it's no
surprise this is Kazakhstan's official submission for Oscar 2005. So for
those interested to watch the contenders in action, do remember to include
this in your watch list.
trailer (A barebone version)
Dolby Digital 2.0 with English subtitles
(A simple story which doesn't have too many elements to split its attention
away from the protagonist. Schizophrenic this film is not.)
Review by Stefan Shih