Sheer Brutality: Our Review of ‘Rhino: Ukranian Godfather’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - March 24, 2023
Sheer Brutality: Our Review of ‘Rhino: Ukranian Godfather’

There are only a handful of movies that honestly make audiences wince, and Oleh Sentsov manages to make audiences wince about as much as Eli Roth can with any of his extreme movies. This is simply because the raw element of the sheer level of violence and near torture that the film explores that brings to life a post-soviet Ukraine in this drama set in the mid 1990s. While the movie is gnarly and certainly gruesome, the story on the other hand falls on the other end of the spectrum, it is rather light and comes second nature to the sheer violence and exploitation that was/is happening in the criminal underground world.

The movie focuses on Rhino/Vora (Serhii Filimonov) who grew up in the Ukraine in the 1980s with his family consisting of his mother, brother, and sister and his father who was a drunk who ended up in prison. Being a strong headed individual, who has an unusual, almost superhuman, tolerance to pain he decides to pick a fight with some wise cracking guys who run the local gym. After getting teamed up on and rather annihilated in that fight, he joins a different gang which teaches him the ropes to create his own affiliation.

The biggest issue with Rhino, as previously mentioned, is the story itself. The film never dives into any of its characters, even Rhino himself, and just shows off the brutality and his bruteness to great effect. However, without diving into the character, or any other characters, there is much left to be desired and for the audience to want to sink their teeth into. Granted, the newcomer in Serhii Filimonov is great, and certainly has the build and affinity for violence it is not enough for the audience to get behind him and rally for his success or demise. It just lacks the extra punch it needs to convey the movie into something truly captivating.

While Rhino does succeed in its cinematography, as its choreographed fights and dark ill-lit grimy underground that we follow Rhino through is certainly ample, it is the high point of the film. While it is gorgeous to look at, and certainly stomach churning to take in the hyper realistic violence and refusal to shy away from hearing bones break and the sheer brutality, the direction and cinematography are top notch in that aspect.

Rhino lacks the story telling that audiences need to get their teeth sunken into a story and its characters, but the direction and cinematography certainly help carry the journey. Atop of some hard shots and forcing the audience to nearly look away due to the mass violence the film boasts, it is Serhii Filimonov’s vehicle to prove his acting chops. While the story is lacking and the level of violence is to the extreme, Rhino shines a light on the criminal underground of a post soviet Ukraine.

  • Release Date: 3/24/2023
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My earliest movie memory, outside of my home theatre in my basement, was going to the local Video 99 and wanting to rent ET only to be told by the shop owner it was playing down the street in theatres. My love for cinema has been alive for as long as I can honestly remember. I would frequent the cinema minutes down from my house daily. It was a second home. Movies are an escape from the everyday world, a window into the soul, a distant friend. If I’m not watching a movie, I’m probably watching a tv show, if I’m doing neither I’m asleep. Feel free to interact me at @Dubsreviews
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