As patronising as back-handed compliments go, the phrase: "it looks almost like a Hollywood film" has got to take the biscuit. It's a bit like clapping eyes on your friend's newborn baby and chirping: "ooh, it looks almost human."
But this is precisely what critics said about Mongol, the stunning historical epic from Sergei Bodrov, the Russian director, when it scooped an Oscar nomination last year. It was as if the assembled canape chompers couldn't quite believe such a beautiful and ambitious film could issue forth from the Eastern Bloc.
Well it has, and in truth, Mongol, a joint production between Russia, Kazakhstan and Germany, knocks its risible Hollywood equivalents (Alexander, anyone?) into a cocked helmet. It's the first in a trilogy about Genghis Khan, the Mongolian war lord, and tracks the first part of his life as he's forced into exile by the murder of his father, a tribal leader, and wanders the steppe in search of love and revenge.
Throw in some rollicking good fight scenes - without a CGI orc or oiled Macedonian in sight - and you have the makings of the perfect Saturday night movie.
Mongol goes on general release from tonight, June 6.