Rise of the Wolf

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Rise of the Wolf

Promotional poster for Rise of the Wolf
Directed by Marianna Bajusz
Produced by
Screenplay by Marianna Bajusz
Starring
Music by Martin Fröst
Cinematography Bidzina Steelberg
Editing by Gulnaz Undiladze
Studio Rustavi Studio
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (Breisland)
Release date(s) August 24, 2003
(Kaspi)
September 7, 2003
(Varkana)
Running time 118 minutes
Country Aetolia
Varkana
Language Aetolian
Varkan
Budget ₭TBD million
Box office ₭TBD million

Rise of the Wolf (Varkan: ლიკოსი აღზევება, lik’osi aghzeveba; Aetolian: Άνοδος του Λύκος, Ánodos tou Lýkos) is a 2003 Varkan-Aetolian action thriller film written and directed by Marianna Bajusz. It stars Markos Vasdekis as Lomi Lykos, a Varkan Aetolian working for the OYP. While infiltrating the ultra orthodox in Varkana, he gets involved in a plot to assassinate Varkan President Zurab Avalishvili.

Most of the film was shot on location in Gali and Palaiochori, where streets were temporarily shut down during principal photography. Distributed by Paramount Pictures, Rise of the Wolf was theatrically released in the MOZ on September 7, 2003, and grossed over ₭TBD million worldwide. Critical response was generally positive, with publications highlighting the action sequences. A sequel, Wolf and Tiger, has been in development since 2004, and is set to be released in 2019 with Vasdekis reprising his role as Lykos.

Synopsis

In Palaiochori, Aetolia, OYP agent Lomi Lykos (Markos Vasdekis) is tasked by director for counterterrorism Ekaterini Langakis (Niki Kelesidou) of infiltrating the ULTRA ORTHODOX in neighboring Varkana which threaten to spread their extremist activities to Aetolia. Lykos travels across the Sinora River to Gali and begins his preparations. He attends a right-wing rally and comes in contact with Dito (Giorgi Iosseliani), a member of ULTRA ORTHODOX. They go to a bar after the protest and start discussing the actions of Avalishvili's government and the Varkan revolution and how he threatens Armazist values with his secularism. Lykos spends more time with Dito and meets his cousin Radish Otskheli (Irakli Pirosmani), who is suspicious of him and initially unfriendly. Lykos tries to earn their trust over time by beating up a Jewish man outside a synagogue in the commune, with Dito as witness. Otskheli orders his right hand man Giorgi (Sargis Chikobava) to follow Lykos and see if his background checks out. Lykos realizes he is being watched and lives a mundane life, trying to blend in. Otskheli is convinced and allows Lykos to join the group. After some time, Lykos learns they are planning something the next day in Mestia where Varkan President Zurab Avalishvili is set to make a public appearance. Trying to figure out more details, Lykos finds out the bombs that will be used for an attack on Avalishvili but gets caught by Otskheli.

Lykos is captured, tied up, and left under the watch of Otskheli's wife Elene (Anastasia Kakabadze), while the group drives to Mestia to plant the bomb. Lykos manages to escape in the meantime and goes to the SSD Headquarters in the city to warn Varkan intelligence of the imminent threat. Lykos meets SSD agent Marina Shengelaia (Nino Tsereteli) who tries to verify his identity. Lykos leaves as the bureaucratic process is wasting precious time and rushes to Mestia. Shengelaia has agents follow Lykos and warns the Tetri Guard of a potential threat, describing Otskheli's group and Lykos as suspects. At Avalishvili's rally, Lykos finds the bomb in a van guarded by Dito who he easily neutralizes, but the Tetri Guard sees him and thinks he is the culprit. Lykos escapes as a foot chase follows, while Avalishvili is giving a speech. Meanwhile, Giorgi is in the crowd with a handgun, awaiting Otskheli's orders to kill Avalishvili or not. Giorgi spots Lykos running near the crowd and sneaks behind him as Lykos is stopped by an arriving Shengelaia who faces him. She fires a shot at Lykos who is hit in the shoulder, but the bullet continues behind him and hits Giorgi in the wrist, disarming him. She fires two more shots at each of Giorgi's knees to make sure he wouldn't move. Avalishvili is evacuated by the Tetri Guard, while the communal police manages the crowd's panic.

Realizing the Varkans are trusting him now, Lykos informs Shengelaia that Otskheli is still at large. They locate him and a car chase ensues all the way back to Gali where Otskheli fatally crashes. Some time later, Langakis watches a news broadcast about the death of Otskheli and the arrests of Dito, Giorgi and Elene. At the end of the movie, Lykos visits the hospitalized Jewish man against Langakis' orders.

Cast

Production

Development

Casting

Bajusz approached a wide range of actors for the role of Lykos both in Aetolia and Varkana, with a necessary focus on the actor being perfectly bilingual in Aetolian and Varkan, before she eventually cast Vasdekis, an Aetolian Varkan. Bajusz found that Vasdekis understood and appreciated that, though Rise of the Wolf would have its share of action, the focus was primarily on character and plot. Vasdekis, who had never played such a physically demanding role, insisted on performing many of the stunts himself. With stunt choreographer DUDE, he underwent three months of extensive training in stunt work, the use of weapons and khridoli.

Filming

Reception

Box office

Critical response

The film received positive reviews. The film review collection website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film an 77% approval rating based on 113 reviews collected, and an average score of 7/10. The site's consensus reads "Rise of the Wolf is a well executed action thriller with a smoothly charismatic performance from Markos Vasdekis."

Sequel