You want a history lesson? Take a class. You want clanging swords, sneering villains, storybook romance and bloody vengeance? Here's a brawny old-school epic to make the CGI tumult of 300, Alexander and Troy look like sissy-boy slap parties. Russian director Sergei Bodrov (Prisoner of the Mountains) shrewdly casts this reverent telling of Genghis Khan's early years not as the rise of an emperor but as a classic underdog tale. The arrow-straight storytelling is powered by a commanding lead performance by Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano. Last year's Academy Award nominee from Kazakhstan for Best Foreign Film, Mongol is purportedly the first in a multifilm saga on the wrath of Khan; as such, it's probably the last thing you'd expect — great fun.