Red Star Rising

If you really want to understand Russia," the country's fallen arch-oligarch Boris Berezovsky once said, "all you have to do is watch Brother." The 1997 film and its 2000 sequel Brother II are arguably the most popular Russian films of the post-Soviet era. They still play in cinemas far from Moscow, and an estimated 5 million video copies have been sold. Both films star Sergei Bodrov Jr., who makes teenage girls across Russia swoon. Berezovsky was referring not to Bodrov's looks but to his character Danila, who becomes, almost by accident, a hit man. Returning home to St. Petersburg from the...