Set in a murky underworld of
A mystical, almost intense, reference surrounds the adorning of these tattoos for the Vory V Zakone; a series of fierce, colourless symbols, placed in symbolic parts of the body by rank and accomplishment; much like an army officer with a chest full of medals. This is vintage Cronenberg territory; transgression and body transmogrification in full swing. We witness an almost erotic scene in which Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), in the midst of being tattooed, half naked, lying back, casually smoking a cigarette, is perfectly at one with the needle, the ink almost caressing his body.
Many feel that Eastern Promises feels muted, understated, lacking in depth and missing his bold brush strokes. Scenes of greatness flicker sporadically and moments of sheer horror; a scene in which Nikolia clips the fingers off a corpse or that first opening murder, are few and far between. So it's with annoyance, rather than celebration, that we witness one of Cronenberg's finest moments; Nikolia's naked fight, with two fully dressed assassins in a public bath-house. This amazing scene, honest in his brutality and fierceness, feels like it sprung out of a different film, such stark and brave film-making feels so out of place in this otherwise turgid, plodding tale