Heartless, wanton, and vivid. Mother Russia Bleeds brings exploitation cinema’s flavor into a lewd, degrading, and ceaselessly violent brawler. Inhaling Russian internet meme, spitting out Russian tough guy dialect, and slathered in anti-communism dialog, Mother Russia Bleeds feeds into the genre’s strongest qualities – raw catharsis and satisfying aggression.
Paired with an exaggerated if stellar look at a drug epidemic which swept through Russia post-Soviet Union dissolution (and a clever if literal addiction metaphor), few brawlers earn their narrative heft so well. The greats of the genre always evoke a sly, subtle intelligence – Final Fight, River City Ransom included – and Mother Russia Bleeds joins them.
Underneath the crude, abrasive aesthetic (beautifully animated regardless) lies a genuine fight, knocking political correctness under the cover of Russia’s dire circumstance in the featured decade. It’s evocative, sharp, and brash, unusually situated with the perspective of Russia/Soviet Union overcoming problems internally as opposed to outside powers saving their country, or other other nations defeating the necessarily cold, affectless regimes. Here, it’s freedom fighters, a willing populace seeking to overthrow a gutless authority to secure their liberation, as apt a cause as one can find, Russian or otherwise.
A sensational interactive document, covered in brutish videogame violence, yet endlessly expressive.