(detailed information about this entry from Wikipedia)
Lord of War is a 2005 film written and directed by Andrew Niccol and starring Nicolas Cage. It was released in the United States on September 16, 2005.
Cage's character bears a striking similarity to Victor Bout. Some also believe that he is based at least partially on Marc Rich. Eamonn Walker's character (André Baptiste Sr.) is believed to be based on Charles Taylor.
The DVD was released on January 17, 2006 in the USA.
- Tagline: Where there's a will, there's a weapon.
The movie begins with Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage) matter-of-factly stating, "There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other eleven?" The opening credits then follow the journey of a bullet from a munitions assembly line in the eastern bloc to the head of a small African boy.
The rest of the movie is told in flashback, starting in the 1980s and ending to where he is now.
Through voiceover, Yuri Orlov describes how he first became an arms dealer. Yuri and his family came to the U.S. from Ukraine as a young boy. His family pretends to be Jewish for favorable immigration conditions. His family owns a restaurant, which is useful, "because people are always going to have to eat." After Yuri sees a Russian Mafia boss kill his two would-be assassins, he decides to provide another necessity: guns.
Before beginning his career in earnest, he approaches Simeon Weisz, a seasoned arms dealer, at an arms convention with a business proposal. Weisz turns him down, dismissing him as an amateur. He partners up with his brother, Vitaly (Jared Leto), and begins selling arms. Yuri keeps his multiple identities and paperwork in a security container. It starts small and begins with him selling US M-16 rifles they left behind from the 1982 Lebanon War.
As he grows, Yuri (through voiceover) tells of his first incident with Jack Valentine (Ethan Hawke), a dogged Interpol agent who can't be bought with money. The first encounter in the movie is when Yuri is on the ship Kristol smuggling a shipment of weapons, including M16s. He gets a call stating that the authorities have been tipped off; Yuri changes the ship name to the Kono and uses a French flag turned sideways to seem like a Dutch flag, and the first encounter with Jack Valentine smoothly plays out in Yuri's favor.
During his latest business deal with a Colombian drug lord, Yuri is paid in cocaine instead of cash. Yuri objects and is shot in the heated exchange. He hastily agrees to the deal and leaves in a taxi with the load of cocaine. Vitaly is unsure of what to do next and asks Yuri what to do. Yuri answers by saying "let's celebrate." They both end up snorting cocaine, but Vitaly becomes addicted, and Yuri takes him to a rehabilitation center. From then on, Yuri conducts the arms business alone. Shortly after this episode, he begins to court Ava Fontaine, a successful model. After booking a fake photo shoot for $20,000 and the entire hotel for $12,000, they marry and later have a son.
His business is still relatively small, but finally Yuri gets his big break when the Soviet Union dissolves. Gorbachev's Christmas Day 1991 resignation speech is shown on television; Yuri shows more interest in the TV than in his family. He contacts his uncle, Dimitri, a general of the former Red Army, now left in bureaucractic limbo, as the new Ukrainian government and military are in the infancy of their organization. Taking him onside with his business, Yuri buys Dimitri's tanks and AK-47s to expand his inventory. Meanwhile, Interpol agent Jack Valentine stalks Yuri, nearly catching him when Yuri is loading weaponry, along with an old model Mi-24 Hind onto a Russian ship bound for Burkina Faso. Fortunately, Yuri discovers a loophole in the law banning the export of military helicopter: if unarmed and converted to civilian use, their export is not prohibited. The weapons are removed and shipped separately. Valentine growls about the loopholes and vows that they will be closed, but has no choice but to release Yuri.
Shortly after this, Dimitri is assassinated by a car bomb, compliments of Weisz. Yuri moves onto selling arms to the West African dictator of Liberia, André Baptiste (based on Charles Taylor). Jack Valentine continues his pursuit of Yuri, confident that he will eventually slip up. He doggedly searches the garbage of the Orlov household. After painstakingly reconstructing a dumpster full of Yuri's shredded documents, Valentine discovers that Yuri will soon be making a cargo run to Sierra Leone.
Yuri's cargo plane, an Antonov An-12, is intercepted by an L-39 jet trainer. Yuri instructs the pilot to land the plane on a dirt road, knowing the fighter will not be able to land there. After landing safely, and having been deserted by the plane's crew, he gives the entire shipment of arms away to passers-by. When Jack Valentine finally arrives, the plane is empty, and there is no evidence of the arms shipment. Jack deliberately keeps Yuri detained for twenty-four hours (the longest detention allowed without charge), before he is forced to release him, because, as he argues, any delay in the arms trade saves lives. Yuri is left unguarded in the wild for 24 hours with handcuffs on. In the meantime, all removable parts of the plane are stripped off by locals.
By now, Yuri has established a very good relationship with André Baptiste, but is horrified when Baptiste captures Weisz as a "present." Baptiste invites Yuri to kill Weisz. When Yuri refuses, Baptiste puts the gun in his hand while slowly pulling the trigger himself. Yuri is invited to say "stop" at any time, but only says it after the shot. Soon after this incident, Yuri sniffs "brown-brown," a mixture of cocaine and gunpowder, and becomes extremely intoxicated by the mixture. At a point in his delirium, he has sex with an African prostitute, despite the uncomfortably high probability that she is HIV positive.
Jack keeps Yuri under surveillance, and reveals to Ava that Yuri is an arms dealer. At first, she does not believe him, but eventually realizes the truth. Ava confronts him about his business; he promises that he will stop. He makes more legal deals to exploit the resources of poor nations, but complains that the margins are low and competition is high. A year later, Baptiste and his son come over and visit Yuri (they are heading to the United Nations) with another arms deal offer. Yuri initially refuses, but when Baptiste indicates that he will be much more generous than usual, Yuri relents.
He takes Vitaly along to the deal, which turns out to be in Sierra Leone. However, during the deal, Vitaly becomes distressed: he sees men kill a mother and child in a nearby village of unarmed civilians and tells Yuri that their customers will kill all the villagers right after Yuri sells the weapons. He pleads with Yuri to cancel the shipment. Yuri, who goes by the slogan, "They're not our fight," tries to convince him that someone else will sell the weapons if they don't; he also argues that both of them will be killed if they try to cancel the deal. Vitaly pretends to agree. But in a bold act, he takes two grenades and destroys half of Yuri's shipments; the guards then kill Vitaly. Of the incident, Yuri says that it was true that the village dwellers were massacred after he handed the weapons over, but, "There were half a dozen other massacres that week. They say that 'evil prevails when good men fail to act.' It ought to be 'evil prevails.'"
Yuri ships his brother's remains back to the United States. He pays someone to remove the bullets from Vitaly's body, but one bullet remains, and Yuri is stopped by customs. Meanwhile, while being followed by Jack Valentine, Ava finds Yuri's security container, who finally has the definitive proof to imprison Yuri. Ava takes their son and leaves him. When Yuri calls his parents, his mother says, "Both my sons are dead." Valentine tells Yuri that he has a long jail sentence ahead of him, but Yuri abruptly brings him back to reality. In a bold statement, he proclaims that the United States government is a much bigger supplier of arms than him, that some of Orlov's customers are useful to US foreign policy (i.e. "the enemy of my enemy is my friend"), and that to put him on trial would bring too many embarrassing revelations. He tells Valentine that there will be a knock at the door, and that a high ranking military officer will be standing outside, and that he will order Yuri's release. Valentine realizes this reality and states, "I would tell you to go to hell, but I think you're already there." A few seconds later, there is a knock at the door, and events proceed as Yuri predicted.
A free man again, and without his family and friends, he returns to selling arms. In the closing scene of the film, he is in North Africa and gives two guards a packaging slip for a shipment of umbrellas. "Umbrellas? In the Sahara?" one guard asks incredulously. "Sun umbrellas," Yuri says. The guards lift up the slip — revealing a plush bribe — and both guards immediately wave them through. The movie ends by proclaiming that the U.S., the UK, France, Russia and China (the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council) are the world's leading arms dealers and ends with, "This film is based on actual events." as the camera rolls over thousands of bullets (symbolic of all the weapons Yuri has sold) until they fade away and the credits pursue.
Orlov has four rules in Gun Running.
- Never get shot with your own merchandise.
- Always have a fool proof way to get paid.
- Never pick up a gun and join your customer.
- Never go to war. Especially with yourself.
- There is a real Yuri Orlov who, ironically, is a human rights activist.
- The high-ranking US military officer that protects Yuri is called "Colonel Oliver Southern", a pun on the name of real-life Col. Oliver North, who was involved in a US government scheme of providings funds to Nicaragua "Contras" coming from illegal arms sales to Iran.
- The UK DVD release of Lord of War has, prior to the film, an advert for Amnesty International, showing the AK-47 being sold on a shopping channel of the style popular on cable networks.
- The name Kono, which Yuri paints as the Kristol's new registry, is also the name of a diamond rich province in Sierra Leone.
- In 2004, the United States ranked first in arms transfer agreements with developing nations at $6.9 billion. Russia ranked second at $5.9 billion.
- The four West European suppliers, as a group (France, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy) registered a significant increase in their collective share of all arms transfer agreements with developing nations between 2003 and 2004. This group’s share rose dramatically from 5.5% in 2003 to 22% in 2004. The collective value of this group’s arms transfer agreements with developing nations in 2004 was $4.8 billion compared with a total of $830 million in 2003.
Yuri Orlov: There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other eleven?
Yuri Orlov: The reason I'll be released is the same reason you think I'll be convicted. I *do* rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of these men are the enemies of *your* enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss--the President of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year--sometimes it's embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns. Sometimes he needs a freelancer like me to supply forces he can't be seen supplying. So. You call me evil, but unfortunately for you, I'm a necessary evil.
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