Your RDA of Irony

Mongol Camp–in every sense

Mickey Rourke to play Genghis Khan?

Star talks up role in historical epic…

Apr 26th 2010: Movie News

 Let it never be said that Mickey Rourke is one to shy away from a scrap. Fresh from action-packed roles in Iron-Man 2 and The Expendables, Rourke is set to play Asian warlord Genghis Khan in John Milius’ forthcoming biopic.

Whilst official confirmation has yet to emerge, Rourke sounds pretty sure the role is his, telling the Orlando Sentinal he’s keen to start work with Conan helmer Milius.

“I read his script and you know, the man is known for his tough writing,” says Rourke. “He wrote Conan and Dirty Harry and Apocalypse Now and it’ll be interesting to see how he works behind the camera. I’m playing Genghis.”

Well, if the film was meant to be a profound, insightful biography of Genghis Khan, the role would have been given to Meryl Streep. Even for the battle scenes, she is in better shape than Rourke.  I will tell you who else would have been better:  John Travolta.  With that extra 80 pounds, Travolta has the heavy lids and sated feline self-satisfaction of a mandarin.  At least, he should be cast as the Chinese Emperor.

Of course, an Asian actor couldn’t possibly be considered for the role of Genghis Khan.  That is a Hollywood tradition.  If you think that Mickey Rourke is a joke, how about John Wayne?  He played the Mongol warlord in “The Conqueror”; his leading lady was the equally oriental Susan Hayward.  The film did not attempt to be a historical narrative; it was just a far eastern western–with even the same backdrops.  Who is to say that the Gobi Desert doesn’t look like Utah?

Then there was Omar Sharif in “Genghis Khan”.  Well, Egypt is almost in Asia.  That 1965 film did attempt to recount the history–without Sharif discernibly aging.  (Genghis evidently conquered China and Persia in just two hours.)  And if this was supposed to be a serious film, someone should have told the cast.  They all were doing a different movie.  You have Stephen Boyd in “The Yellow Perils of Pauline”, Telly Savalas in “Mongol Beach Party”,  James Mason in “Charlie Chan at the Sack of Peking” and Eli Wallach in “Fiddler on the Yurt”.  The film is ridiculous but everyone seemed to be having a great time.  (Except Omar Sharif–quick, name all of his comedies.   See, you’re already done.)

Mickey Rourke.   Can he live up to these standards?  I am afraid that he will.


  1. Bob Kincaid says:

    This, I assume, will attempt to capitalize on the Russian biopic “Mongol” of considerable repute from a couple of years back.

    Like you, Eugene, I’m guessing it backfires.

    Sidebar: in the annals of miscasting, is there any greater than the casting of Jeff Chandler as an Indian in “Broken Arrow” (I think it was)? Even my father, who would sit still for almost anything in a Western, laughed out loud every time that one hit the screen. And this was a man who could even tolerate Humphrey Bogart as the Frito Bandito in that equally horrible film featuring Randolph Scott and Erroll Flynn.

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      Dear Bob,

      Did you see “Mongol”? Knowing how the Russians feel about the Mongols, I would imagine their Genghis Khan would be identical to “Alien.” Did Temujin pop out of Ivan Hurt’s stomach?


    • Wimple says:

      Bob, for me it was Marlon Brando as “Sakini” in Teahouse of the August Moon. Watching him squinting and mincing throughout was simply painful. Was it too soon after the close of the war to employ Japanese actors?

  2. SwanShadow says:

    The Conqueror is a hoot. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Wayne in yellowface drag, growling his lines ponderously in his unmistakable Western drawl: “I feel this Tar-tar wuh-mun is fer me, and mah blood sez… ‘Take her!'” Hilarious stuff.

    Adding to the hilarity, almost everyone who worked on the film died of cancer, because it was filmed in Nevada downwind from an A-bomb test site.

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