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I wasn't quite sure where to put this review; I was thinking maybe "action/adventure," because there's plenty of action... But ultimately, I didn't want to do that, because it doesn't really seem like an adventure. It's more of a historical drama. Or something. Um... I guess it's set in the early 16th century. I'll be honest, I don't know much about ancient Mayan civilization, and I could easily confuse it with civilizations such as the Aztecs or Incas. (Some critics of the film say its depiction more closely resembles the Aztecs than the Maya, anyway.) I do want to mention that, though the movie came out in 2006, I didn't watch it until December 21, 2012. You know, because that was ostensibly the date the Maya had predicted the world would end (even though we all know they predicted no such thing). The movie has nothing to do with that, but I thought it would be an appropriate day to watch it, anyway.
We start out seeing some hunters... and I'm not sure if they're part of the Mayan civilization or not. Probably not; they seemed to be from a small, completely independent village in the forest, but they clearly didn't live far from a major Mayan city. (I'm not sure how far, but it seemed like they walked there within a couple of days.) Anyway, the main character is a hunter named Jaguar Paw. He and some of the others kind of acted like jerks toward one of their friends, who quite justifiably got pissed off, but eventually he ends up laughing along at the cruel practical jokes they played on him. We also get to see a bit of their tribal life back in the village. Basically, aside from the fact that everyone's damn near naked, and have no modern conveniences, they seem a lot like people today, in terms of friendship, marriage, and family. So we can identify with them.
But before long, the village is attacked by Mayan warriors. There is a great deal of slaughter, presumably some rape, and most of the survivors were taken prisoner. Jaguar Paw had lowered his very pregnant wife, Seven, and young son, Turtles Run, into a pit, to hide from the invaders, but one of the invaders cut the rope that had been left for them to climb out. So they were stuck there, and throughout the film, Jaguar Paw would be desperate to get back to them. We see occasional scenes of Seven and Turtles Run in the pit, but most of the movie follows Jaguar Paw and the other prisoners as their captors marched them to the city. Once they get there, they find that they are to be sacrificed to the gods. However, there was an eclipse just before Jaguar Paw would have been killed (which happened to be something prophesied earlier by a strange young girl the captors and prisoners had encountered, who suffered from some sickness). So it's decided the gods had their fill of blood, and the remaining captives were taken to be "released," but actually they were just being set up to be killed for sport, apparently. However, Jaguar Paw managed to escape, and was then pursued through the jungle by some of the same warriors who had captured them in the first place. At this point... Jaguar Paw kind of took a level in badass, and things didn't go so well for his pursuers. And other aspects of the sick girl's prophecy seem to come true. I don't want to say any more about the plot.
I guess the movie was somewhat controversial, but I thought it was well-made. Definitely rather horrific in some ways, but it had its fair share of humor and sweetness, I guess. It was... well, it had a kind of happy ending, but it's hard to really be "happy," after all the horror. And one aspect of the ending, while predictable, can't help but leave you with serious doubt as to how long whatever happiness there was would actually last. But for the most part, it was satisfying. (Oh, btw... I hope you like subtitles.)