Eastern Promises (the film) and Zero Hour

AN: This is the first of many extras I will be posting to go along with this fanfiction story. Extras will include an Omake, at least one deleted scene, and a couple of other postings.

Of Bosses and their Number Twos

One of the challenges of writing Zero Hour, the second story in my Viewfinder fanfiction series, is it takes place six years before the events in the Canon. For those of you who don’t know, what I refer to as the Canon is Vols. 1-7 of the Viewfinder series, a yaoi manga by Yamane Ayano.  This series is also known as the Finder series and You’re My Love Prize in the Viewfinder.

Obviously I can’t recommend this manga highly enough since I’m writing a trilogy based on it. With Omake and other extras. This blog post is the first of them.

We know so little about seme Asami Ryuichi and his yakuza organization except a story that takes place seven years earlier involving Liu Feilong, the boss of a Chinese organization. And Takaba Akihito, the protagonist of the Canon, isn’t in the picture at all.

I knew Kirishima Kei, Asami’s trusted subordinate and First Assistant, would be the protagonist for Zero Hour and he would have his own pairing. I also knew there would a lot of emphasis on the organization itself and Asami’s relationship with his men so I decided to look around for films about bosses and their number twos as a jumping off point. I started with my own collection of films and didn’t have to venture much further. I watched a few films including Master and Commander with Russell Crowe as the captain of a ship and Paul Bettany as his best friend and the ship’s doctor,  A Bittersweet Life, a Korean film about a number two who is betrayed by his boss, and Pusher, a Danish film about a drug dealer who gets in trouble with a crime boss after a deal goes bad. All three films were instructive and I was able to observe relationships between bosses and their men; Pusher, in particular, was great for observing how an extremely competent number two and his boss interact with each other. I kept looking around for more films then realized the one really I needed was right under my nose (or rather right under a pile of DVDs on my media shelf).

 Eastern Promises (2007 dir. David Cronenberg)

Viggo Mortensen (right) is Nicolai and Vincent Cassell (left) is Kirill.

As soon as I dug this film out of the pile, I knew it would  work very well for my purposes.  Nikolai (played by Viggo Mortensen) is the driver, henchman, bodyguard, and “cleaner” to Kirill, the “prince,” that is, the only son of a Russian Mafia boss.  Their story isn’t Asami’s and Kirishima’s story at all but it shows very clearly the relationship between a boss and his trusted subordinate.

This film is about a Russian/British midwife (Naomi Watts) and her encounter with the Russian Mafia in London. There’s the code of conduct among these men even though Kirill regularly breaks this code due to his own incompetence, and Nicolai repeatedly has to bail Kirill out of the messes he gets himself into.  There’s also the marvelous twist, one I didn’t really see before when I first saw/bought it and that is Kirill is in love with Nicolai. Nicolai manipulates Kirill’s feelings to do his job and gain power in the organization.  Kirill’s feelings for Nicolai were confirmed by Cronenberg in an interview I’ve saved here as part of my research.

I love how Cronenberg chose not to make a big deal out of Kirill’s feelings though you can see them if you’re paying attention to how Kirill looks at Nicolai and how he touches him. In a way, Nicolai uses Kirill’s feelings much in the same way Asami uses Feilong’s feelings in Finder volume 2.

Can’t really blame Kirill for being in love with Nicolai…

While watching this film, I paid close attention to how the organization works and how the men relate to each other. I thought about how someone like Kirishima, who has only been First Assistant for a year, might navigate his way through many challenges, both personal and work related, in the context of the organization. In the same way that Nicolai takes care of Kirill, Kirishima must take care of his boss.

Though the homoerotic elements aren’t present between Asami and Kirishima, I still really enjoyed watching the way Kirill and Nicolai are together. Poor Kirill. He’s unable admit to himself that he’s in love with another man but he can’t keep his hands off Nicolai.

I watched it something like 3-4 times over the course of a couple of weeks. It’s a really good film, though extremely violent and gory in some parts. And both men are outstanding. I recommend it if you don’t mind violent films.