For Storm Over Asia, director Vsevolod Pudovkin created a masterpiece that works on many levels. Osip Brik, a friend of Majakovsky's wrote the scenario from the novel by Novockchonov in a week - nineteen typed pages - in which each scene was described in at most four words. The film is a propaganda piece, a rallying cry for the revolution, an adventure film set in an unfamiliar land and an intriguing document of a vanished way of life.
The story takes place in the Mongolian frontier in 1918. While Genghis Khan led his people to conquest centuries before, his descendants are now Mongol herdsmen, with their land occupied by foreign forces. The British are not named, though that is clear from their uniforms, and Pudovkin generally avoids the temptation to caricature them. The cigar-smoking merchants ("those who buy cheap and sell dear") exploit the locals, buying their furs at a fraction of their value. When a native asks for the real value of his furs, he disappears in the resulting melee and flees to the hills , accidentally, joining the Soviet partisans.
The film is filled with irony throughout, and the tribesman is subsequently presented as the heir to Genghis Khan, to be used by the British as a puppet. When he witnesses what the British really think of him, Pudovkin shifts into a fantasy ending giving the partisan the chance to become like Genghis Khan, driving the occupiers from his country.
While it has its share of shots of beautiful desolate, landscapes, the story of STORM OVER ASIA is paramount. The narrative is as tightly plotted as any novel, Pudovkin is so confident at his craft that he can effortlessly shift styles to make a point. and the various threads of the story come together.