Zhauzhürek myng bala (Myn Bala: Warriors of the Steppe) (2012)




Director:     .

Starring:    Asylkhan Tolypov (Sartai), Ayan Utepburgen (Taimas), Kuralai Anabekova (Korlan), Tlektes Meiramov (Nazar), Toleubek Aralbai (Rakhimjan), Eduard Ondar (Dzungar Commander), Nurlan Alimzhan (Kassym), Artur Tolepov (Ilyas), Aidos Akmyzayev (Assan), Meirzhan Beissenbekov (Oussen), Doskhan Zholzhaksynov (Tole Bi), Tungyshpai Al-Tarazi (Yesset Batyr), Bolat Abdilmanov (Kanjigaly Boghenbai), Azat Bazarkeldi (Kazybek Bi), Yessim Seghizbayev (Monke Bi).

at the battle of Anyrakay in 1729 the Kazackhs defeat the Dzungars & taking control of their own territory for the first time in their history



Spoiler Warning:

The great powers of Europe were torn apart by irreconcilable contradictions:  the War for Spanish Inheritance, the Great Northern War and the Middle East was was under the yoke of the Ottoman Empire for 200 years began waking up from two centuries of hibernation.  The fire of devastating war also covered Central Asia.  Taking advantage of domestic warfare in the once mighty Kazakh Orda, Dzungar tribes occupied the Kazakh lands.  Enemy squads razed all the villages they met in their path. 

Soldiers are traveling fast over the steppes on their horses.  A small boy is awakened by the noise and he tells another boy, Zhomart, saying the men look like Dzungars. Three of the men now peel off from the group and ride toward the boys and their herd of sheep.  An arrow downs a sheep and then Zhomart is hit in the back with an arrow. The small boy stops to check on his friend, but the boy is dead.  The small boy now hides amidst the rocks.  The men now quickly head back to join their unit.  They are headed toward the small village of yurts.  The soldiers kill most of the men and herd the women and children together.  The small boy, named Sartai, sees his father run through with a lance.  He goes over to his father who tells him to run for his life.

Sartai sees his mother cut down.  He picks up a big club and knocks the barbarian out cold.  Another barbarian is headed over to kill Sartai, but a villager brings the man down with an arrow.  The villager now calls for Sartai and others to escape with him.

Seven years later.  Sartai is now a young man.  He and other young men, one of them being Taimas, bring venison to their small tribe. Sartai says hell to his Uncle Nazar.  The young men practice their fighting skills.  They don't want to be caught off-guard again by the enemy. 

Uncle Nazar scolds the young people for following the older Taimas onto the steppe.  Sartai says his grandfather shouldn't  treat them like kids anymore.  So Uncle Nazar takes the young people into the village for the New Years celebration.  The elders greet Uncle Nazar and the young people.  The women take the young woman with them.  Her name is Korlan.  Taimas pushes Sartai into a wrestling match with a tough looking fellow.  Sartai actually flips the guy quickly and wins the contest.  A pretty girl takes a close look at Sartai.  Sartai asks one of the lads whose daughter is that pretty girl watching them.  It's the wrestler Kassym's sister and the daughter of Rakhymzhan. 

Now Ayur comes riding into the village.  Kassym tells his sister Zere to go to the end yurt.  She goes.  Rakhymzhan welcomes Ayur to the celebration.  Ayur is a Dzungar.

Sartai throws his prize for winning the wrestling match to Kassym and says he knows a man who is hiding from the Dzungars.  "But his heart is free.  But you live like slaves even though you're free."  Uncle Nazar and his little group go back to their mountain village.  They can't stand the Dzungars. 

The next day Taimas gives Korlan a fancy knife, but tells her not tell anyone about it.  Last night they killed two Dzungars on the steppe.  Sartai tells Korlan that now it's time to get revenge on the Dzungars.  Korlan says she's in.  

The trio sees five men camping.  They steal their horses.  A man comes to check on their horses and he is cut down by one of the trio wearing a mask and riding a horse.  They sneak up on the man watching the fire and kill him.  Another man comes out of the tent and goes over to the man in front of the fire.  He finds the man dead, and he too is dead very quickly.  The two other men come running out of the tent, but they're killed with arrows.

The trio spot a family walking on the steppe.  They ride over to them with their masks still on and this frightens the family.  The trio asks the family who are they and where are they from.  They are Kazakhs running away from a Dzungar attack.  The enemy were killing Kazakhs and drove their cattle away.  The family barely escaped.  The trio asks the family to join them.  The father's name is Sabit.  He says they will join the young people. 

At another steppe village the Sultan Abul Khair has arrived.  The Sultan greets the leader Boke.  They confer in Boke's yurt.  The Sultan tells his hosts that the Dzungars have been cut off in the East.  So now they are raiding in their area.  They must drive the Dzungars away.  Boke says they are ready to fight.  And now they must get the Khans and the Sultans behind them. 

Korlan on her horse appears on a small rise in the steppe overlooking an encampment.  She looks at men down below her.  They might be horse thieves.  Two of the men take after Korlan.  One man stays behind.  The lone man hears the sound of fighting and the screams of men.  His buddies' horses come back up on the rise without the men.  And now here comes one of the quartet bearing down on the lone man who runs for his life.  The lone man is run down and hit over the head with a massive club.  Now the young people take the twelve horses for themselves.  To cover their tracks they go through the canyon. 

Uncle Nazar on his horse sees the young people coming in with a dozen new horses and he asks them what if they were killed while trying to steal the horses?  Sartai says that they are now facing up to the Dzungars.  He asks Nazar to give them guidance, not criticism. 

The three young guys go back to Rakhymzhan's village to chase after some girls.  They say they are warriors who fight the Dzungars, unlike some others they know.  Rakhymzhan takes this an insult and criticizes the fellows for once again being rude.  The three young fellow leave the yurt.  A man follows them and indicates that he wants to go with the trio and fight the Dzungars.  He currently teaches school, but he will bring his books and go with them. 

There is a massive meeting of the leaders of the Kazakh villages.  They discuss whether to fight the Dzungars or invite them into their territory.  They do agree that they should all be united together.  And they want to fight the Dzungars.  Abul Khair Mukhamed will lead the Kazakh army.

The six young people decide to attack one of the forts in the area.  So they will go to the Shagal bazaar to gain information about the forts. 

Korlan and Iliyas stay back and hold the horses while four guys go to the bazaar.  The group finds three Kazakh brothers about to be punished for stealing horses and murdering a Dzungar.  The eldest one will be killed and the other two sold into slavery.  They hang the eldest brother and take the other two away. 

The raiders find out that there will be 20 guards for the slave caravan tomorrow.  And the leader will be none other than Ayur. 

Sartai talks to some of the prisoners and gives them some knives.  He says they will attack the caravan and they want the slaves to free themselves and kill some of the guards. 

The next morning the young men face off with the 20 guards.  Sartai challenges Ayur to a duel.  Ayur readily accepts and the duel is on.  It doesn't take long for Sartai to kill Ayur.  Then half of the guards charge Sartai and his men and one woman.  Meanwhile the prisoners free themselves and start killing some of the guards.  Together they kill all the guards except one.  He gives them some information and they let him go.  The raiders now gather the weapons and the horses and the ex-prisoners. 

Now the Dungars descend on Rakhymzhan's village.  The Dzungars say that Knight Zhonon is asking about Sartai.  Rakhymzhan says he will speak to Zhonon personally.  The Dzungar leader tells Rakhymzhan:  don't tell me I didn't warn you. 

The raiders watch one of the forts.  They want to take it, but are hesitant.

Rakhymzhan comes to see Zhonon, whose son was Ayur.  Zhonon says he needs to catch the thief Sartai and punish him severely.  He tells Rakhymzhan to bring Sartai to him alive or deliver his head. 

Sartai goes to talk with Rakhymzhan's daughter, Zere.  He talks to her about being his wife, but she tells him:  "You haven't agreed to it with her father yet.  What sort of a groom are you?"  In a huff, she turns and walks away. 

At the fort they let a messenger, Gunga. in through the gates.  The messenger says he has a message from Zhonon.  He says there were three of them riding from Shagal and they ran into some Kazakhs.  They killed his two companions.  He says he comes from the Knight Tsevden's clan.  The senior guard says Gunga is alright, but after he goes into the barracks, the senior guard tells another guard to not take his eyes off this Gunga fellow. 

Gunga is with the raiders.  He finds the gun powder storage area.  The guard watching him comes over and tells him to get away, so Gunga stabs the guard and throws a lantern into the storage area. Soon there is a terrific explosion that lights up the fort. The raiders charge the fort and kill the men inside.  Then they pick up Gunga and leave.

In the morning the Dzungars discover the burned out fort.  Back at Nazar's village, Nazar is very angry with the raiders saying they could have been followed and that would have meant death and destruction for the whole village.  Taimas finally gets tired of Sartai getting all the glory and the girls and he leaves the village and the raiders. 

Taimas tells Sartai that he was at Rakhymzhan's village and there he saw the Dzungar who killed Sartai's father.  Sartai and Taimas now take off for Rakhymzhan's village.  On the way Taimas shoots an arrow into Sartai's back.  Sartai dreams that he meets with father and mother again.  Four other men and their two dogs find Sartai.  Taimas returns to the village with his horse and Sartai's horse. He tells everyone that Sartai was hit by an arrow.  Then the enemy dragged his body away from the back of a horse.  Korlan cries over the loss. 

An old man removes the arrow head from Sartai's back.  Zere brings Sartai something to drink.  Then her father and brother arrive.  Father sends everyone out.  He now tells Sartai that the Kazakhs are ready to go to war.  Father then tells Sartai that he should go to war instead of still acting as a thief. 

Taimas tries to take over the raiders, but Nazar says first they will search for Sartai.  Taimas tells Nazar not to tell the raiders what to do.  Korlan threatens to cut out Taimas' tongue if he should ever insult Nazar again.  She tells the men that she knows Sartai lives.  She feels it in her heart.  Everyone now goes with Nazar and Korlan. 

Rakhymzhan is moving out with his village and tells Zere that they will take Sartai with them.  She rides out to tell Sartai, who tells her that as long as he is with Zere's family her whole village is in danger.  He's going to go back to his village.  She says then she's going with him.  He says, no, it's not the right time yet.  Zere cries.  She leaves. 

Nazar comes to see Rakhymzhan, and finds out that Sartai still lives.  Korlan and some of the men go to pick up Sartai.  Korland and Sartai hug each other.  Nazar arrives now and hugs Sartai. 

Knight Zhonon comes to meet Noyan.  They talk about war with the Kazakhs.  The Dzungars have 2,000 soldiers at Anyrakai.  10,000 more are ready in the East.  And they have agents watching every move made by the Kazakhs.  The Kazakhs have no more than 15,000 men and they are in disarray.  Noyan says that Luvsan-Daichin is the commander and he must be obeyed.  A group of three men are send out to kill Sartai and Rakhymzhan.

Korlan and two companions now tell Rakhymzhan that they are leaving and they wish him good look.  Zere chases after them saying she needs to see Sartai.  Korlan is not happy about it, but she submits. 

Rakhymzhan is told that Zere is gone.  So dad and two men take off to see if they can find Zere.  Meanwhile the migration continues.  They catch up with Zere and make her come back with them.  As they start back, they are soon surrounded by the Dzungars.  They then kill father and his men.  Korlan and her two men rush into help Zere.  Korlan and Zere escape but are pursued by the Dzungars.  Two of the men with Korlan and Zere stop to hold back the Dzungers.  Both men fight bravely but there are too many Dzungars for them.  They are both killed.

Zere's horse runs of of energy, so Korlan gives her horse to Zere to ride.  Korlan kills a number of Dzungars, but again there are just too many of the enemy for her to be triumphant.  She is killed after a good fight. 

Nazar comes to get Taimas.  They tie Taimas to a tree and decide to return later for his ultimate penalty. 

Zere arrives in the village.  Sartai asks her where is everyone else?  She says they were all killed, even her own father. 

Sartai goes and releases Taimas, saying he forgives him.  Taimas goes off in a huff, saying he must find Korlan and bury her. 

At the main Kazakh camp, word comes that 20,000 of the enemy are coming from the east moving into the Kazakhs' land.

Taimas finds Korlan's body and cries over it. 

Zere sits beside Sartai.  She says her father gave them his blessings. He says she must go back to her family, but she says she's staying with him.  He also says it's not the time to talk about marriage.  Now word arrives that the Dzungats are coming and there are thousands of them.  The women, children and old men are told to hide in the forest.  But it's the Kazakhs that arrive first.  It's Kassym and his men.  He now gives his approval for the marriage of Zere and Sartai. 

In the morning Sartai and Kassym go to battle with the Dzungars.  They charge  the Dzungars who have rifles.  They break through the front line of rifles.  Kassymn fights bravely and well but is killed in action. 

Word comes to the Dzungar commander that Tomor Batyr is dead.  Then comes news that two generals have been killed.  The commander now orders his troops to retreat.  But now Sartai's group almost reaches the commander.  They are so close that the commander sees Sartai and says he's going to be the one to kill Sartai.  As the commander tries to get at Sartai, Taimas jumps onto the commander and knocks him off his horse and Taimas lands on the commander.  He stabs the commander but the commander stabs Taimas too.  Both men are dying.  Taimas tells Sartai that he finally got his revenge.  Now Sartai rejoins the fight but he is surrounded by enemy soldiers and he collapses from his wounds.  He dies.

Zere is pregnant with Sartai's baby. 


"Their victory at the battle of Anyrakai raised the fighting spirit of the Kazakh nation, inspiring them by their faith in victory and making the beginning of a new era in their struggle for independence and freedom.  But only after three centuries had passed did Kazakhstan gain its true independence as recognized by the entire civilized world."


Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



Historical Background: 

Kazakhs are descendants of:

Turkic tribes – Argyns, Khazars, Qarluqs; the Kipchaks and Cumans;

the tribe of the Huns; and

ancient Iranian nomads like the Sarmatians, Saka and Scythians from East Europe who populated the territory between Siberia and the Black Sea.

They are largely found in Kazakhstan, but also in parts of Uzbekistan, China, Russia and Mongolia.  Kazakhstand goes from the northeast section of the Caspian and heads northeast passed the Aral Sea on the south and then to Lake Balkhash.  To its north is Russia; to its east are Mongolia and China; to its southeast is Kyrgyzstan; to the south is Uzbekistan; to the northwest is Russia again.


About the Dzungars, Wikipedia says:  "The Dzungars were a confederation of several Oirat tribes that emerged in the early 17th century to fight the Altan Khan of the Khalkha . . ., the Jasaghtu Khan, and later the Manchu for dominion and control over the Mongolian people and territories. This confederation rose to power in what became known as Dzungaria between the Altai Mountains and the Ili River Valley. Initially, the confederation consisted of the Oöled, Dorbet (also written Derbet) and Khoit tribes. Later on, elements of the Khoshut and Torghut tribes were forcibly incorporated into the Dzungar military, thus completing the re-unification of the West Mongolian tribes."

The Altai Mountains are located in Central Asia, where the borders of Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan come together.  The mountains run about 1,200 miles, roughly from the northwest to the southeast.

The Ili River is found in northwestern China and southeastern Kazakhstan.  The river flows in Lake Balkhash. 




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