Endel (Mart Avandi), a skillful fencer, is a man who has to flee Leningrad because of something he had to do during the war. Now, in the early 1950s, he finds refuge in Soviet-occupied Estonia. But you can’t keep a good fencer down.
In this Finnish import, Endel finds employment in a school, where he begins to teach fencing to students despite the opposition by the head of the school, who believes that fencing is an elite sport at odds with Soviet orthodoxy of the day.
The film, ably directed by Klaus Haro, takes a human turn when Marta (Liisa Koppel), a student, is inspired by seeing him practicing his art. Soon other students get involved, and Endel, official opposition notwithstanding, prepares to lead his charges into a tournament.
While the film takes on the aura of typical sports sagas, there is the underlying threat to Endel, and we can expect it to climax at a crucial competitive moment. The film has already set Endel up as a quetly principled, very determined guy, and the performance by Avandi emphasizes this quality and his ability to follow his instincts despite the grave personal danger he faces if exposed.
As predictable as the film becomes, it still recalls the turbulent times of the period depicted, as well as symbolizes eternal battles of man against the system. And there is all of the fencing too, especially interesting when we see female students skillfully taking to the sport. Reviewed July 21, 2017.