Guardians (Russian: Защитники, romanized: Zaschitniki or Zashchitniki) is a 2017 Russian superhero film directed by Russian-Armenian filmmaker Sarik Andreasyan and starring Sebastien Sisak, Anton Pampushnyy, Sanzhar Madiyev, Alina Lanina, Valeriya Shkirando and Stanislav Shirin.
The film tells the story of a team of Soviet superheroes created during the Cold War. The team includes representatives of the different nationalities of the USSR. Each of the protagonists’ superpowers reflect the strengths and traditions of the people of the USSR.
Guardians was met with strongly negative critical reception in Russian media, with many considering it to be one of the worst films ever made. It debuted atop the Russian box office, however its gross quickly dropped, and Guardians is believed to be a box office bomb.
The film was released in the United States with an English dub by Shout! Factory on 5 December 2017.
During the Cold War, a secret organization known as “Patriot” gathers a team of Soviet superheroes, altering and augmenting the DNA of many selected individuals throughout the former state’s territory, in order to defend the motherland from superhuman threats. The team includes representatives of the different nationalities of the Soviet Union. Arseniy, codenamed Arsus, can change into a huge, incredibly strong bear-man. Temirkhan, codenamed Khan, has super-speed and wields a pair of curved swords. Lernik, codenamed Ler, has the ability to control earth and stone. Finally, Xenia can become invisible under water.
The program succeeds where a second program called Module-1 fails. This prompts Professor August Kuratov (Stanislav Shirin), creator of Module-1, to flee to the remote wilderness, away from Soviet authorities, to continue working on his experiments. When the military is summoned to arrest him, he bombs the Patriot laboratory, surviving because he was covered with some chemicals. He rebuilds his damaged body making himself into a cyborg. This gives him the power to generate electricity and control machines. He also created an army of clones of himself, and sets out to prove to the world that he is a genius. After the explosion, Arsus, Ler, Khan, and Xenia go into hiding for years.
In the present day, several walking robots used in a training exercise turn against their supervising officials and kill them. This leads to the Ministry of Defence holding a meeting and deciding to revive the Patriot organization under the leadership of Major Elena Larina and to locate their missing super agents. She finds Ler spending his time meditating in the Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia; Khan living on the steppes of Kazakhstan; Arsus in a remote cabin on the Putorana Plateau in northern Siberia; and Xenia performing stunts in a circus in Moscow. Their first task is to raid Kuratov’s laboratory within an old factory, but they are captured.
Kuratov offers the Guardians a chance to join him but they refuse. This angers him and he keeps three of them trapped within a magnetic force field and injures Ler. He later goes to a military facility at Noginsk to take control of the tanks and other vehicles stationed there. Using them, he launches an invasion of Moscow and makes preparations to use the Ostankino Tower and the Federation Tower for his Module-2 Project. He intends to transmit a signal through an old Soviet satellite, which will then be sent to every other satellite orbiting Earth, and use it to seize control of all technology in the world. He uses a force field to protect his beacon-tower and destroy several jet fighters that are sent to stop him. When a collaborator within the Russian military, Major-General Nikolai Dolgov, asks Kuratov for a reward for his help, Kuratov strangles him to death.
While Ler recovers, he reflects on the fact that his superhuman abilities prevent him from aging normally. He has stayed the same age while his wife and grandchildren have grown older and died. Afterward, Major Elena frees the other team members from Kuratov’s laboratory. She sends Kuratov’s former rival to study one of Kuratov’s clones. Unfortunately, the real Kuratov releases poison gas to kill him. Arsus and the other Guardians are trained in the Patriots’ facility and are given suits and weapons.
The Guardians go to Moscow: Xenia and Arsus advance through the streets, Ler defeats several soldiers patrolling an underground car park, and Khan uses an airplane to try to fly above Kuratov’s force field. The three Guardians enter a shopping mall, and begin crossing an iron bar linking it to the tower-beacon, but are shot at by more of Kuratov’s troops on another pipe. Khan jumps from the airplane swinging on a grapple line to slice the pipe, causing Kuratov’s troops to fall.
While the other Guardians try to figure out a way to destroy the power source for Kuratov’s beacon, Xenia grabs the power source to short circuit it. She is injured but this does temporarily disable the beacon’s transmissions causing the force field to collapse. The Guardians battle Kuratov again on the platform at the top of the tower but fail to defeat him. Khan uses his super speed to tie all of the Guardians to a grappling rope and attach it to an airplane to escape. Kuratov interferes with the plane’s controls, but Khan cuts the grappling rope and they fall into a river before the plane crashes.
As they emerge from the river, they consider going back to Kuratov’s beacon to destroy it and kill Kuratov, but Major Elena arrives and commands them not to. She tells them that as superhumans, they can also pool their energy and release it as a blast, but doing so might be fatal. The Guardians touch each other and generate a blast of energy, much akin to a Genki-Dama AKA Spirit Bomb, that destroys Kuratov’s tower, and the skyscrapers supporting it causing Kuratov to fall to his death. Major Elena says that, while Kuratov boasted that he created the Guardians, they really created themselves.
The Guardians recover, rendezvousing with Major Elena on a bridge in the rebuilt Moscow. Although they choose to go back to their normal lives, they also consider continuing their service to the Patriot organization. As they walk away, Elena tells them that “we found other Guardians.” In a post-credits scene, Elena is seen attacking a soldier after his truck stops. When she questions the soldier, he tells her that “Ferrum” has sent him as part of an unspecified mission.