NOTE: This spoiler was sent in by Stephanie.
The movie begins with a man in a cage in the city. A boy walks up to him and says that the monk he sent to find his wife is dead.
Twenty Years Earlier
Temujin, nine years old, and his father, the Kahn of their tribe, are traveling with a group of Mongols (including Todoen and Targutai) to the Merkit tribe, so Temujin can choose his bride.
The audience is told that Temujin’s father stole his bride from the Merkits, so Temujin must chose a Merkit bride to mend the alliance.
The group stops at another tribe’s settlement to camp for the night. Temujin meets a girl, Borte, who is 1 year older than him. They talk, and he tells her he’s going to choose a bride from the Merkits. She tells him smart men choose brides from her village.
That evening, Temujin tells his father he wants to choose a bride here. His father says no, this tribe is weak. Temujin says he wants to practice. His father says they will be offended. Temujin says “If they are weak, let them be offended.” His father laughs.
The next day, you see all the young girls of the village lined up. Temujin’s father is telling him how to choose a bride. You want one with a flat face, narrow eyes, and strong legs. Temujin walks down the line of girls, examining each one. When he gets to Borte he says “I have found my bride.”
Temujin’s father looks very angry, but he and Borte’s father make the marriage deal, and they say Temujin will be back in 5 years to marry Borte. Temujin gives Borte a bird’s wishbone on a necklace to remember him by. (Important later)
In voice over, you hear that this decision changed his life forever. His group travels back to their tribe, and on the way they pass a resting place where a group of their enemies are eating. The father says there are Mongol rules, and you can’t fight at a resting place. So they sit down to eat. The other group sends over a servant with milk for the father. Todoen tells him to have a servant drink it first. But the Kahn says he must obey the Mongol rules. He then drinks the milk, and pours milk for the other Kahn and sends it back with the servant.
Somewhere on their journey, there is a thunderstorm, and all the men huddle against the mountains. The Kahn tells Temujin that all Mongols fear the thunder, because it means their god is mad. IMPORTANT
In the next scene, the group is back on their horses and traveling. The father is groaning, and falls off his horse. He was poisoned. The other men start yelling about how they killed their Kahn. They take off without Temujin. When Temujin gets back to the tribe, the other men are taking off with all the belongings and horses. Temujin’s mother is yelling that they’re stealing from their Kahn. Todeon yells that the Kahn is dead. She says then her son is Kahn. Todoen laughs. The mother yells Temujin will kill him for revenge.
Targutai goes to cut off Temujin’s head, but the mother is yelling that Mongols don’t kill children. Targutai doesn’t kill Temujin, but says he’ll be back for him in winter.
Next scene is Temujin running through the snow, trying to get to a mountain in the far distance. It’s his only hope for hiding. He comes across two boys his age: Jamukha and his brother Taichar. Jamukha and Temujin cut their fists and become “blood brothers,” and Jamukha says when he is Kahn, Temujin will be his second in command. Then you see Targutai and Todoen coming after Temujin. Jamukha gives him a horse, and he’s off.
They catch Temujin, and keep him tied up at their tribe with a kind of stocks over his neck. An old man feeds him and gives him water, because he can’t reach his mouth. He manages to escape, and goes to the mountain, to a sacred spot there were he prays to his god. He sees a wolf, and his stocks fall off.
Several years later, Temujin is an adult. He is once again running, as Targutai and Todoen chase him on horseback. They catch him, and he’s once again in the situation with the stocks. All the tribe is partying one night, when Temujin tricks his guard into coming too close, and smashes his head with the stocks around his neck. He then escapes again.
Temujin is running across a field when a man yells “Hold still!” He runs up and chops off the stocks with an axe. Temujin asks why, and the man tells him he knows who he is. He asks Temujin to remember him when he rises up and not punish him.
Temujin goes to Borte’s tribe to claim his bride. It’s been more than 5 years, and her father says she may not want him anymore, but she comes into the room thrilled to see him. They leave together.
Temujin takes Borte to meet his mother and family. They are very happy. Then they run off for a sort of honeymoon. At some point Borte gives Temujin the bird’s wishbone back.
That evening, a group of Mongols with masks on come to his mother’s tent. They ask where Temujin is. The mother recognizes the voice as the voice of her first husband the one Temujin’s father stole her from. He’s there to steal Temujin’s bride.
They find the couple, who flee on horseback. They shoot Temujin in the back with an arrow. Borte sees, slaps his horse to make it run home, and then stops so they can capture her.
When Temujin heals, he wants to go rescue Borte. He goes to see Jamukha, who is Kahn now. He asks for warriors to attack the Merkits. Jamukha doesn’t want anyone to know he went to war for a woman. He says they must wait a year, and then they will attack.
A year later, they head out to attack the Merkits. They reach their territory, and are attacked. They begin to conquer the Merkits. As the fight goes on, Temujin grabs a dead Merkit’s mask and runs to their tribe. He looks through the tents for Borte. He finds her in a tent with the dead body of the man who kidnapped her. She slit his throat. She’s VERY pregnant though. She says to Temujin, “I knew you would come for me.”
Temujin rejoices over his wife and “his” child.
Jamukha’s men have completely defeated the Merkits. Jamukha takes most of the spoils, and tells Temujin the rest is his. Temujin takes a tenth, and divides the rest among the men, who exclaim how generous and fair he is.
After celebrating, Temujin goes to bed, where Borte whispers something about one pot being too big for two rams heads. The next morning, Jamukha gets up and sees that Temujin is gone and several of Jamukha’s men left with him.
He follows them and asks why. They say that Temujin was fair to them. Temujin says Mongols have the right to follow the Kahn they choose.
Fast forward a few years, and Temujin’s men are chasing a group of horse thieves. One of his men shoots one, and they save the horses. But when they turn the dead thief over they realize it’s Jamukha’s brother, Taichar.
Temujin should turn the killer over to Jamukha, but he doesn’t, because Borte says it would look bad to punish the man who saved the horses. This brings about more tension with Jamukha.
Targutai goes to Jamukha and asks for help attacking Temujin. He eventually talks him into it.
Their armies start heading toward Temujin. He’s with his men, and their families. Borte tells him to take the men and flee, everyone understands, it’s what Mongols do. But Temujin says they will kill the families, and he cannot do that to his men.
He sends a few warriors with the women and families, to lead them to a safe place and protect them. He and his men find a bottleneck in the mountain, turn over their carts, and prepare for an attack.
They are greatly outnumbered, but they fight fiercely until Temujin is the only one left. They take him hostage, and he is sold into slavery.
In slavery, he kills a guard, but does not escape. He is taken far away, to a city. There the emperor comes by and asks how much the slaves cost. The slave merchant replies that they all cost 1 string of coins, except one man who is 2, and Temujin, who costs 5.
The emperor says that’s too much. The monk beside him advises him not to buy Temujin. He says he sees armies destroying the city. He says Temujin will never forgive being a prisoner. The emperor laughs him off and buys Temujin. He locks him in a cage over a pit with dogs in it. There is a rope bridge passing his cage, so people can walk by and stare at him.
He is there for a while. One day, the monk who advised the emperor against buying him comes by. He asks Temujin not to burn down the temple when he ransacks the town. Temujin asks him to kill the guard that night. The monk says his religion does not allow murder. Temujin smiles and says his does. He asks the monk to find his wife Borte and give her the wishbone necklace.
You see the monk walking on a long, long, hard journey. He eventually stumbles and falls to the desert ground, dead. The wishbone necklace falls out of his hand.
You see Borte’s eyes open from sleep. She grabs her son and runs outside. She finds the monk, and the wishbone. She sits there holding her son, waiting for a caravan.
A caravan passes (the same slave driver who sold Temujin). Borte asks for passage. The slave driver asks her how she will pay. She says, “You know how.” The slave driver is very sweet to her on the journey.
Next you see a wealthy woman in the city being carried in a covered lounge chair. It is Borte. She is bribing the guards to get the key for Temujin. She goes over the rope bridge and throws the key to Temujin, who jumps into the pit of dogs. He frightens the dogs by staring in their eyes, and easily escapes.
Borte takes him a hotel, where he sees the 9 year old son, and a new daughter, around 4 (obviously the slave trader’s). She introduces him to them as their father. The girl asks what about her old father? Borte tells her, “Forget about him, this is your new father.”
They go into a semi-private area of the hotel and make love. The son tells the daughter not to be scared, he’s their father.
Next you see Temujin playing with the kids. He tells the boy how to choose a wife, and rolls in the grass with them. The daughter tells her brother that she’s not afraid their father is funny.
Now Temujin must leave Borte again, to raise an army. He wants to unite all of the Mongols. First he goes back to the sacred spot on the mountaintop, where he sees the wolf again.
He raises an army quickly, and most Mongols join him, except Jamukha still has more forces.
His armies and Jamukha’s meet in battle. Temujin is a very shrewd warrior, and his army is doing great in the beginning, despite being outnumbered. But when both main armies are about to converge, Temujin looks to the sky, and a thunderstorm is brewing. All of the warriors on both sides fall to the ground in terror, covering their heads. Temujin rides through them unafraid. Every warrior is astounded. No one on Jamukha’s side wants to fight him now.
It seems that single action wins the battle for Temujin. Some of the enemy warriors capture their Kahn, kill him, and give his body to Temujin. Temujin orders them killed, because he doesn’t want men who betray their leaders. He’s going to create laws and order now that the Mongols are united.
Jamukha is brought before Temujin, who frees him and calls him brother. But Jamukha doesn’t want to be forgiven. He says there can only be one Kahn. He wants a noble death.
The movie ends saying that Temujin joined all the Mongol tribes and was declared Genghis Kahn. It also says the city were Temujin was held captive was wiped off the face of the earth, but the temple was spared.