Dobermann

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

If Mad Max went completely barmy and Bonnie & Clyde overdosed on bank jobs and Dirty Harry was dismissed from the force for being too clean, you would get the feel of Jan Kounen's debut film. He doesn't go over the top. He starts there.

Made in cartoon style, with the darkest, bitterest black humour, it tells of Yann (Vincent Cassel) and his gang of dangerous nutters, plus the beautiful, dumb'n'deadly Nat the Gypsy (Monica Bellucci), a sex object of uncompromising delight, and Sonia/Olivier, a law student at home and drag princess at night. It also depicts the insanity and vicious sadism of a fascist cop (Tcheky Karyo), who goes after them.

The spark of Kounen's imagination is offset by a level of violence that would have Quentin Tarantino whimpering like a scorched puppy. The use of guns in symbolic rape-and-pillage is a phallic message to politically correct feminists that guys are back on top and if chicks aren't tough enough, they'll become roadkill like the rest.

The humour bites your face. The popvid camera tricks are tempered by a storyline that demands attention. The performances are ridiculously exaggerated, or too cool to call. If youth equals rebellion equals no-holds-barred, be prepared to smile through gritted teeth. Dobermann makes Blade look like Looney Toons.

Kounen uses film with the patience of a runaway train. At a time when Hollywood sees fit to remake The Tender Trap, his ability to undermine convention is encouraging. Unfortunately, only the brave and emotionally cauterised will watch all the way through. Violence causes nausea when overindulged.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Violent action flick sees sadistic cop hunt a gang of dangerous nutters.
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Director: Jan Kounen

Writer: Jol Houssin

Starring: Vincent Cassel, Tchéky Karyo, Monica Bellucci, Antoine Basler, Dominique Bettenfeld, Pascal Demolon, Marc Duret, Romain Duris, François Levantal, Ivan Merat-Barboff, Stéphane Metzger

Year: 1997

Runtime: 103 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: France

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